For most new licensed drivers and the experienced specialists, the highest cause of anxiety is driving on the highway. The fears are more in the mind, experts say. Ironically, what drivers fear most is usually the safest part: the highway. Federal transportation data have consistently shown that highways are safer than regular roads. Only a small percentage of people are involved in fatal highways accidents compared to millions on the road.
One reason is that everyone is headed in the same direction at similar speed so unexpected surprises are lesser. You won’t find cars suddenly hitting hard on the brakes, pulling out from side streets or making errors at traffic signals. Unfortunately, it can be hard to avoid highways when driving. Here are a few ways to make the best of the situation and overcome your fears.
3 Main Fears of Highway Driving
Before we steer into overcoming problems, let us identify what are the root causes of highway driving fear.
The first real fear, especially when the highways are clogged with traffic, is to merge into the raging river of vehicles. You need high skill to navigate the car into the current.
- To beat your anxiety, avoid driving during rush hour. Make sure you have an experienced driver by your side to encourage you to go ahead and watch out for blind spots.
- Take defensive driving classes to build more confidence and steer your car more skillfully.
Switching lanes can be extremely tough in heavy traffic.
- Plan ahead before changing lanes instead of cutting across sharply. Preparing yourself mentally can help avoid sudden concerns. Use the navigation apps that guide you turn-by-turn, giving you estimates well ahead.
If you are used to driving at lower speeds, pushing down on the gas pedal to match the demands of highway speeding can be unnerving. It is a mental block that builds up the tension, the imagery in your mind more than actual proceedings. It is hard to leave your comfort zone.
- Stay in the right lane if you can. Allow traffic to move ahead of you from the left. A little lesser speed can bring down your anxiety level.
- Maintain the required speed limit while you do so. Slowing down sharply can be detrimental to others but you don’t have to race ahead because others are doing so.
Most importantly, practice highway driving with experts before you venture out by yourself. Habitual driving will ease your concerns more and more over time. Ultimately, it’s all in the mind. Confidence will allow you to keep up with the others without getting overwhelmed. Make sure you are well rested before taking the highway and in a good physical and mental condition. Highway driving requires you to be more alert than usual. That’s half the battle won.
To conquer the other half, reach out to Driver-Zed for a virtual driving experience test that develops your abilities on the highway. This does not involve a simulator. You simply sit behind the wheel and a video is played to provide a scene, preparing you for different scenarios. Call us to find out more and drive with confidence, no matter what stage you are in.