Getting behind the wheel of a car by yourself for the first time is always going to be a surreal moment. You’ve spent months, maybe even a year or more with an instructor or family member sat next to you for guidance, but once you’ve passed your test, you’re on your own! As freeing as this can be, it’s incredibly daunting too. Extreme nervousness and fear is common in new drivers, so if you’re feeling this way here are a few things to consider.

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Drive By The Book

If you drive exactly how you were taught by your instructor, you won’t go far wrong. Doing proper checks before pulling away, checking mirrors correctly, leaving the right separation distance and going the right speed on bends and roundabouts are all things that will help you to stay safe. You’ve proved you’re a good enough driver by passing your test, so stay calm and put all of the techniques and knowledge you acquired into action.

Start With Shorter Journeys

If you’re feeling nervous about being out there on your own on the roads, start small and build it up. Don’t feel like you have to tackle everything right now. Begin with short journeys to places you know, and keep doing this until you have built up your confidence. Gradually extend the length of the journeys, and before you know it, you’ll find you can go anywhere. As a new driver, you will probably be driving a completely different vehicle than the one you learned in, even getting to grips with this can be tricky at first. These smaller journeys will allow you to do that, while showing you that you really can do it alone.

Avoid Busy Times

Busy times are stressful enough even for the most experienced of drivers. Rush hour is particularly dangerous, since people are tired, fed up and can do risky things on the roads that they might not normally do. You could get people pulling out on you at roundabouts and junctions when there’s not really enough space, tailgating you to pressure you into driving faster than the speed limit and cutting you up. Should anyone cause an accident by doing things like this, you’re likely to have a personal injury case that requires legal representation on your hands. Stay calm, take down details and take pictures of both vehicles for the record. Until you’re confident with your driving and are happy that your reaction speeds and ability to fully keep an eye on other people’s driving (as well as your own) are up to scratch, avoid busy times of the day.

Avoid Distractions

With any driver, their full attention needs to be on the road, but as someone who has recently passed their test,  it’s especially important. Leave your music off, and ask passengers to remain calm and quiet so none of your focus is being taken from the road. It goes without saying that you shouldn’t be attempting to eat, drink, change your music or look at your phone while you’re driving.

Practice Breathing Techniques

Are you just nervous in the car, or are you a nervous person in general? If the latter is true, learning to tackle these feelings will help you both in your regular life as well as when you’re in the car. If you believe you suffer from anxiety, it could be worth speaking to your doctor. Otherwise, exercise and breathing techniques can both lower stress and boost mood. Putting you in a much better frame of mind when you get behind the wheel.