Learning to drive is ridiculously exciting. However old you are, and whatever stage of life you are in, being able to drive gives you freedom and control. It means that you don’t need to rely on anyone else to get anywhere and gives you a new sense of responsibility and control over your own days. You become free to be spontaneous and have more fun. But, it can also be hard work.
Many people don’t find driving easy in the beginning. It can take a while for the nerves to subside and for everything to click, and that’s fine. It’s best to take longer to learn and be safer on the road than to rush and find that you’re not ready when you do get your own wheels.
But, even if you have as many lessons as you want and take your time, it’s always a little different when you are out in a car on your own. You’ll have spent time choosing the perfect first car and arranging the best auto insurance coverage only to find when it comes to actually driving it; you feel just like you did in that first lesson.
Some people get in their own car on that first day and love it. The nerves have gone before they get to the end of their street. They feel condiment and powerful, and they love being out on the road without anyone watching over them. Others, don’t. They find they are very uncomfortable being out on their own and stick to smaller journeys they know well for the first
Whichever camp you fall into, that first long drive can come as a bit of a shock. Whether you’re nervous or full of confidence, you’ll find driving an unfamiliar route for hours is very different from driving around your local estates on roads you know well. Here are some things that you should do to help yourself prepare if you’ve got a long journey coming up.
An essential thing that you need to do before any long journey, no matter how long you have been driving is the car safety checks. First, check that the tread and pressure of the tires are correct. Make sure your brakes are in good working order, that your lights work, that your oil, coolant and screen wash levels are within acceptable boundaries and that the horn and steering are working well. Then, sit in the car and make sure all of the dashboard lights are off. Check out any warnings.
Make sure that you perform these checks well in advance of your journey so that you’ve got time to top up and make repairs if needed. Then all you need to do is make sure that you’ve got enough gas for the trip so that you don’t have a panicked search for a gas station in an unfamiliar area.
Practice with Sat Nav
If you’ve only ever driven near home, chances are you haven’t got much, if any experience using a satellite navigation system. It can be a little different to how you expect, so practice with it on a route you know before your journey. Make sure things like volume and position are how you want them, and try to get used to following directions while also keeping a close eye on road signs.
Build up Slowly
Some people prefer just to jump in and get a more significant journey out of the way as soon as you can. If that’s what you want to do, go for it. But, don’t feel you have to. There is nothing wrong with taking your time, building up to longer drives slowly and taking someone with you for moral support. Remember, you can also book lessons after you’ve started driving, just for that extra support and guidance. Don’t be rushed, go at your own pace.
Study a Map
If you plan to use a sat nav, you might think you don’t need to look at a map. But, it’s important that you do. Sat nav’s aren’t always right, and there can be changes along the way. So, while they make an excellent guide, it will help you to study a map and know your journey before you start.
Prepare Some Music
Some people prefer to drive in silence and find that’s the only way they can concentrate and others like to listen to music as they find it helps them to relax and calm down. As long as it doesn’t hinder your concentration, go for it. But, you don’t want to be messing about searching for tracks or loading new albums. So, prepare and load up a playlist before you start so that you don’t have to think about it while you are driving.
Plan Some Stops
It’s always a good idea to plan some stops along the way, even if you don’t think you’ll need them. This way you know you’ve got a break coming up, where it is and how to get there. If you don’t want to stop, you don’t have to, but it’s all planned out and accounted for if you do.
Learn to Loosen Up
One problem many newer drivers have when they first start making longer journeys is that it hurts their neck, shoulders, back, hands and arms. This is usually because of tension. Newer drivers hold the wheel tight, sit straight and firm and carry a lot of tension. Sitting in that same position with such a weight on your shoulders can get very uncomfortable and leave you feeling stiff.
Do some simple stretches before you get into the car, roll your head and shoulders every time you feel tension kicking in, and go for a short walk to stretch out when you do stop. You should also make sure your seat is straight and that you’re not sitting in a slouched position as you drive. As you get more used to driving, you’ll find this happens less and less.
When you arrive at your destination, pat yourself on the back. Your first long drive is an achievement. Well done!