Fear In The Fast Lane: Looking At The Real Reasons You Hate Driving Unfamiliar Routes
When we first learn to drive, many of us imagine that getting behind the wheel at last will be a ticket to a better life. And, in many cases, the ability to travel longer distances at your leisure can most certainly kickstart your career and generally broaden your reach within the world. Whether you use that freedom for work, leisure, or a mixture of both, you can bet you’ll be better off for it.
The trouble is that, even after going through the learning process, an astounding amount of drivers altogether fail to make the most of that freedom. Rather, they seek jobs only in the local area and travel just those small distances between home, work, and maybe their parents’ houses.
As well as being a waste of money (why not just walk?!), this limited driving reach can be as much of a setback as an inability to drive in the first place. But, with fear preventing an astounding amount of us from tackling roads/areas we don’t know, it’s not all that unusual. After all, everyone likes what they know, and that’s a caution that can stop you from spreading your wings, even when you have the power to do so.
This is obviously bad news, not only for your prospects but also for your driving skills. After all, familiar roads breed bad driving habits, and not going on the highway, etc. could soon see you forgetting those abilities altogether.
With this in mind, we would argue that you owe it to your prospects and your vehicle to overcome this sooner rather than later. And, to do that, you simply need to ask yourself why you’re so afraid of driving unfamiliar routes in the first place.
You can’t stand to think about the worst-case scenario
When you drive on familiar roads, you know every risk, corner, and speed limit there is. Heck, you likely even know some of the cars that you drive past each morning! To some extent, this level of familiarity allows us to slip into a false sense of security that the worst (in this case, a car crash,) will never happen to us. And, this is your main issue.
After all, crashes and other such risks are a standard part of driving, and ignoring that is never going to help you a) break free or b) be the best driver that you can be. Even if you’re sticking local, it’s worth recognizing this so that you’re forever on the alert/aware of what to do if the worst does happen.
For your long-distance prospects, especially, versing yourself in this way is your best chance at facing those fears head-on. For instance, keeping a breakdown company’s number in your phone ensures that you’re never left stranded no matter where you venture. Equally, taking the time to compare auto insurance rates and find the best deal guarantees protection regardless of location. And, of course, keeping a flat-tire kit in your car is an absolute must at all times.
Far from leaving you bleakly dwelling on the risks of an accident each time you get behind the wheel, these preparations can bolster your driving more than you’d think. Not only do they give you a get-out plan if something were to happen, but they also make you realize that an accident can occur anywhere, be that five-minutes from your home or four hours away. And, with that in mind, you have to ask – what are you waiting for?
You’re not doing the prep
Long-distance drives are easier now than ever before, and we have one simple app to thank for it. Google Maps has made it possible not only to map out our routes/entrust GPS to take us the entire way but also to head into street view and quite literally map out those unfamiliar roads. As such, 21st-century drivers can work out what lane they need to be in well before they approach that massive unfamiliar roundabout!
Yet, it’s astounding how many drivers don’t even think to make the most of this benefit. Rather, they say that they don’t like driving unfamiliar routes and that’s that. But, that’s the beauty of this, isn’t it? When you can walk those roads from the safety of your home the night or even week before, could you even refer to them as unfamiliar routes anymore? Certainly, this level of prep can take a whole load of anxiety off your shoulders and makes it much more likely that your journey will be smooth, and thus lead to further long-distance excursions.
We aren’t even saying that you need to spend hours on this in the run-up to a journey (though if you want to, that’s fine too!), rather you need only spend around ten minutes getting the lay of the land. It’s a small step in the grand scheme of things, but it can make a huge difference to improving your confidence as a driver, no matter where you happen to venture.
You aren’t versed in the basics
Speaking of improving your confidence as a driver, a fear surrounding unfamiliar routes can often come down to simple gaps in driving knowledge. After all, we each forget those driving lessons that we never use. Remember, driving familiar routes can sometimes breed bad habits, and sometimes it leaves us forgetting standard road rules altogether. For obvious reasons, this is going to make trips further-afield seem much more daunting.
After all, road rules are there for a reason. They’re nationwide, and they’re the backbone for any driving excursion. More importantly in this instance, knowing information such as who has right of way or when right turns are permitted means that you can take on any road. Even better, you can do so without once having to question whether you’re doing things ‘right’ or are staying safe.
This is a genius thing to realize, as it means that overcoming your long-distance fears couldn’t be any easier. Simply get out your old driving books (or head online) and refresh your knowledge for lovely long-distance journeys, guaranteed, moving forward.
You’re too scared to practice
In this as in anything, practice makes perfect. The more you drive unfamiliar roads, the better equipped you’ll be to tackle complex lane changes, manoeuvre awkward little lanes, and generally do it all without having a panic attack.
The trouble is that a fear of driving those unfamiliar roads can prevent you from practicing in the first place. As such, when you do have to tackle the unknown, you’re more likely to get nervous and make mistakes. After all, you’ve never done it before, or at least not if you could help it!
By comparison, drivers who regularly make an effort to practice on roads that they don’t know are much better equipped, and will typically have a far smoother driving experience. It’s a catch 22, and it only has one solution. Even if you just take a new road home or drive another route to the shops, you’re getting all-important practice that could, ultimately, free you of your fear altogether.
You’re focusing on the journey, not the destination
Lastly, an insurmountable fear of driving unfamiliar routes suggests, to some extent, that you’re dwelling too much on the journey. After all, driving is a means to an end, and treating it as more than that is only ever going to trip you up.
Remember, you learnt to drive in the first place because you wanted to increase your opportunities. Yes, you may have to drive on unfamiliar roads to achieve those goals, but when you think about it, isn’t it well worth all of that worry?
After all, for the sake of driving a few hours on a road you don’t know too well, you could enjoy everything from new career prospects through to new relationships. If you get really brave, you could even relocate altogether, and embark on life in an entirely new area (with entirely new roads.)
In the vast majority of cases, taking this long view on your overall destination shows that it’s more than worth a little driving stress. So what if you find yourself in the wrong lane somewhere along the way? Look at what you could enjoy at the end of it.
Conclusion: put your fear in the fast lane
It’s important to remember that you aren’t alone in feeling a little anxiety at the prospect of driving unfamiliar routes. We’re creatures of habit, after all, and the unknown inevitably sends the jitters up us.
In many ways, this fear is actually what stands to make you a better driver. You know the risks and, if you take the steps mentioned, you’ll do whatever you can to protect yourself and others against them.
Ultimately, though, letting your fear hold you back is a guaranteed way to waste your driving efforts and your dreams. Don’t let it happen. Instead, put your fear in the fast lane, and then let these tips take the wheel every step of the way.