Driving is dangerous. There’s no point in denying that. While modern cars are much safer than older vehicles, and safety regulations, road laws and driving standards mean that the roads are much safer than they’ve ever been before, when you are driving at speed on a busy road, there is always going to be a risk. You can do what you can to look after your car, and you can drive as carefully as possible, but unfortunately, you can’t guarantee that everyone else on the road will be doing the same, and even if they are, accidents happen.
While statistically speaking you are as likely to have an accident on the road as you are in many other areas of life, the numbers also show that most of us will have an accident at some point. If you start driving at 16, stats tell us that you will probably have had a car accident by the time you are 34 and that you might have had four accidents during your driving lifetime. If you are lucky, these accidents will be minor scrapes, hopefully, while parking or otherwise traveling very slowly.
But even these minor accidents can be scary, and bigger incidents can be absolutely terrifying. You might find that even after you have recovered from an injury that you may have sustained and had your car fixed up, your confidence has taken a severe knock and that you are reluctant to get back on the road. Here are some tips to help you.
Get Your Car Serviced
If you are lucky, your car will have come out of your accident without any serious, or costly damage. But, even if it seems absolutely fine, you should take it into the garage or dealership for a checkup. Book it in for a full service and tell the mechanic about what has happened. Don’t drive your car again until it’s been given the all-clear. After a service, you’ll also know that it’s in tip-top condition and that everything has been checked and changed if needed. This might not improve your own confidence, but at least you’ll be reassured that your car is ready to drive again.
Learn What You Can
Whether the accident was your fault or not, there is probably plenty that you can learn from it. Think about the details. Where were you? What were you doing? What was your driving position? How fast were you going? Where did the other vehicle come from? Could you have spotted them sooner? Was there anything that you could have done differently? But, also try to learn from the mistakes of the other driver, so that you don’t make them for yourself in the future.
Deal with Any Other Issues
The best way to get back into the car and on the road after an accident is to stop thinking about it. If you are up all night worrying and reliving what happened, you will never feel comfortable going back. Once you’ve thought about it and learnt some lessons, you should try to let it go. But, it’s not that simple if you are still dealing with an injury lawyer, insurance claims, car repairs and any other issues from your accident, it’s hard to let things go and start to relax. So, deal with everything that you need to as quickly and thoroughly as you can. It’ll help you to move on.
Talk About It
Moving on isn’t about blocking it out and forgetting things. Nor is it about bottling it up and never talking about it. In fact, talking about what’s happened can help you to get over it, learn from it and move on. It can help you to reduce any feelings of guilt or anxiety that you might have, and make getting back into the car less scary. If you are feeling particularly anxious, you might even want to speak to your doctor, or a counselor to help you to move forward.
Start with Small Trips
Some people are of the school of thought that if you have been in an accident, you should get straight back on the road and take a long drive. Conquering big roads and stressful situations as soon as you can. But, if you are feeling very anxious and scared, the idea of going on a big drive can just make things worse. You might find yourself making excuses and putting it off as your worries mount.
So, if it makes you feel more comfortable, stick to short drives that you feel confident with. Do your usual commute, or drive to a shop that you’ve driven to hundreds of times before. Stick to roads that you know and drives that you know like the back of your hand. Build up to bigger things slowly, as your confidence grows.
Take a Friend
Again, people cope with nerves differently. Some people, when nervous, prefer to be alone. If that’s you, go for it. Get in your car and go out for a short drive on your own. It can be a significant confidence boost.
But, so can driving with someone else. If you feel like you need someone by your side for that first trip, ask a trusted friend or family member to sit with you. But, try to drive alone again as soon as you are able.
Go Back to the Site of the Accident
It can be tempting to avoid the site of the accident for as long as you can. You might find yourself taking detours and alternative routes. Adding minutes, or even longer to every drive, just to avoid the site of your crash. But, the longer you do this, the harder it will be and the more anxious you will get. Instead, head back within your first few drives.
Book Some Refresher Lessons
If you are feeling very nervous, and you’ve started to consider never getting back on the road again, you might want to book some lessons to help boost your confidence and prepare you for driving alone.