I’ve been learning to drive for years; the reason it’s taken me so long is that I’ve been terrified of the roads forever and really struggled to get around all the controls with my dyslexia. To overcome these issues has been a massive challenge, but it’s been so worth the hard work and effort I put in. Knowing I can jump in the car and go on a road trip whenever the wanderlust grabs a hold of me is a great feeling, and I’m seriously looking forward to my first long journey.
While there is no quick fixes for overcoming fear and passing driving tests quickly, I thought I would share a couple of tips that I’ve learned throughout my process in the hope they help any other learners out there who are also struggling to shed the L plates…
- Take your time! If you’re unsure, slow down. When you’re parking, pulling out or doing a manoeuvre on the road, take your time. Don’t let other drivers put you off; after all you’re taking your time for their safety as well as yours!
- Do you struggle with remembering your right from left when under pressure? Because I sure do! Don’t get me wrong, I do know them, but when I’m trying to watch my speed, other cars on the road around me, switch gear and pull out onto a roundabout all at the same time my mind goes blank. How did I overcome that? I drew a little L on my left hand and R on my right. You heard it right, I went back to preschool to nail this one down. And you know what? There isn’t any shame in it! If you’re focusing on learning how to control your car, don’t panic about the little things, make life as easy as you can till you know what you’re doing.
- Chew gum! If you struggle to concentrate in the car, the best thing you can do is chew gum. I’m not sure what the science is behind it, but it can really calm you down and put you in the zone.
- Don’t be afraid to put little markers in your car to remind you of your best turning points for manoeuvres. A couple of pieces of washi tape on your wing mirror can really help guide you into parallel parking like a queen every time.
- Get in the zone before you get in the car! If you’re a nervous driver the last thing you want to do is psych yourself out before you sit in the drivers seat. If you’re a keen meditator, do a couple of minutes of deep breathing to get you into the right headspace. If that’s not your bag, tune out the world by listening to an audio book on itunes. I found that listening to Mindy Kaling and Amy Poehler really chilled me out and stopped my mind from wandering before a lesson. Not to mention that these ladies know how to put a smile on my face too!
Remember, persistence is key, and no matter how many years you’ve been driving, every time you get in the car will be different, meaning the learning is never complete. Practice practice practice!
Now all I need to do is decide where I want to go and the world’s my oyster! Good luck to everyone who’s currently in the process of becoming a fully fledged road queen – it will change your life. And as for the rest of you, I’ll catch you on the streets!