Whether you’re learning to drive, or you’re a seasoned driver in need of some strategies to make your commute less stressful, you might discover a handy tip below that you hadn’t considered before. We’ve compiled a list of tips that can help you prepare to succeed, and make you look forward to getting behind the wheel, rather than dreading it and walking the 10kms to your weekend activity of choice. Driving should be something you enjoy, not just practicality! Buckle up your seatbelts, equip your dangly air freshener and let’s dive in.
Picture it. You’re going to a mate’s wedding. You casually mention this at a family gathering. Oh yeah! I know the best way to get there, trust me, your Uncle informs you, sticking his chest out. Low and behold, your Uncle’s “best way to get there” shout has delivered you into a tangle of roads that look exactly the same, and there are no signs anywhere. Time is ticking, you’ve got a car full of arguing friends. Michael Buble is blasting festively through your car speakers. You’re sweating.
Rewind. Before you drive somewhere for the first time, Google Map it. Google is smart enough to inform you of any accidents/pileups blocking your route, traffic conditions, tolls, arrival times, and alternate routes. Check everything out well in advance; plan out any stops you need to make along the way, and take into consideration what kinds of roads you’ll be traveling on – highways, dirt roads, etc, so you’re not driving into the unknown. The only thing standing between you and a crisp pale ale will be a tranquil drive with friends.
Many a hero has rued the day they said those fateful words – “it’s only 20 minutes away.” Popped down the road for a dentist appointment, only to get stuck behind the world’s biggest and slowest garbage truck. That 15% lateness fee surcharge is looming in the back of your mind. Well, no more, because you’re going to beat that time crunch once and for all.
Leaving earlier seems like such a simple suggestion, but it makes all the difference. It lets you have peace of mind when you’re driving – you’ll make smarter, calmer decisions. Even if there’s a never-ending train crossing the railroad tracks and you have to stop for 5 minutes, you’ll be free of tense glances at the clock. Especially for learners who are driving somewhere new for the first time, leaving early allows for concentrated, calm driving and any wrong turn you might make along the way. And if you get there a bit too early? Google some other dentists – that lateness fee really sucks.
The streets and suburbs you live in are full of learning benefits. Safety: you know where things are, and where you can stop if you need to take a break or end your driving lesson. Less pressure: usually, driving in a residential or quiet area means less traffic. Driving cooperatively and practicing skills like giving way, using a roundabout, and perfecting your 3-point turn are safer here. And if you do happen to get waves of encouragement from early-rising neighbours – roll with it! There’s absolutely nothing embarrassing about learning to do something and taking care to apply yourself.
Look, there’s a time and a place for your Mum’s Best of the 80s CD. Turning off the stereo or lowering the volume can help you concentrate better and reduce sensory overload. Additionally, it can be a good idea to let passengers know you need to concentrate. If you know your sibling is particularly hyper after footy training – maybe swap the drive home with a parent or guardian. That way you also get to hear about your sibling’s three goals over and over and over again. The gift that just keeps on giving! But, being a passenger also gives the opportunity to watch how an experienced driver reacts and responds to different situations on the road, and note down how they drive cooperatively.
This is one for the parents and guardians out there. For the lunges toward the steering wheel. The “No, no, no! Your left!” The nail-biting. The hugs. The “Don’t worry, I couldn’t even control the car the first time.” Just as it’s difficult to learn to drive, there’s a skill set that comes with being in the passenger seat for the first time. Sometimes that added perception of judgment from an experienced driver like a parent, guardian, sibling, or friend can make learner drivers feel like they’re under added pressure outside of simply concentrating on their decision-making behind the wheel. Consider reaching out to a driving instructor. They’re used to the teaching process, they supply a car with additional brakes on the passenger side and they’re in the know for helping nervous drivers build up a healthy sense of self-confidence.
Building up a routine and motivation can feel like a big task. Something as simple as making a checklist of your driving goals can give you a visual motivational aid, and helps boost enthusiasm. We all know how satisfying it is to put a tick beside a task we’ve been working on. Also, celebrate your progress with your family and friends – group support can help remind you of the benefits of being able to drive confidently: independence, convenience, boot space for the groceries you’d been lugging around in the past, and most importantly…fun! You can take yourself to the coast for a celebratory ice cream and a cruise – you’ve earned it!