On the 23rd of March 2020 the UK went into lockdown due to COVID-19, and only essential trips were allowed to be made. This meant that young drivers (either learners or new drivers) weren’t getting behind the wheel as much, if at all.
Over a year later and we’re finally seeing the light at the end of a very gloomy tunnel. As shops reopen, family reunions begin, and life starts to look ‘normal’ again – what does it mean for those drivers who may not have been behind the wheel for a year?
Many young drivers can find it nerve-wracking to drive again after taking a significant amount of time away from the car. We have a guide on preparing learner drivers for getting back behind the wheel in that first driving lesson, but this one is for those qualified drivers who are just as nervous to start driving again. Use the tips and advice below to rebuild your driving confidence and skill after lockdown.
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 practise some of the basics, like clutch control or the manoeuvres that you’re worried about. 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, windscreen wiper conditions, 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. We have a car maintenance checklist to help you know what to keep an eye out for.
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.
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.
Watch tutorials to help you
If you haven’t driven for the best part of a year and all of a sudden realise, for example, that you’ve completely forgotten how roundabouts work – don’t worry! There are so many guides and tutorials to help you, reminding you of what you already know before you get back in the car. We pulled together a driving instructor masterclass over on our YouTube channel which covers all of the basics – there’s nothing wrong with having a refresher before heading out.
Have a driving lesson
If you’re really unsure and nervous about driving again, why not give your old instructor a call and ask for a couple of driving lessons, or ask an experienced family member to sit by you whilst you practise driving? The pandemic has been an unprecedented time for everyone, so there’s no shame in asking for a helping hand should you need it!