Are you nervous about driving in the centre of a large city? You would be surprised to know how many drivers are afraid of or nervous about driving in the city. Rather than being nervous about your own safety, you may be worried about all the things you have to take into account in a city environment.
At least for the first time, you may be terrified of the many lanes, big busses, trams, traffic jams and large numbers of cyclists and pedestrians in such cities as Helsinki. There is a great number of signposts, traffic signs and pedestrian crossings – and you should spot them all in time. Local drivers, who are oozing confidence, may add to your feelings of insecurity.
Traffic intensifies emotions
A more common emotion than actual fear is feeling nervous about finding your own skills inadequate and ending up in a situation you find embarrassing. You worry about what might happen if you get stuck in the middle of a junction or stall the car in traffic lights.
A study revealed that young men regard pulling away from traffic lights as some kind of a challenge, whereas mature female drivers take quite a different view of things. This indicates different motives for being on the road.
The more performance-centred you are and the higher demands you place on yourself, the more likely you are to expect error-free driving of yourself. This also makes you feel more embarrassed if something does go wrong.
All drivers make mistakes on the road sometimes, and in many cases, it brings their emotions to the surface. It is easy to feel embarrassed if you miss the light turning green and the drivers behind you blow their horns at you. When you move off, you cannot shake this emotion, and you tend to rev up the engine to get away from the uncomfortable situation. This may have a negative effect on your ability to observe other traffic. In reality, it is only a question of a few odd seconds, and your feelings of shame are often out of proportion to the seriousness of what happened.
Feeling nervous about driving in the city is understandable, as it is a challenging situation. You are steering a powerful machine, side by side with equally fast and strong vehicles. At the same time, you are expected to interpret dozens of different symbols and events within seconds. There are junctions with no traffic lights, pedestrians and cyclists, and you may have to navigate in the dark, in wet conditions and in an unfamiliar environment. No wonder this situation is stressful.
Tame the horrors of driving in the city – seven tips
Junctions have clear traffic lights, and the lane markings and signposts are well maintained. Due to speed limits and large numbers of cars, driving speeds are usually not high, reducing the risk of a serious accident.
If you have not been behind the wheel for a long while, driving feels more daunting. You should consider getting a few driving lessons. That way, you will have an expert sitting beside you to give you guidance – and to step on the brake if needed.
Come up with an easy driving task and, on the other hand, a worst-case scenario. Then progress systematically by every now and then going for a slightly more difficult drive than the last time, moving on to more challenging situations step by step.
If you find driving in the city difficult but cannot avoid it, plan your route carefully to avoid the most difficult sections. Even if this means that your journey takes a bit longer, you will have peace of mind knowing that you do not have to drive through the trickiest spots.
Consider if you could use public transport or postpone your journey when it is dark or raining, or when the conditions are otherwise poor.
Feeling slightly afraid is not always a bad thing, as it may improve your concentration on driving and observing other road users. Feeling too relaxed and relying on routines may have a negative effect on your alertness.
Remember that the traffic rules are the same in the hustle and bustle of the city as they are in the countryside. So get into the fray! You can only rid yourself of your nervousness by practising and getting more experience.