Learn how to reduce fear and anxiety when learning to drive, when preparing for a road test, or when driving in general - watch the video!
Slow-speed manoeuvresoad test. Now just before we get started here be sure to hit that subscribe button… down over about… somewhere there. That way you'll get access to all the great information if you're working towards a license or starting your career as a truck or bus driver. Lots of great information here and you'll get access to that as soon as I get it available. Now 9 tips to reduce fear and anxiety associated with driving.
Now I have a bit of experience with this: in early-2000 when I was living in Australia I was driving coaches for Greyhound and in the early morning it was dark and I was riding my bicycle on the way to work. I made the mistake of getting up beside one of my colleagues and another coach--yes a Greyhound bus--I was on my bicycle went through the intersection. The intersection was kind of an odd intersection where it kind of jogged as you went through the intersection. And my colleagues saw somebody else on the other side of the road and pulled over to the curb. The bus hit me on the shoulder on my bicycle and I don't remember anything much after that except looking up from the sidewalk when I was on my belly flat down. And I watched the rear wheels of the bus go over my bicycle. And the reason I tell that story is because in the aftermath of that it took me some time to get back on my bicycle.
And I knew that I had to get back on my bicycle or I probably wouldn't get back on. It's kind of like when riders get thrown from horses, if they don't get right back on, it's unlikely that they're going to get back on because the fear and trepidation associated with that really gnaws at you. And I'll tell you I was skittish for some… probably 2 or 3 months after that while I was riding my bicycle in traffic about getting hit. So I have some experience with this. As well, I worked as a driver rehabilitation specialist at Parkwood hospital in London, Ontario for a period of time working with an occupational therapist there and helping people to return to driving. And we did work with some post-crash victims who had sustained serious injuries in crashes and we're trying to return to driving. So I have some experience with this and we'll give you nine tips today to help you reduce the anxiety and the fear associated with driving and get you going to ease that tension so that you can drive and drive successfully and have a good career as a driver. So stick around, we'll be right back with that information.
Hi there smart drivers - welcome back. Rick with Smart Drive Test talking to you today about nine tips to reduce fear and anxiety associated with driving and taking a road test.
Now little doubt that you're having some fear and anxiety associated with driving because we travel at high speeds, and unlike cheetahs our body's biologically not designed to travel at high speed. So there are tips, techniques, and skills that you can put in place that will compensate for our limitations in biology and our ability to move at high rates of speed. And one of the most prominent techniques is to look farther down the road so that you have more time to segregate out the different road hazards that you have to take note of and prepare for as you're driving.
The other thing about driving is that we're a bit duped by driving because for our whole lives we grow up in the back of motorcars - this generation and the baby boomer generation were the first generations to grow up with the motorcar. So our whole lives we sit in the back of the car and we watch our parents drive, our friends, and family and other people drive and it seems fairly easy. Because to a veteran driver all of this becomes kind of second nature and it looks fairly easy. But when you get in the vehicle it is a complex task. And it's probably the most complex task that we do on a daily basis. And there are six characteristics of the roadway that come together in different combinations that can make driving very different in the same piece of roadway.
The Driving Task
2) the vehicle
4) the roadway
6) and weather.
And all of those things are changing all the time. So driving is dynamic! So you have to be flexible and have to interpret different situations as you're driving and put in place strategies that will help you to cope with that and allow you to drive safely. So those are a couple of reasons why you might have some fear and anxiety around driving. And why you might have some fear and anxiety around taking a road test. And the other thing is that none of us like to be watched by other people and criticized. And unfortunately that's what examiner's do: they watch us, they evaluate what we're doing, and they criticize what we're doing. And not very often do they say, “oh you did awesome! Everything went well.” No we have a great deal of anxiety around tests and we don't like other people criticizing what we're doing. At least it feels like we're being criticized. Many of the examiners are quite good at giving you positive feedback and helping you to improve your driving skills. But still there's a great deal of fear and trepidation.
#1 - Wear Comfortable Clothing
So without further ado let's get to tip number one. Wear comfortable clothing that’s loose fitting. A t-shirt or some other blouse, or something like that. Pants that are not too tight or constricting. Trainers -have nice comfortable shoes on that have good contact with the pedals and those types of things. Don't have flip-flops on… thongs as they call them in Australia or high heels and those types of things. Make sure that you can have good contact with your heel on the floor of the vehicle. And that way you can simply rotate your ankle and work the pedals. As well, when you're sitting in the vehicle make sure that the seat is adjusted.
The back of the seat tilts backwards and forwards and it should be back far enough that you have a nice bend in the elbow. As well, the seat backwards and forwards should be adjusted so that when you put your foot behind the pedals, there's just a slight bend in the knees. And that way you're going to have good contact with the pedals and you're not going to be stretching. As well you're not going to be hunched up over the steering wheel and those types of things. Because I see lots of drivers when they're driving, they're hunched up over the steering wheel. And I think to myself, “ow can that possibly be comfortable?” I'll put a card up in the corner for you here on how to adjust the seat and how to adjust the controls on the vehicle.
And that's one of your first steps to reducing anxiety and tension associated with driving. As well, the seat belt can cut into your neck and there's an adjustment on the seat belt here to move the shoulder strap up and down. So make sure that you adjust that as well so that you're comfortable in the vehicle when you're sitting in it. That way it's going to help you to be more relaxed as you're driving.
#2 - Clean the Vehicle
Tip number two clean the vehicle take all of the junk out of the vehicle. Take some time, vacuum out the vehicle. Clean all the glass. All of that is going to reduce tension because it's the same thing as when we get dressed up and we do our makeup and we do our hair and we go out. We feel better about ourselves because we're dressed up and we look good and we know that other people are looking at us and know that we're dressed up and whatnot. It's the same thing with your car - make sure all the junk out of it, all of the dirt is off the dash. Give it a good vacuum, wash the outside, clean all the glass. As well, do a pre-trip inspection. And I'll put a card up in the corner for you on the video on how to do a pre-trip inspection.
And for those of you going for a road test I do really encourage you to detail your vehicle before you go down for your road test. Because when the examiner gets in the vehicle they're going to look at the vehicle, they're going to form a first impression about you as a person. Because if you have fast food containers in the foot wells and it’s dirty, and there's… you know, the dust is four inches deep on the dash, they're not going to be too impressed. So make sure that you clean the vehicle before you go down for road test. And make sure you clean the vehicle when you're learning how to drive. Because it just makes you feel better about the vehicle and gives you a better sense of pride and reduces tension and anxiety associated with the vehicle.
So wear comfortable clothing - tip number one. Tip number two: clean the vehicle - clean all the glass on the vehicle and do a pre-trip inspection. Because that way you know that the vehicle is tip-top and it's going to reduce any anxiety and fear associated with mechanical failure of the vehicle and those types of things. So that's tip number two. Tip number three if you have fear and anxiety around the road test and driving the vehicle and those types of things - take time out of your day, two or three times a day, and sit in the vehicle. simply sit in the vehicle and begin to familiarize yourself with both the primary and secondary controls of the vehicle. And I do advocate if you've seen any of my other videos slow-speed manoeuvres to get comfortable with the primary controls of the vehicle. The primary controls of the vehicle are the steering wheel. the throttle (the accelerator). Those are one-and-the-same thing, and the brake pedal. for those of you driving an automatic transmission.
For those of you driving a manual transmission, it's also the clutch, which is the other primary control. And work in a closed circuit area--in a parking lot or some other place where there isn't any traffic. And get some of those 36 inch, one meter tall, pylons and work with those and get comfortable with how the steering responds, how the throttle responds, and how the brake responds. And as well, when you're doing those types of slow-speed manoeuvres to get comfortable with the primary controls--I'm getting a little ahead of myself here--but the primary controls. I'll go back to sitting in the vehicle in a little bit. Be aggressive with the primary controls and feel how they respond when you're being aggressive.
So do that in terms of the primary controls. Now when you're sitting in the vehicle and becoming comfortable with the vehicle and familiarizing yourself with the vehicle, go over where the secondary controls are: the four-way flashers, the signals, the lights, the wipers, the creature comfort controls, the defrost, the heat, the air conditioning, the stereo - all of those types of things. Know where all of those secondary controls are on your own vehicle. And again, I'll put a card up in the corner for you for both secondary controls and the fundamentals of learning how to drive and accelerating your learning when it comes to driving.
Reducing fear and anxiety is about becoming familiar with the vehicle. And if you look at history, and you look at sports players, or people who have played music. Lots of sports players, for example, hockey players and football players - they'll carry the football around with them, they'll carry their hockey stick around because it's a familiarization with the equipment that they're using to learn to play that sport. The same thing with Jimi Hendrix - one of the greatest guitarists in history. Jimi Hendrix always, always, always carried his guitar around with him. And it was just that familiarization with the instrument, with the equipment that you need to learn how to do in sports. And it how you learn to do music - you need to learn how to drive and you need to become familiar with the vehicle.
And going back to that comfortable thing again - if you're not comfortable with the vehicle that you're driving, find a different vehicle to learn how to drive in. Because I've been in vehicles--the FJ Cruiser…the Toyota FJ cruiser. They've stopped manufacturing it now, but a few years ago I was one and I just felt claustrophobic. A couple of weeks ago, I was in Ontario and I rented a Nissan Murano. The same thing, I didn't feel comfortable in the vehicle. And I probably wouldn't ever purchase one… fun to rent, but uncomfortable to sit in because I just felt claustrophobic in the vehicle because the roof was too low for me. And I'm not even a big person. I'm not even six feet. So be comfortable, be familiar with the vehicle that you're in.
So that's tip number… what tip are we up to? We're up to tip number three. So tip number three - sit in the vehicle, become comfortable with the vehicle, and familiarize yourself with the controls in the vehicle.
#4 - Reduce Noise
Tip number four: Noise. Reduce any distractions in the vehicle. Get rid of your phone. Turn it off, put it in your purse, put it in the trunk. Don't have it in the vehicle with you. Turn the stereo down. Don't have the stereo on and those types of things. Because sound is very important for driving. And again, I'll put a card up in the corner for you on the importance of sound for driving. If you do have a passenger in the vehicle, ask them not to talk to you while you're driving. Because if there's a lot of noise, it's going to overwhelm your auditory senses. Amnd when it overwhelms your auditory senses it creates a lot of frustration, a lot of angst, and a lot of tension. So you need to reduce the amount of noise in the vehicle. And the distractions in the vehicle. And that is tip number four.
#5 - Breath, Visualize, Relax
Tip number five: breathe, visualize, relax. It's important that when you're sitting in the vehicle that you're breathing the whole time. That technique’s going to reduce tension. So breathe in through the nose all the way to your belly button, and then breathe out through the mouth. So imagine the good energy coming in, and the bad energy going out. [DEMONSTRATING THE BREATHING TECHNIQUE]. So it's important that we breathe in. By breathing all the way in and doing that abdominal breathing it forces your body to relax.
So when you're sitting in the vehicle you're going to visualize, you're going to visualize yourself driving and visualize yourself driving well. And the four most powerful words in the English language are: “I can do this! I can do this!” And that way it frames driving as a challenge. It is something that you need to develop skills and abilities. It is something that you can overcome. And then finally, the other thing that you can do is to help your body to relax is to tense your muscles up for five or ten seconds. And then let them go. That will get rid of the tension and angst that you're holding in your body. So just take your hands, for example, stretch it out like this, tense your muscles out for five or ten seconds, and then release. Hold, tense for five or ten seconds, and then release.
And do that with different parts of your body, your shoulders, your neck, your hands, elbows - those types of things – biceps, triceps. So just take the parts of your body--not while you're driving obviously--but while you're sitting in the vehicle and feel yourself to start to relax. And that will help you to get some of the tension out of your body. And remember that mantra in your head: “I can do this! I can drive well!” And then that way it just becomes a challenge of you learning skills and abilities. And every time you hear that little voice in your head that starts to get negative and starts to do say those negative things, just yell, “I can do this!” You know you don’t yell it out loud - you can if you're by yourself, but if you're in a crowd of people, you probably just want to yell it in your head. So that way it starts to quiet that little voice in our head. Because we all have that little voice.
And unfortunately it kind of gets a little negative and little yakky, and we need to silence that little voice and just say to ourselves, “I can do this!”
#6 - Progressive Steps
Tip number six: progressive steps. Reward yourself for the little steps. If you sat in the car for five minutes, three times in the day, reward yourself for that. Because that is a big step, especially if you are suffering post-crash trauma and you're trying to familiarize yourself with the vehicle and get back in the vehicle. Reward yourself, because nothing succeeds like success. So give yourself credit for the little steps that you've taken to get to that ultimate goal of being able to drive. As well, when you do start to drive, back out of the driveway, go back into the driveway. Just do that three or four times. And then go around the block. Start in residential areas, where there's low traffic, where there isn't any other traffic and those types of things. Just do right turns because they're easy to do. Start with little steps and move up.
Because remember, all the little steps are just stepping stones to your ultimate goal of being able to drive well. And take time out and celebrate your successes. Give yourself credit for those little successes. Because too often in life, we don't give ourselves enough credit for the little steps… the little successes that we have. We just think that one day we need to wake up--and if we're studying martial arts, for example, you know, within a week we need to be Bruce Lee. Well you can't be Bruce Lee in a week. You need to take the steps and enjoy the journey and work through the journey to get to the ultimate goal.
Because really, driving is a journey. It's not a destination. You're never going to wake up one day and go, “oh, Mario Andretti. No, you're not going to wake up and be Mario Andretti. Very few people end up being Mario Andretti, but you can get to a high level of confidence in driving. So progressive steps, in terms of learning how to drive.
#7 - Focus On What You're Doing
Tip number seven. And this is probably the most important tip: focus on what you're doing! When you're driving--as I said keep passengers in the vehicle quiet--focus on what you're doing. Because driving is a social activity. There's lots of peer pressure on the roadway from other drivers for you not to impede traffic. Other drivers pressure you to not drive too slow. If so they're going to be honking at you and those types of things. And that can create a lot of angst and a lot of fear and a lot of anxiety around driving. This pressure put on you by other drivers to not impede traffic.
And sometimes you will get pressured to proceed at an intersection when you shouldn't be going. So you have to focus on what you're doing. And this comes back to quieting that little voice in your head and knowing that what you're doing is driving safe. “I am being cautious and I am going when I am comfortable to go.” Because if you get pressured by other drivers, you could risk getting into a crash and you don't want to risk getting into a crash because you got pressured by other drives to go. Say for example, on a left-hand turn you proceed when you shouldn't because the space is inadequate.
As well, if you get into a situation that you can't handle, simply stop the vehicle. It doesn't matter - just stop the vehicle. Let the other road users clear out. And when the other road users clear out, then proceed. And finally if you get your anxiety scale from 1 to 10 - 10 being the most anxious or just going to have a panic attack, simply stop and take a break. Pull the vehicle over to the side of the road. It doesn't matter where it is. Put your four-way flashes on, get out of the vehicle. Do whatever you need to do to calm yourself down.
Take a break and then get back into the vehicle. Do not push forward through a panic attack and have a panic attack when you're driving. If you need to take a break, take a break. If you need to stop because the situation is overwhelming; you get into a situation that you can't handle, simply stop the vehicle. Let the other road users clear out and then proceed. Even if they're honking and those types of things. As I said, focus on what you're doing. It's the most important tip in learning how to drive and reduce fear in and anxiety around this activity.
#8 - Navigation
Tip number eight for new drivers who recently got their license and have taken driver education and taken the road test they have been in the vehicle where somebody else has been telling them going left and right and where to go. Now you get into the vehicle and you have to navigate. You have to know where you're going. And we're a bit duped by this because we're in the vehicle with our parents, were in their vehicle with family members, and other people, and friends and those types of things and they all know where their going because they've been to the doctor's office… you know 50 times in their lifetime.
And they've driven there lots and lots. Whereas you get in the vehicle and you're going to the doctor and you don't know where you're going. So navigation and route planning can create a lot of tension and angst. And figure out where you're going. Know where you need to take the right turns and the left turns and those types of things. Because getting lost can create a lot of frustration and a lot of angst. And I'm going to make a video here on GPS (Global Positioning Satellites). And as soon as I get that video on GPS, I'll put the link for that down in in the description there for you so that you can have a look at that and know how to do some route planning and navigation.
#9 - Work With Someone that Can Help
Tip number 9 is work with somebody else. Work with somebody that you trust: a family member, a friend that can give you some counsel in terms of left turns and right turns and other traffic situations that you might be having some difficulty with. If you need higher-level help, than do that too. When I worked at the hospital doing driver rehabilitation with drivers who were returning to driving, I worked with an occupational therapist. And the occupational therapist oftentimes had suggestions and information about different things that people could do in order to reduce some of their anxiety and fears surrounding driving.
As well, I was a driving instructor. If you do need a driving instructor or somebody to help you to return to driving to reduce some of your tension and fear, I do counsel you to call a driving school to work with a driving instructor who works with senior citizens. They’re generally the best qualified in terms of working with people who have a high level of fear and anxiety around driving. So that's another option in terms of working with somebody else. And then finally you might have to get to a professional therapist or counsellor. Somebody else who can give you some counsel in terms of how to reduce that fear and anxiety and put techniques and skills in place that will help you to reduce the fear and anxiety.
And oftentimes, if you're working with a professional counsellor, oftentimes you need to work with a driving instructor who is aware of that and can introduce you to progressive steps of driving, low density traffic, and those types of things, and help you celebrate the successes to get you to return to driving. So that's the last thing is working with somebody else to reduce fear and anxiety associated with driving.
Quick review of nine tips to reduce fear and anxiety associated with driving. Tip number one is to wear comfortable clothing. Make sure that the vehicle is adjusted properly so that you're comfortable driving the vehicle. And get the proper vehicle. Don't be.. you know… the big old Ford because it's just too hard to manoeuvre and handle - those types of things in terms of driving. So be comfortable. Tip number two is make sure the vehicle is clean. Get all the garbage out of the vehicle, vacuum it, clean the windows and those types of things.
Because as I said, the same thing is when you dress up and take time in your appearance, you're going to feel better about yourself. And it's the same thing with the vehicle, you're going to feel more comfortable driving. It's going to reduce your fear and anxiety associated with that. And then do a pre-trip inspection to make sure that the vehicle is mechanically sound. Tip number three is to sit in the vehicle and familiarize yourself with the controls. And sit in the car two or three times a day for five minutes. Go over all the secondary controls, know the primary controls.
And there's another video here on working with the primary controls and knowing what the response is of the primary controls in a parking lot. Or work in the local traffic area where you can do that and get a good feel of the primary controls on the vehicle. Tip number four is to reduce noise in the vehicle. Ask passengers not to talk, get rid of your phone, turn it off, put it in your purse, put it in the trunk, those types of things. As well, make sure you don't have the stereo on and those types of things.
Because all of that noise can overwhelm your auditory senses and can really cause distraction, and a lot of frustration and angst while you're driving. Tip number five: breathe, visualize, relax. So make sure that you do deep abdominal breathing because that will help your body to relax. Visualize yourself being a safe driver and being able to drive well. And remember the mantra, “I can do this! I can be a safe competent driver!” And that way, when you put those words in place it simply presents driving as a challenge where you need to learn skills, abilities, and techniques to put in place. That you can become a safe and competent driver. Because it's a journey, and it takes time. As I said, we can't become Bruce Lee overnight if we're studying martial arts. We need to practice and learn skills and abilities that will allow us to be a safe and competent driver.
So breathe, visualize, relax. And then as well, you can do those muscle techniques where you tense up the muscles in different parts of your body and that will help you to relax. As well put in place a scale of anxiety--one to ten--ten being a complete panic attack. And if you get into a situation when you're driving, simply stop the vehicle, and wait for other road users to clear out. That way you can simply proceed after your calm down. Aand if you need to stop, pull over and take a break until you can reduce the anxiety in tension. And that way you can carry on. Number six: progressive steps. Make sure that you start small and work big. So just driving out of the driveway, sitting in the vehicle, and as well, nothing succeeds like success. So those little steps that you've taken to familiarize yourself with the vehicle, drive around the block, and those types of things. Make sure you congratulate yourself on that and give yourself a little reward, whatever that might be… a bowl of ice cream or a high five.
So make sure you give yourself credit for the little successes. Tip number six: progressive steps - start little, work big - so backing into the driveway, sitting in the vehicle, getting familiar with the vehicle, those types of things. Working in low traffic areas. And that way you can become familiar with the vehicle and you can begin to see yourself working towards becoming a safe and competent driver. Tip number seven - probably the most important tip of all. Focus on what you're doing because driving is a social activity and there's a great deal of peer pressure from other drivers so that you don't hinder them or hold them up and those types of things. And they honk and honking is one of those things that overwhelms our auditory senses. So focus on what you're doing. Don't go on a left-hand turn, for example, until you're comfortable with going. Tip number eight: navigation.
Make sure after you get your license and you start driving by yourself that you know where you're going. Because not knowing where you're going and getting lost creates a great deal of frustration and tension and angst and those types of things. And then finally, the last one is to work with somebody else. Work with a family member or a friend or those types of things that can give you some counsel in different traffic situations and whatnot. And then work with a driving instructor. Ask for a driving instructor that works with seniors and those types of things because they have a lot more skills and abilities with working with people a fear and trepidation around driving. And then finally, you might have to work with a professional therapist or counsellor or an occupational therapist or somebody like that to help you to reduce your fear and anxiety around driving.
Question for my smart drivers:
Leave a comment down in the comment section there. All that helps out the new drivers who have some fear and anxiety around the task of learning how to drive and becoming a safe and competent driver. If you like what you see here share, subscribe, leave a comment down in the comment section. As well, hit that thumbs up button. Check out all the videos here on the channel if you're working towards a license or starting a career as a truck or bus driver. Lots of great information here. As well, head over to the Smart Drive Test website.
Great information over there and online courses that you can purchase. All of the courses are guaranteed pass road test first time or your money back guarantee - 60 days. As well, later this summer we're bringing out “Air Brakes Explained Simply.” It updates the 40-year-old air brake manuals currently in circulation. And there's a hundred multiple-choice questions for both the theory and practical exam for those of you working towards your CDL license. I'm Rick with Smart Drive Test. Thanks very much for watching. Good luck on your road test. And remember, pick the best answer not necessarily the right answer. Have a great day. Bye now.
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