On the 23rd of March the UK went into lockdown due to COVID-19, and only trips that were essential are the ones allowed to be made. This meant that young drivers (either learners or new drivers) may have taken a break from driving. Anyone who has taken a break from driving before knows that this can seriously affect your confidence.
As lockdown restrictions begin to ease, many young drivers can find it nerve-wracking to get back behind the wheel. Here are some tips and advice to help you keep your cool and to rebuild your confidence on those first few trips that aren’t just to the shops. Remember you should only be driving for permitted reasons – for further info head to the gov.uk website.
Go back to basics
If you’re worried about driving, it’s probably not the best idea to jump in your car and join the inevitable traffic once we’re allowed out and about. Head to a quiet area (or ask a member of your house to drive you there) and practice some of the basics, like manoeuvres that you’re worried about or clutch control. You’ll get used to it again before you know it.
Make sure your car is ready
Before setting off, give your car a quick check over. If it hasn’t been run in a while it may take some time to get back to normal. Be sure to check things like your oil level, screen wash, winder wiper conditions and your tyre pressure and tread depth. Also, ensure you’ve got enough fuel to keep you on the road – if you haven’t, fill up before your journey properly starts. Small things like this will keep your mind on the road and not worrying about the car.
Keep calm and drive on
We know it’s easier said than done but keeping as calm as possible when you’re driving for the first time in a while will keep you and other drivers safe. If you feel like it’s getting too much or you’re struggling to continue with your journey, find a safe place to pull over. For the first few journeys, it may be wise to take someone with you who can take over the driving if you need them to. There are more tips and advice on keeping calm and overcoming anxiety behind the wheel in our article here.
Take your time
It’s completely natural to be nervous when getting back behind the wheel after a long time but as they say, it’s just like riding a bike! Don’t task yourself with a big trip straight away if you’re anxious – take some shorter trips and get used to being behind the wheel again before you do too much too soon. It’s going to stress you out more if you plan a big trip to then cancel it – build up to something before planning it in and make sure you’re calm and confident when driving. The same goes for when you’re on the road – take your time in the driving itself. Remember, the signs show the speed limit – not the speed goal. If you need to take it slow and steady for a while, then do so. If you’re a qualified driver, get those P plates out of storage and pop them on to let other drivers know you’re getting back into the swing of things.
If you or anyone in your household has had symptoms, you should self-isolate, and in these circumstances, you should not drive.
Read the Prime Minister’s address and the government website for the latest information. If you are a driver in Scotland or Wales, the rules around driving may differ, please check the gov.scot website or the gov.wales website for their specific advice.
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