So you’ve passed the driving test but are scared at the thought of the first time driving alone?
You may gain a little assurance in knowing that this is very common for those that have passed their test to be anxious and nervous about taking their first drive alone. Driving and particularly driving alone is seen as a huge step in independence and it can come as a shock when there’s no one sitting next to you telling you what to do or what you’re doing wrong.
It’s also common that we question our ability to do something properly, especially when we don’t have much experience to fall back on. But that’s what the test is for and a highly trained driving examiner has put a tick in the ‘passed’ box stating that you’re a safe and skilled driver.
You can also rest assured that for most individuals who are fearful of that first drive alone, are with a little basic planning and practice, rapidly gaining confidence in no time. So here, we shall provide some tips and advice for gaining confidence for that first-time drive alone.
It really depends on just how nervous you are for that first drive, but the main thing is to not rush it and to take it in stages.
Don’t Go it Alone, For Now
The first thing to do before going it alone is to ask a family member or friend to sit next to you for your first drive after passing the test. This will help to bridge the gap between having someone official such as the examiner or a qualified driving instructor, to then driving on your own. Choose a quiet time of day, drive for 30 minutes or so and ideally choose a route you know well.
Before you go out, study your intended route on Google Maps to ensure you know exactly what you need to do and where to go. You can even take the route at ‘Street View’ level if you wish to gain a better understanding of the various junctions you’ll encounter. You can also plan stops where you can pull over safely for a break if you wish.
It’s essential that the person accompanying you must have a mature, calming attitude such as a parent or older relative and is there to encourage and offer confidence if and when you need it. It’s important they do not judge your driving – you do have a full licence after all. You could perhaps ask this individual to sit in the back and read a newspaper or book to avoid the feeling of being supervised. Avoid asking an individual who is likely to cause distraction as this will impede progress and will reduce concentration.
Now Drive Alone
Once you feel confident driving this route with someone sitting next to you, do the same drive on your own. Take exactly the same route, when the roads are quiet and ideally do it immediately after you have completed it with your accompanying passenger. It’s important that you take this independent drive right away else you’ll begin to build up anxiety again.
Essentially you need to concentrate on control of the vehicle and other road users, so avoid distractions such as the sat-nav – you know where you’re going, so you don’t need it anyway. Also leave your mobile phone at home and keep the radio turned off.
You’ve ditched the L-plates, now you might want to consider P-plates. Unlike L-plates, there’s no legal obligation to attach P-plates, they’re purely voluntary and are used as a visual aid to inform other road users that you’re a new and inexperienced driver. You can put them on your car whenever you like, even if it was a long time since passing the test and you can keep them on your vehicle for as long as you feel necessary.
Using P-plates may not necessarily encourage all drivers to act with more consideration around you, but using them may provide you with a little more confidence than without.
Increase the Pressure
You know this route well and you have driven it on your own successfully and with confidence. It’s now time to increase the pressure slightly. Keeping to the same or similar route, this time choose a busier time of day where you’ll be dealing with more traffic.
That’s pretty much it! You now have enough confidence to drive on your own. If you’re still a little unsure, try extending the route to allow for new roads that you have little experience on.
But I Live in a Busy Area
If where you live is always busy, then it might not be a great place to start. Ask a family member or friend to drive you (in your own car) to a quiet location. This could be a quiet residential street or perhaps a industrial estate on a Sunday when they’re usually very quiet. Country roads are quiet but are best avoided as they inherently have specific hazards that are best avoided for a new nervous driver.
It’s important that the person driving your car will need to check with their insurance on whether they’re covered to drive a vehicle other than their own.
What About a Driving Instructor?
If you don’t mind further expense, driving instructors offer varied lesson types that will almost certainly cover your requirements. Refresher lessons are suitable for most (post test pass) and cover a wide range of concerns. Simply chat to any instructor and they will discuss a suitable, often short course specifically to deal with your particular issues.
Advanced Driving Courses
Alternatively you could take an advanced driving course such as Pass Plus. Again, most driving instructors offer Pass Plus courses and are designed to help new drivers develop driving skills and confidence. It’s a short course at only six hours and there’s no test at the end. Better still, once completed, you’ll receive a certificate that you can hand to participating insurance providers who’ll offer you a discount off your premium.
Scared to Drive on my Own
The thing to remember here is that examiners conduct the test to establish exactly that; that you are indeed perfectly safe and capable of driving on your own. Even the most confident of people will feel a little scared before that first solo drive, so it’s perfectly normal.
Start off on a quiet day, such as a Sunday for a short trip where you know the roads well. Before you know it, you’ll be gaining in confidence in no time at all.