Tips for Driving Alone for the First Time
Learning how to drive is easy. You always have someone in the car with you during your learning period. But when you pass the test and the time comes to get behind the wheel for the first time, on your own, that is when the real test begins.
Fear of driving for the first time on your own without anyone else sitting in the car is a real fear and is quite understandable. It’s okay to get nervous behind the wheel and it may take many hours or even days to finally build up the courage to take your car out for a spin all on your lonesome.
We understand that it’s terrifying to get behind the wheel for the first time alone, so we have put together a list of tips for driving alone for the first time. By following these tips, you can successfully overcome the fear of driving and build up road confidence.
Make Yourself Comfortable With the Car
So you have passed your driving test and invested in your first car. An exciting feeling indeed! But the one thing you were probably not prepared for is getting acquainted with the car you have bought. Depending on the make and model of your vehicle, its controls can be placed in different areas and not knowing where they are can be quite problematic when driving.
So the first and the most important step towards driving alone for the first time is getting comfortable with your car. Start by sitting in your car when it’s stationary. Take in the interior of the car, hold the steering wheel in your hands, position your seats and adjust the side and rearview mirrors. Familiarize yourself with the controls. Where are the headlights, the windshield wiper, handbrake and so on?
Make all the Preliminary Adjustments
It’s not enough to just know how to drive a car. When the time comes for you to drive alone, you should know how to adjust the mirrors, the seat and the windows so your driving experience remains safe and uneventful.
A little experimentation with the mirror and the seat might add to your comfort while being alone in the car. Your interior and exterior mirrors need to be adjusted to give you the best angle of your surroundings. You must have learned that in your driving lessons that focusing merely on the road ahead of you is not enough.
Driving a car entails being aware of your surroundings, which includes the rearview and the side views. Your interior mirror must be angled so it allows you to see the whole space behind you through your rear window. Whereas, your side mirrors should be adjusted so you can see a small percentage of the side of your car. The point at which the road disappears into the distance should be visible at the center of your side mirrors.
It’s not Shameful to Put up the P Plates
If you have just passed the driving test and want to take out your car alone on the road, it’s important that other drivers on the road can see that too. Don’t hesitate to make it clear to others that you have just passed your test and it is your first journey alone.
The display takes the pressure off you when you know that others can see that you are a new driver. Displaying a P Plate, or Permit Plate, basically tells other drivers to be patient with you if you stop in the middle of the road or if you are driving slow. Another good thing about P Plates is that they can be displayed for as long as you want until you get the road confidence you need to drive alone.
Take Short Journeys
When it’s time for you to take your car out for the first time on the road on your own, it’s best if you don’t opt for long journeys. Even if you felt while learning to drive that you could easily take the car out on long routes, it’s not the same when you don’t have anyone else in the car like before.
Without an accompanying driver or instructor, the task of going on long routes can become too daunting to complete. Chances are that you get too overwhelmed in the middle of your way or stop driving altogether.
You may also get anxious and make a mistake that can put you at risk of an accident. It’s always safe to make short journeys first. Do things like drive to a nearby store or just circle around the block for your experience and see how it feels to drive alone.
Taking it slow will help greatly. You can learn something new on every trip and your experience will get better every time.
Make Sure Your Phone is Away
When you are driving, your focus should strictly remain on the road ahead of you and must never be diverted by any means. These days, when smartphones have infiltrated every aspect of our lives, we tend to spend more time scrolling our mobile screens than focusing on the things in our surroundings.
This is bad enough in any social situation when your phone takes up your attention more than other people in your surroundings, but when you use your phone while you are driving, the level of your detriment rises up way higher than you think.
Now imagine driving alone for the first time and keeping your phone on your dashboard so you can pick it up the instant it rings. It’s the most common habit amongst drivers and is not a healthy one. Especially when you are on your own, make sure that you put your phone away from your eyes, and avoid reaching it when it rings on the road. Keep your focus entirely on the road and lessen your chances of ever getting into any road trouble because of divided attention.
Peak Hours are a No-Go
Driving during rush hours is a daunting task for even the most expert drivers. It requires heavy stopping and starting which means that you have to be on your best clutch game during that hour. Even the most skillful drivers tend to avoid driving rush hours for the toll it takes on them, draining them of energy and making them cranky. For someone who is taking out their car for the first time on the road on their own, it’s best to choose off-peak hours for that little adventure.
It’s best to familiarize yourself with your car during quieter hours when no one is honking at you from behind or when you don’t have to stop after every few seconds because of the huge line of cars ahead of you.
The off-peak time is the best for you to take out your car for the first time, get to know the road, experiment with speed a little, and go as slow as you want if it gets to that. You’ll feel less nervous driving your car on your own and the fear of being shouted at by other drivers will lessen significantly.
Avoid Interstates and Major Highways for Now
As a driver, you may have to drive on some difficult terrains at some point in your life. But that does not mean you have to begin right away. The first time you are behind the wheel might not be a good time for you to drive through interstates, underpasses, or major highways.
And if it driving through these roadways is unavoidable, try taking someone along for moral support. Just knowing that you won’t be alone if anything goes sideways is enough to boost your confidence on the road.
Get Rid of any Distractions
It’s true that when you do something for a long time it becomes second nature to you. You do it without thinking about it consciously. Similarly, if a person is driving for a long time, they become so skilled at it that small distraction slike music and eating food on the go do not pose any danger to them. They become a pro at multitasking on the go.
For a new driver, however, it might not be as easy as it appears. When you start driving on your own, you have to do everything yourself and there will not be any instructor sitting next to you with a brake in their hands.
In such a case, any distractions like loud music or food can make it difficult for you to focus on your driving. Make sure there are as few distractions as you can manage so you can really pay attention to your driving and be good at it.
Don’t Let Others Make You Nervous
Roads out there are flooded with vehicles, each driven by a person of a different mindset and road behaviour. While it’s important to mind your surroundings when you are on the road, it’s also very important to not let other drivers on the road intimidate you.
There is always going to be that one driver that will act like they own the road. If you are going slow, they might try to tailgate you or threaten you into driving faster. Some might try to threaten you to pick up speed or cut out at a roundabout or junction.
This might seem too overwhelming for you if you are on the road for the first time alone. It might make you nervous and you may find yourself at the cusp of giving up. But the key is to not pay attention and let them do their thing while you do yours.
Drive at your own pace and stick to the rules. Don’t let them intimidate you into breaking any road safety rules. If they really have trouble staying behind you, they are welcome to overtake you. You should remember that this is your first time and no one is judging you to drive expertly.
It’s Okay to Take a Break
If you are on a schedule and have to be somewhere soon, it’s advised not to choose that day for your first solo driving expedition. This is because when you take out your car for the first time on your own, there may come a point when you accidentally lose the clutch or pull over and the car comes to a halt in the middle of the road, as is normal with new drivers.
While there is nothing wrong with that, this occurrence might overwhelm you and you might want to take a break. If that happens, take that break and catch a breath. Pullover at the side and don’t feel shameful about it. Taking a break will give you a chance to focus on your breathing and you can regain your energy before you hit the road again.
Practice as Much as You Can
It’s true that road confidence can only be achieved by driving in the middle of a busy road. But practice makes a person perfect. Your confidence will only increase if you allow yourself the chance to get out on the road more.
While some people may give you the advice to practice on an empty road before hitting the main road, real road confidence comes with practice on busy roads. So make a point of getting in the car every day and drive for 10-15 minutes every day.
Hit the road randomly, include roundabouts and parking routines to build up your confidence. Also, go out at different times of the day to experience the road at its peak and off-peak times.
Driving on your own for the first time may seem exciting but daunting at the same time. When you started learning how to drive, you always had an instructor or a friend in the car to guide you but now you are all on your own. Feeling nervous and unsure about all your learnings in such instances is completely normal and by following the right steps overcoming these feelings is easy.
It’s good to be nervous about something you are about to do. It gives you a chance to make sure you are taking every measure there is to do the thing in the right manner. Driving alone is no different. With the abovementioned tips for driving alone for the first time and a little bit of faith, you can start driving confidently on your own; sooner than you think.
All you need to understand is that it takes practice to drive smoothly and confidently on the road and in time the act of driving becomes almost second nature to most.