Everyone has experienced a moment of fear on the road.
Close calls happen all the time, and it only takes a split second for an accident to occur.
But getting over driving anxiety is a vital part of being an experienced, safe driver regardless of the circumstance.
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These five steps can help anxious drivers become calmer when facing the road and all the unpredictable things that can occur.
While it’s impossible to foresee every circumstance and no one can predict what other drivers do on the road, being well prepared yourself is the key to staying calm, no matter what happens.
1) Stay Calm
Working yourself up into a frenzy prior to getting behind the wheel does nothing to calm your nerves. It works them up into an anxious state before anything has ever happened.
Driving is an essential part of life for most people, and it is a necessary function of day to day life.
When you get behind the wheel, before ever turning the key in the ignition, take a few deep breaths.
Breathe in slowly through your nose and out of your mouth. Make sure your nerves are as steady as possible. When you feel a sense of calm, then it is okay to turn the wheel and get moving.
2) Take it Slow
A lot of people drive like maniacs, but that doesn’t mean you have to be one of them. Take special care, especially in hazardous driving conditions like rain or snow to go at the speed you are comfortable with.
Driving slowly may not make other drivers happy, but getting to your destination safely is the most important factor to be considered. Stay out of the fast lanes, keep to the right on whatever road you’re on, and drive at a safe pace.
Keep a safe distance from the car in front of you. Being more prepared for sudden stops can prevent accidents.
By allowing yourself more reaction time in unexpected circumstances, you are better prepared to deal with them.
3) Avoid driving when stressed
If you’ve had a really bad day at work, or you’re feeling sick or distressed about another situation, don’t get behind the wheel.
Driving anxiety gets worse when other factors are added to the mix. Try to relax before putting yourself into a situation you’re already anxious about.
Sit and talk to a friend for awhile. Go for a walk. Once you have calmed down sufficiently from the extra stressor, driving will be safer for you and other drivers sharing the road.
4) Drive Defensively, not Aggressively
The world is full of drivers who don’t think twice about cutting off anyone in their path.
While you cannot control what other drivers do on the road, you can control your reaction to them.
Always keep a safe distance between you and the car in front of you. If a driver near you appears to be driving erratically, avoid them. Try to change lanes if possible.
Check your mirrors often, and try to avoid high-stress driving like rush hour traffic. Plan ahead for traffic conditions and give yourself extra time to get to your destination without feeling rushed.
The safety of all drivers on the road should be the utmost concern to anyone getting behind the wheel, but it’s often not taken into consideration.
Drive in a way that defends your position and your vehicle. Let other drivers be aggressive. Be safe instead.
5) Allow for Errors without Beating Yourself Up
Everyone makes mistakes. Sometimes you change lanes without seeing the car speeding up behind you.
Sometimes two vehicles try to merge into the same lane at the same time and don’t notice each other.
And sometimes accidents happen. It’s okay. Don’t let a fender bender impair your driving ability, and don’t let it make your anxiety worse.
Close calls happen sometimes. The important thing is to not let your focus linger on what may have been, and be thankful that everyone is safe.
Use caution when driving and be sure to check both your blind spots and your mirrors when merging or changing lanes.
By doing all you can to ensure that you’re driving as safely as possible, you reduce the risk of accidents.
Accidents are called accidents for a reason. No one plans them or wants them to happen. Driving while anxious can make accidents more likely.
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Try to stay calm, and keep a level head. No drive is endless – there is always a destination. Be grateful for making it to your destination safely and efficiently.
By practicing safe driving and keeping an eye on the road, driving is just like any other fear. Conquerable, and easily overcome.