Article

Three key pieces of advice for motorists to boost confidence

Provided by Vicky Butler-Henderson, British racing driver and presenter of Fifth Gear, and NFU Mutual:

1. Take extra precautions in vehicle and journey preparation – plan your journey ahead of time, get the right insurance and breakdown cover to come in like the cavalry if you need it, familiarise yourself with the warning lights on your car and do all the proper checks.

    • Plan your journey ahead, you can set your sat nav or route to avoid motorways if these unnerve you and knowing roughly where you’re going will help ease nerves.
    • Having insurance and breakdown cover that you can trust will be there in a time of need can be very comforting – having their number written down in your vehicle along with your nearest and dearest will help ease fears about losing mobile reception in rural areas.
    • Carry basic essentials with you like a warm blanket, torch, ice scraper, first aid kit, food and drink, sunglasses for low sun. 
    • Doing the proper checks on your car will fill you with confidence you’re your vehicle is as safe as it can be - including tyre pressure and tread depth, windscreen wipers and wash, antifreeze, fuel, lights, brakes, oil and lights.  
    • Get to know your vehicle and what all the warning lights mean.

2. Increase your driving knowledge in different road conditions - ask someone to help you, do research on the internet or think about booking a driving refresher course to help you be more confident driving in the dark or in icy weather.    

      Driving in the dark is all about visibility:  
      • Try not to look at the headlights of oncoming vehicles as this can dazzle you, try to use the white lines in the road to navigate.
      • Keep windows clean to avoid glare and condensation.
      • Give yourself and other drivers more space to cope with lower visibility, and allow more time for your journey so you’re not under pressure.
      • Driving in ice and snow is about maintaining control of the vehicle: 
        • Stay in as high as gear as possible on slippery roads — alongside keeping your revs low, this reduces the chance of spinning your wheels and losing control.
        • Don't use cruise control — slippery surfaces such as ice and snow can cause your tyres to lose traction and spin, cruise control can make it harder to register and negotiate this happening. 
        • Be aware of specific conditions — even if you think a frost has thawed, areas such as roads under bridges are often the first to freeze and take longer to thaw. 

3. Be kind to yourself and invest in you  – remember that confidence isn’t something you can buy and it doesn’t happen overnight. The best drivers learn from their mistakes so don’t pressure yourself. Practice makes perfect so when we’re able to travel again, warm yourself up with a drive around a familiar area. Get your eyes tested and consider an advanced driving course.  

  • Once government restrictions say we’re able to travel again, try to get out and practice in areas you know well and feel comfortable in to build up your confidence. Practice makes perfect - take a friend or family member with you for support.
  • Don’t let other drivers intimidate you – focus on yourself and take your time (and vice versa, be kind to other drivers as we know from the research that most people get nervous at some point).
  • Learn from your mistakes – this is what makes people a good driver .
  • And don’t pressure yourself to take long journeys, wait until you’ve built up the confidence.