BLOG: How I conquer my fear of driving

The first time I took control of the wheel,  I was in panic.

I am clumsy, disoriented, left-handed and always confused. Am I fit to drive?

Just the thought of pressing the gas  scare me.  What if I hit someone? What if  I crash with a car?   

There are several other reasons that people like me have for not driving. There’s fear of the sound and sight of   large and busy cars beside or behind, crowded parking lot, traffic jam, slippery roads or the thought to be apprehended by police.

Overcoming fear of driving takes time but is certainly achievable. I still have some fear in my nerves whenever I am caught in the middle of an unpredictable traffic challenge but I am slowly getting the hang of it.

Here are some tips how I finally got my self into driving mode:

1. Draw that inner positive energy and motivation. Motivation should come from yourself alone. No amount of prodding from people around can force you .  Unless you put your heart into it, you can never start and get ahead.

In my case, the  need to finally  learn to drive came when my 11-year old daughter asked me what will be our pick-up arrangement when she finally gets to middle school next year at the same time while her brother is in another  school.

2. Be prepared. Before hitting the road, watching videos on you tube or reviewing driving manuals  helped me a bit in preparing physically and mentally.

From those, I did mind simulation from  switching the key or  setting up the side mirror to  pressing the gas or the break and turning the wheel. I just had to apply what I learned when I got to seat on a real car.

It added to my confidence and felt less silly of my self. It also saves time as there is no need for long explanation.

3. Find a driving  instructor that you are comfortable with. Google up,  read reviews,  get recommendations, do trials  and  settle with the one you are comfortable with in terms of teaching methods,  personality,   affordability and accessibility.  

Having a lovedone (example a husband) as your primary teacher  may  save you money but may add to your anxiety especially during the early learning days because their car does not have an extra brake for critical times. Plus of course, the question of whether they are patient enough or if they are passing on accurate/updated skill.

I had five different driving instructors in a span of   five months. At first, I wanted  a female and found Sukhi through Kijiji ads. Very good teacher, direct to the point, calm and patient, Sukhi took away my  fear of running the engine and made me go out of my comfort zone. We got along very well but unfortunately, we had to take a break because she had a family emergency.

Until I finally settled with my sister’s previous driving instructor, Kuya Conrad Almazan whose systematic, precise and detailed approach I find to be very helpful. Kung alam mo pala ang gagawin, nababawasan ang kaba.

Kuya Conrad is cool and very patient — kahit paulit-ulit at lagi akong nagkakamali. He customizes his teaching method to his student’s level of skills and fear.

With years of experience in being a driving instructor, he shared critical pointers and practical strategies for safe driving. He taught me skills not only so I could pass the road test but driving skills I would need for life. And his formula for parallel parking is perfect.

Soon I slowly found my self having more confidence in driving even under worst road condition.

4. Keep calm. Stay focused. I realize that driving takes the right   mind set.

When  I am nervous and in a rush, I am intimidated and get confused easily. It is important to relax to stay focused. This makes us concentrate more — paying attention to signs and pedestrians.

5. Practice, practice. practice. As you prepare for road test, learnings from formal driving lessons should be applied and tested in regular day-today driving scenarios. Kuya Conrad advised me to take every opportunity to drive outside our lessons so I build my confidence.

In Manitoba, you can practice driving with someone who has driving experience for three years. Good thing my husband Joji and sister Antonette trusted me (sometimes) and let me drive their car with them.

We start from  small, less travelled  streets  and familiar routes then made way to driving in main roads.

5. Maintain that driving spirit even if you fail the road test. It is normal to get upset but do not be discouraged from trying again. Do not stop driving. Remember, in driving you are putting not only your safety but the safety of your lovedones and other people in your hands. Learn from mistakes and improve.

My husband keeps telling me not to rush. “You will know you are ready to drive when driving becomes an instinct and you reach that point when you feel, the car becomes your body/”

 6. Driving experience differs from person to person. For people who may have higher level of anxiety, I read that there are driving programs that are designed and developed with the help of psychologists focusing on phobia, handling panics and overcoming fears. Contact the Manitoba Public Insurance for your queries. I hope they maybe able to help in terms of providing information.

There’s great joy and sense of fulfillment in this newly found independence. As beginner driver, I screw up many times and still get jitters but realize that there’s only one way to go but FORWARD (unless we’re backing up- then in that case, do REVERSE.

I hope through this post, I am able to inspire those like me who are scared to drive. Kung nakaya ko, kaya n’yo rin diba.

(My first solo driving with Nanay. More lakwatsa to come.)

#winnipegdriving, #drivingmanitoba, #fearofdriving #overcomingfearofdriving

Posted in Annoucer Blogs, Donna Natividad-Arenas

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