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  • Writer's pictureEllis Wood ADI

I’ve not driven for a while and I need to for my job/family/personal goal.

Updated: Nov 7, 2023

To help gain confidence and overcome anxiety after a break from driving, especially if you haven't driven for a few years after passing your test, consider the following steps:

  1. Refresher Course or Lesson: Taking a refresher driving lesson with a professional instructor. This can help you reacquaint yourself with driving techniques, road rules, and refresh your memory on essential skills. Professional guidance can provide reassurance and boost confidence.

  2. Practice in a Safe Environment: Start in a safe, quiet area such as an empty parking lot or a calm side street to ease back into driving. This environment allows for low-pressure practice to regain familiarity with the controls and handling of the vehicle.

  3. Gradual Exposure: You could gradually increase the complexity of driving environments. After getting comfortable in a quiet area, you can progress to busier streets, eventually moving to highways or more challenging conditions as you regain confidence.

  4. Drive with a Confident Companion: You could drive with a trusted friend or family member who is a confident and experienced driver. Having someone alongside for support can alleviate anxiety and provide guidance.

  5. Positive Visualization and Mental Preparation: Try to visualize successful driving experiences. This mental exercise helps build confidence by envisioning yourself calmly and competently navigating through various driving scenarios.

  6. Practice Defensive Driving: Use defensive driving techniques, such as maintaining a safe following distance, anticipating potential hazards, and being aware of surroundings. Understanding these strategies can boost confidence in handling unexpected situations.

  7. Stay Informed: Staying updated with current road rules and regulations. Changes might have occurred in traffic laws or road layouts since you last drove, and staying informed will help you feel more confident and prepared.

  8. Set Realistic Goals: Always make sure you are setting achievable and progressive driving goals. Starting with short, familiar trips and gradually extending the distance or complexity of the route can help rebuild confidence in stages.

  9. Positive Reinforcement: Celebrate small achievements and successes during driving sessions. Acknowledging progress, no matter how small, can motivate and instill confidence.

  10. Patience and Self-Compassion: Remind yourself that it's okay to feel anxious initially. Patience and self-compassion during the process of reacclimating to driving is a must. So you made one mistake, so what, you also made a lot of correct moves and judgements. Thinking only of the negatives is a common trait when driving. You're not perfect, I'm not perfect, nobody is perfect.

  11. Regular Practice: Consistent practice increases ability and therefore confidence. The more frequently you drive, the faster your confidence will return.

  12. Be sensible: If you are feeling nervous make sure you don't put yourself into a situation that increases your anxiety. It's probably not a good idea to pick up all of your mates and fill the car. Not only do you have a load of critical eyes watching and taking pot shots at your driving skills, but having that many people in your car may affect its overall stability that you won't be able to compensate for (because you don't know what your car normally feels like).

With good support, guidance, and resources that address these steps, you will eventually reduce or overcome anxiety and rebuild your confidence after a break from driving. Each person's journey may vary, so it's important to provide a supportive environment and acknowledge your progress along the way.

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