Tough Stuff

Dealing with driving anxiety? Here's how to feel good about hitting the road

Some of us were just sooo excited to get out on the road when we could finally start learning how to drive. But, there are also those of us who took our time...because tbh, driving is a little intimidating! Okay, a lot intimidating. Srsly, sometimes it feels like you can't ever relax with those sweaty hands, fast heartbeats and tense shoulders. But, DW—here are some calming tips to keep in mind when dealing with your driving anxiety. 

Practice on familiar routes

When you're just starting out, familiarize yourself with a certain route around your neighborhood, the way to the grocery store or your school. This way, you can just focus on your driving instead of worrying about directions at the same time! Plus, this is a great way to start making a mental map of places you'll probably be driving to often.


It's no secret that we all sometimes forget to breathe when we're too focused on mastering something. Before you start driving, you can try the 4-7-8 breathing method: count to four as you inhale, hold your breath for seven seconds and exhale for eight seconds. Repeat a couple more times until you feel ready to brave the roads! If you happen to encounter a serious driving anxiety attack, immediately pull over and let your driving instructor or whoever is accompanying you know. 

Listen to calming music

Dw, your day will come when you feel comfortable singing along to your favorite songs during a drive. But for now, try putting on some relaxing music that won't distract you from your surroundings and directions. Remember to set it at a safe volume so you can hear sensors (if your car has them) when you're too close to something!

Know the rules of the road

First things first, you absolutely *need* to make sure you're a pro when it comes to the rules of the road in order to be a safe driver. Familiarize yourself with your state's driver's manual and make sure to follow the laws (that includes waiting till you get your permit to drive!). Once you know what you're doing, you won't have as much to worry about and will be better equipped to handle anything that other drivers could throw your way. 

Start small 

It can be *super* tempting to rush into driving to Starbies right away when you first get your permit—even if you have to take a highway to get there. But tbh, rushing into more complicated drives isn't the best idea sometimes. It's super important to start small (think: a few loops around your neighborhood) and work your way up to the bigger stuff. 

Go with someone you trust 

Let's be real: going driving with that one member of your fam who expresses subtle road rage or has a lack of patience isn't the person we'd recommend learning from. Driving is all about the three C's: staying calm, cool and collected, which is why you need a person who can help you keep your cool on the road! Whether it's an older sib or your mom, find someone who you *know* you can trust to help keep you cool as a cucumber while driving.

What's your fave tip? Tell us on Twitter @girlslifemag

But wait! There's more! Check out these other driving-related posts: 
🚗 Road rules: here's everything you need to know about driving 
🚗 The top 5 coolest accessories for your first car
🚗 "I failed my driving test. Here's what I wish I knew."

Slider image: @cheridan.taylor
All GIFs via GIPHY


by Anne Chen and Eva Mandelbaum | 8/8/2023