Whether you are a new driver getting used to the road, or an experienced driver just dealing with the normal challenges of commuting, driving can be a daunting task. However, if you prepare in advance, you can have a relaxing drive.
Overcoming certain fears on the road can be equated to passing an exam. Some of the common fears include overtaking, driving besides trucks/trailers, driving Sport Utility Vehicles (SUV) or Prados after a long time of driving saloon cars such as Toyota Mark IIs and Premios, among others.
Fear of driving down the hill
When Anita Ampaire was learning to drive in 2017, she recalls being tasked by her father and instructor to drive downhill. In her capability, she could only manage driving up the hill.
“When my father assured me that he would guide me, I sat tight in the driver’s seat. I was imagining the car brakes failing and I find myself in the valley. It was only when I drove downhill a number of times that I eventually got over the fear,” Ampaire recalls.
Overtaking other vehicles
While practice led to perfection for Ampaire, for Daniel Kasirye, his main fear was overtaking commercial trucks and later on other saloon and sports utility vehicles. Overtaking is something that took Kasirye some time to practice and eventually master. What Kasirye feared most was the length of trucks. “I went on the road the first time after driving school in company of a friend, a co-driver. My fear lay in the fact that the vehicles I would overtake appeared as though they were being driven on the same speed as I drove. This held me back and I would eventually give in and could not overtake,” Kasirye says. “When I learnt that you have to slightly increase the speed when you are overtaking, I began to gain confidence to overtake,” he adds.
Adjusting to big cars
When you have been driving a saloon car such as a Toyota Premio and you decide to upgrade to a Toyota Prado TX, which is raised, driving can be challenging in the initial stages.
David Odong who recently upgraded from a Toyota Raum to a Toyota Harrier in 2018 advises that when you start driving a car with a big body, you have to shift your mind as well.
“When you drive a big bodied car, you need to have it in mind that you need more space when turning and reversing. You cannot use the same turning space as the one you need when you are driving a Toyota Raum that is short and small. It is how I was able to adjust to driving a Harrier,” Odong says.
Joining the road
Like road crossing, joining the road can be one of the biggest fears to overcome as a motorist. As you hold the steering wheel tightly to join the road, what holds back some motorists is the speed of other motorists either on the opposite side of the road or those on the same side from where you are joining.
“When I was learning to join the road, I would try it out on a Sunday when there are few cars on the road. I practiced for some time and before I knew it, I had started joining the road on busy days. It is all about communicating with other motorists by using flash lights and indicators so that they slow down to create you space to join,” says Diana Nayebare, a motorist.
Driving at roundabouts/ turning
If you do not concentrate while driving around a roundabout and negotiating a corner, one or two of the car tyres can end up on the roundabout or rubbing the car body against the road shoulders or rail guard. Nayebare advises that it is all about practice without allowing room for any distraction such as noise from passengers in your car and phones.
Like joining the road, she recommends practice, especially on days when there is no heavy traffic on the road and in company of an experienced person. That way, you start to gain some confidence that you can do it on your own.
How to stay calm
Prepare your vehicle
Before driving, give your car a quick check to make sure everything is in working order. For example, check that your tyres are in good condition and look out for any signs of damage or excessive wear.
Plan your journey
It helps to plan your journey before you leave so that you can avoid heavy traffic or unexpected diversions. If you are feeling apprehensive, it is a good idea to choose routes that you are familiar with and that are less challenging.
Have the necessary documents such as driving permit. Panic usually comes after seeing a traffic officer. A new driver without documents can even cause an accident.
Practice good driving habits
Always remember to check your blind spots and mirrors, signal with plenty of time, and drive within the speed limit. Practicing safe driving can help you to remain calm and stay in control of your vehicle, which in turn will make you feel more at ease.