Driving is a skill that can take years to properly build – but it’s also one that can fall into disrepair if neglected
This is something that 49-year-old Jane knows only too well. During lockdown she decided to ditch driving. She wasn’t going into the office and couldn’t go out much. So she got rid of her car and walked or used public transport.
This was all fine until she landed a promotion which meant travelling to different office locations around the UK. She said getting back into driving really wasn’t like ‘riding a bike.’ It was uncomfortable and a bit weird.
“It was like I’d stopped driving for a decade or something,” she said. “My feet on the pedals were all clumsy and I kept forgetting to check my mirrors. And each time I made a mistake I lost a bit more confidence.”
Jane stopped driving out of choice, but it’s not always like that. It might be that you’ve been forced into a break from driving by illness or injury. Maybe taken up a remote working job which doesn’t require you to drive anywhere for months on end. Whatever the reason, a spell away can result in a loss of confidence. Driving can feel daunting, where once it felt natural.
So, how can we deal with this problem?
Get re-acquainted with the car
It’s worth taking a moment to take a seat in the car, and to familiarise yourself with all of the features. Just have a nice sit in it. If you’ve never driven this particular car before, you might take a look at things like reversing cameras, lane assist, and the infotainment system. If you feel comfortable changing the onboard clock, you might end up feeling less intimidated by all of the other systems.
Practice makes perfect
The more miles you can put in behind the wheel, the more your confidence will grow. Go easy on yourself to begin with. Limit the novelty by sticking to familiar routes, at quiet times of the day. Look for short-term insurance policies, so that you can borrow cars from willing friends and family members. This will tide you over until you’re willing to resume driving duties yourself.
The Highway Code
The Highway Code is a constantly-evolving document, and the chances are good that there are new rules and conventions with which you might not be familiar. Have a read through and try to take everything on board. It might be that you find that everything feels familiar, which can be a source of encouragement. On the other hand, you might be a bit intimidated – in which case, you can remind yourself that very few motorists really know their Highway Code from front to back!
You can think of learning to drive again as like recovering from an injury. If you expect too much of yourself, then you risk suffering a setback.
Try to make incremental progress on a day-by-day, or week-by-week, basis. You might even outline a plan for progression. Make sure that your goals are realistic and sensible, and stick to the plan. You’ll be back on the road before long!
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