Do you feel less confident with driving now than you did prior to the last lockdown ? There could be several factors involved.
Where do you feel your skill level was when you last drove regularly? Can you identify any weaker areas in knowledge or ability that still need attention? Do you just feel a bit ‘rusty’? How can you improve ?
You may just need some reinforcement of previously learned material . Marmalade have published a series of driving instructional videos on YouTube which are useful or look for specific advice . Consider contacting your current/ previous instructor for advice.Thanks
Equally are you anxious that you will forget how to deal with some situations? Use my blogs to reinforce the skills you developed whilst learning or enhance them. When lockdown is relaxed or you are able to drive an essential journey ( shopping, education, work ) go with someone who can help with reflection on your decisions and actions . Prior to your journey reflect on what situations and hazards you will most likely need to deal with. Consider a confidence lesson with your instructor or contact a local instructor to discuss options.
When driving focus on your awareness and planning. This is key to assessing hazards ahead and making correct decisions. Are you looking and assessing far enough ahead ? Are you spotting/considering observation links EG rubbish bags outside houses = rubbish day = refuse vehicles . What can’t you see ? Are you taking weather, road conditions and your and your vehicles capabilities into account ? Try doing a commentary on your driving. You will be surprised what you are actually spotting as potential hazards. Include what type of road you are on, speed limit, amount of traffic, where does the road go ahead, what can you see, what is happening or could happen , how that is or could affect you and what are you doing about it.
Are you easily distracted ? Do you need to keep focussed on driving. Remove / reduce distractions especially for the first couple of journeys if returning to driving . Do you really need your phone to be in view ? Do you look at your passenger when you talk to them ? (Your passenger may notice this and be rather unnerved but is too polite to tell you . ) Keep your concentration on observation , awareness and planning for driving .
Other drivers and road users may affect you and there are additional risks produced by lockdown and Covid recommendations. It is noticeable that during lockdown with less traffic around some drivers are cutting across / shaving junctions when turning into them and failing to signal when they should . Some drivers observation and assessment of speed and distance is lacking. Others are driving too fast in the weather conditions . All this increases risk . Again good anticipation ,observation and awareness and planning as part of being a defensive driver will counteract the risks.
Pedestrians may be less likely to look adequately before crossing roads and will step out into the carriageway to carry out social distancing. There are more walkers and cyclists around, more parked vehicles in rural areas / parks and open spaces .
All this increases risk . Again if you identify and anticipate , look well ahead so you are aware and plan your reaction as part of being a defensive driver this will counteract the risks. Common theme , yes. Does it work , yes, dependent on the drivers ability to concentrate .
Let’s work through the following situation to identify critical observations and decisions the driver needs to make .
You are driving along an urban road but there is only one pavement on your side / on your left . You see two pedestrians well ahead one is walking one is jogging towards the other . The pavement is narrow . What could happen ? What do you need to consider ?
Most likely one will step into the road around the other , start considering ……..where will you be when/ if that happens ? Is there anyone behind you? ( mirrors ) . How does the road ahead affect your vision…is there a bend or parked vehicle ? Is your speed suitable? Are there any vehicles approaching from ahead ? If so how much room is there ? Will you be able to overtake or do you need to stop or slow down to give the pedestrians a safety gap ? If so do so early. Be defensive . This will make you more predictable to other road users . The pedestrians may guess you have seen them , you will also be controlling the vehicle(s) behind. But consider they may not be as observant as you . So keep an eye on them especially if you need to manouvre around the pedestrians . Will you be able to if there are vehicles approaching you or even overtaking you . Does the vehicle ahead or behind need more information from you ….consider a directional signal . The driver decides to overtake safely as it is safe to do so . Once dealt with the situation is history, there is no need to dwell on it , now look for the next situation ahead ! Keep your vision moving up the road , scanning the whole picture in front of you . The situation above was negotiated successfully . Why ? Because the driver anticipated and saw the potential hazard, was aware of the surrounding factors affecting decision making , assessed the situation promptly and made a decision and carried out a safe manouvre .
If you have had a bad experience driving or as a passenger in another car this will affect your anxiety levels . This is a natural reaction but may need putting in perspective and some positive reinforcement necessary to regain your confidence . Was the issue caused by the actions of another road user ? Could you have dealt with it differently . Do you need some expert advice/ practice to prevent it happening again. Don’t sit on the negative worry , seek some advice .
Please also consider Prior to your journey , how long your car has been sitting there unused ? See my blog on pre driving checks . You wouldn’t be too happy as a passenger on a plane if your captain announced ‘Well ladies and gentlemen this plane has been parked up for a few weeks now . It was ok last time we flew it , we’re in a bit of a hurry so it’s not been checked over , so hopefully it will be ok today !!! ‘
Answer to diagram :
Van driver could open van door
Dog walker / dog could cross the road
Cyclists could swerve / move out without looking Or even fall off ( pothole )
Bus could stop at a bus stop or block the road or slow down due to the cyclist .
Another vehicle could appear towards from around the bend .
How did you do ? Did you go for the overtake to tuck in behind the bus …no …well done, you made the defensive decision and the correct one.