Hayley has recently passed her driving test, and taken the next step by heading out onto the motorway! This is a daunting time for new drivers, so it’s great to hear these stories first hand. Let’s see how Hayley got on!
After passing my test in December last year, I dreaded going on the motorway and tried to avoid them as much as I could. Thinking about them filled me with dread and caused a lot of anxiety, as I’m sure it does for many new drivers! What would it be like to drive on a 4 lane fast road? How do I merge on and off of the motorway? All of this and so much more was going through my head!
Picking up the courage
It was around mid-March that I decided to have a chat with my Mum about driving on the motorway! She supported me with the learning to drive process, so I wanted to go to her with my worries. Things would be much easier if I could face my fear and actually use motorways, and my Mum agreed. But I didn’t want to do it alone, so she decided to come on the motorway with me, offering me support and guidance if needed – thanks, Mum!
It’s a dual carriageway, right?
Before setting off onto the motorway, I wanted to check what it would really be like to drive on one, so I did lots of research and asked my Mum how she finds driving on a motorway. It turns out, they are actually very similar to a bypass or a dual carriageway. You have to join a bypass or dual carriageway in the same way you do on the motorway. Some bypasses are up to 70 mph so it really does feel like a motorway, the only difference being with a bypass or dual carriageway you can find roundabouts on route, the motorway is one straight road.
The first motorway drive
I took the plunge and went out with my Mum on to the dreaded motorway. I was feeling quite nervous beforehand (who wouldn’t be?) but I tried to think of the motorway like the dual carriageways and bypasses that I was used to.
The biggest worry for me the first time on the motorway was the slip roads I had to deal with to get on and off of it. Approaching it, I could feel the anxiety kicking in, but I knew I could do this – like I had some many times of the parkway before. I took a deep breath, picked up my speed and joined. It felt amazing. Joining the motorway for the first time and I had no issues! As soon as I got to the end of the slip road, I tried to imagine that my Mum was examining my ability to drive safely, and this really did give me the confidence I needed.
I had picked up my speed on the slipway, I ensured I checked my mirrors and blind spot while ensuring I indicated so any approaching drivers were aware of my intentions. I also had the dreaded P plates on my car, for an extra ‘I’m new at this’ signal.
I feel that driving on the motorway for the first time with my Mum by my side helped me gain the confidence I needed to attempt to go alone on the motorway. Having my Mum by my side meant if I did get into a tricky situation, she could guide me through it just like she did while supporting me through my learning to drive journey. After having someone with me I decided it was time to tackle the motorway alone. I had finally started to gain some confidence and I was on my way of facing my fear of motorway driving!
I’m driving solo
For my next motorway journey, I decided I would give the motorway a try on my way to work… on my own! Even though it takes more time to drive to work this way, I decided to get up earlier than usual on the Sunday morning, to get in extra motorway driving practice! It was 6.30 in the morning so the motorway was fairly quiet, not like the Friday when I went with my Mum! It really helped to experience the motorway at different times and in different conditions.
When I got on to the motorway there were lorries going at around 60 mph in my lane. I knew I needed to get past them – so I promptly overtook the lorries. Managing to do this brought on my confidence leaps and bounds! I was meeting a friend in a few days and the easiest route to where we were meeting, meant driving on the motorway so the fact I felt ok on there now was fantastic.
The great British weather
When heading to see my friend, the drive there on the motorway was fine – and much like I had experienced before. On the way home, however, it was late at night and I managed to find myself driving in a storm! Not what I needed for one of my first few motorway trips, but needs must.
I joined the motorway and felt fine! However, after a while, there was a pretty big lorry driving alongside me. The wind and rain made it feel as though it pushing me and my car into the barriers! To make things even worse, the rain was bouncing off of the road – meaning vision was slightly impaired. To top it all off, my sat nav then decided to die! So not only did I have to deal with the rain, wind and giant lorries – I also had to look out for road signs to know where to get off the motorway (it couldn’t come soon enough!). As scary as it was, all I could do was try my best to focus and use all the skills I gained from when I was learning to drive and the first drive I’d had on the motorway with my Mum.
Once I arrived home the feeling was fantastic! I had actually faced my fear, and not just in normal basic weather – I had already faced the horrible stormy weather. Now I have done the motorway I don’t think anything will stop me from having many more adventures.
So to all new drivers out there, don’t worry – it isn’t too bad. Take that plunge and drive on the motorway, you’ll thank yourself for it later! Try and think of it as a big bypass or dual carriageway. You may be used to driving on these more from when you were learning! That’s what I tried to think of and it really helped me.
Safe driving everyone