Getting behind the wheel for the first time is exciting, but it’s also scary. Controlling a vehicle properly is something that takes practice, and one mistake could leave you injured with thousands of pounds in repairs. That’s enough to terrify any new drivers!

It’s true that there are a lot of skills that must be mastered in order to learn how to drive, but confidence is equally as important. When you’re confident behind the wheel, you’ll make smarter choices. Not to mention, you won’t panic every time you shut the door.

How do you get more confidence behind the wheel? Follow these tips!

Take online practice tests

Practice makes perfect, and when it comes to driving, it means knowing the rules of the road inside and out. You should know exactly what every road sign means, how to interact with traffic, and what to do in an emergency.

Reading a study manual is a good first step, but if you really want to make sure you know your stuff, you should take online practice tests.

ePermitTest is a great place to take online tests. Their tests include traffic rules exams, a permit test simulator, traffic signal quizzes, road sign tests, and more.

If you are able to ace multiple tests, it will make you feel much more confident on the road. When you approach a white line in the middle of the road or a yellow traffic sign, you’ll know exactly what it means.

Practice with a trusted adult

Memorising traffic rules and signs can only get you so far. Even a student who has all the basics memorised is likely to make mistakes if they have never been behind the wheel before!

The more you practice driving, the better you’ll be. However, it is important to be mindful of who you drive with.

Driving with any adult in the passenger’s seat is better than not getting practice at all, but you’ll do much better if you spend the majority of your time practising with a trusted adult. An adult who makes you feel comfortable and calm behind the wheel creates the kind of atmosphere where you can truly learn, and take risks, when the time comes.

Start practising where you are most comfortable

Most adults know better than to take a new driver on the interstate, but don’t be afraid to pipe up and suggest areas where you feel most comfortable.

A few examples, depending on your level of mastery, might include:

  • A large empty parking lot
  • An industrial park on the weekend
  • The area around your neighbourhood

Only after you feel confident in one area should you go outside your comfort zone and try something new. If your adult passenger suggests driving in an area you aren’t quite ready for, ask to practice it after mastering another area. For example, ask if you can try a rural highway before attempting the interstate.

Drive in different conditions

Going for a joyride in the middle of the summer is much different than trying to make it home in a snow storm. Other people on the road drive differently, and you should drive differently too, depending on the road conditions. Make sure you’re prepared for it all by practising in as many different conditions as possible.

That includes the weather, but it also includes other kinds of conditions. It might mean practising driving through a construction zone, driving through rush hour traffic, and driving through the mountains, if you live near a mountain range.

Drive different vehicles

It’s relatively easy to get comfortable behind the wheel when you practice driving a single vehicle all the time. It’s a great way to get acquainted with the road and build self-esteem early-on, but vehicles come in all shapes and sizes.

You should practice behind the wheel of as many different vehicles as you can. Try driving a small two-door car and a minivan to feel the difference. And of course, every student should learn to drive manual!

It is also a great way to learn all that other stuff you should do before you hit the road that is easily forgotten when you get used to driving the same vehicle. Driving a new car forces you to check the rear-view mirrors, adjust your seat, and find the windshield wipers.

Don’t let a lack of confidence keep you from enjoying the independence that comes with learning how to drive. Follow these tips and you’ll feel cool as a cucumber every time you sit behind the wheel.