10 top driving tips: How to be more confident on the road

March 24, 2022 by

Everyone reacts a little differently to driving. Some of us are naturally confident drivers, but for others, it can be a much more daunting task.

It’s natural to feel a little nervous behind the wheel, especially if you’ve just passed your test or you haven’t driven for a long time.

If that applies to you, these 10 driving tips are here to help you conquer that fear and become more confident on the road.

carwow’s top 10 driving tips:

  1. Familiarise yourself with your car
  2. Find the right driving position
  3. Minimise your distractions
  4. Take your time
  5. Don’t let other drivers intimidate you
  6. Get to know your most-used roads
  7. Practice in new areas when it’s quiet
  8. Read the Highway Code
  9. Take breaks if you’re driving long distances
  10. Consider an advanced driving course

1. Familiarise yourself with your car

It’s worth spending some time learning the ins and outs of your car. Familiarising yourself with the locations of controls can help prevent a bit of a panic if you suddenly find yourself needing to use them.

Spend some time getting to know where controls for the headlights, fog lights and hazards are, for example. It’s worth getting a feel for changing the climate control and any infotainment functions too, so you can minimise distraction if you’re using those on the move.

2. Find the right driving position

Being comfortable behind the wheel is important. Make sure you can reach the pedals easily but have enough room to comfortably turn the steering wheel.

A good place to start is to stretch your arm and see if you can rest your wrist on the top of your steering wheel. If you can do so comfortably with just a slight bend in your arm, you’re about the right distance from your steering wheel.

Make sure you’re sat high up enough to see a good amount of your car’s bonnet too, albeit not so high that it feels like you’re stood over the pedals.

Once you’re happy with your seating position, remember to adjust your mirrors accordingly too.

3. Minimise your distractions

The key to being confident behind the wheel is to stay focused. It’s good to take some time to minimise potential distractions before you start driving.

Clear out anything you don’t need in your car that could cause distracting rattles, avoid hanging anything from your rearview mirror and remember to turn your phone’s notifications off if you’re using it in a fixed cradle for navigation.

Ideally, if you don’t need to use it for navigation, put your phone well and truly out of sight.

4. Take your time

More important than anything while driving is to get to your destination safely. If you start trying to rush things behind the wheel, you’re more likely to panic and ultimately put yourself at a greater risk.

Be patient both with other drivers and yourself. Give yourself as much time as possible when approaching junctions, then pull away gently and with plenty of room to do so. Make sure you’re ready for speed limit changes well in advance, rather than having to stamp on your brakes to slow down at the last minute.

5. Don’t let other drivers intimidate you

If someone is driving two inches from your rear bumper and looking to hurry you up, try your best to ignore them. Stick to your own driving and don’t let other people’s erratic behaviour dictate how you act.

If someone is following you too closely, try to increase the gap between you and the car in front. This gives you more room to slow down gently if a car ahead brakes suddenly, lowering the risk of getting rear-ended by the tailgater.

Even if you’re in a tiny hatchback and they’re imposing with a massive SUV, just remain calm and don’t feel pressured into speeding up. Adapt your driving to reduce the risk as much as possible.

6. Get to know your most-used roads

If you’re regularly covering the same roads, such as your commute to work, it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with them.

Take some time when it’s quiet to drive up and down them, and get an idea of any potentially tricky roads or junctions. Uncertainty is often a cause for nerves, so knowing your local roads well can help minimise the pressure you feel when driving.

7. Practice in new areas when it’s quiet

Though knowing your most-used roads well is important, it’s good to take yourself out of your comfort zone.

Take some time one quiet evening or weekend to drive to areas you never would otherwise. This is a good way to get used to new and potentially unexpected types of roads and junctions, which in turn should help your confidence when driving to new places.

8. Read the Highway Code

There’s a lot of information in the Highway Code and it can be hard to remember every single section of it. However, keeping yourself familiar with the rules of the road can help your confidence massively.

If you know exactly what you should and shouldn’t be doing, it removes a layer of uncertainty that could potentially lead to nerves.

This doesn’t mean having to study it religiously, though. An occasional browse, while you’re brewing a cup of tea, will do, or you could even leave it in your bathroom for light reading when nature calls.

9. Take breaks if you’re driving long distances

If you’re taking a long drive, make sure you’re allowing yourself plenty of time for breaks.

Holding your focus on the motorway for hours on end can be tricky, so it’s important to stretch your legs and refresh yourself now and then.

10. Consider an advanced driving course

Improving your driving skills is a sure-fire way to improve your confidence behind the wheel.

Advanced driving courses are a bit like taking your lessons again, albeit more tailored to your exact needs.

These will typically involve an assessment from your tutor, who will look at areas of your driving to improve. They’ll then work with you to improve skills and confidence on what they feel would most benefit you.

What to avoid when driving

  • Avoid trying to rush out of junctions. You’ll only be more likely to stall or put yourself at risk of other vehicles approaching quickly.
  • Avoid looking at your phone. Not only will being caught using your phone while driving land you points and a fine, but it’s also just downright dangerous and distracting. Only use it for navigation if you have to, and make sure it’s held securely in a cradle. Keep notifications off to minimise distractions.
  • Avoid driving if you’re feeling particularly overwhelmed. If you’re finding yourself feeling overly nervous and panicky while driving, find somewhere to safely pull up and take a breather.
  • Avoid copying the behaviour of other drivers. This could potentially lead to bad habits or putting yourself at risk. Always focus on your own driving first and foremost.