There is nothing wrong with feeling a little nervous when driving. You are controlling a machine that weighs several thousand pounds and traveling at a considerable rate of speed. Feeling nervous is a natural and understandable reaction to the circumstance. Yet some drivers are anxious to the point that their driving ability becomes compromised. Some even experience nervous breakdowns that only serve to further endanger themselves, their vehicle occupants and other drivers on the road. Let’s take a look at a few ways to prevent driving anxiety from ruining the driving experience.

1. Turn off the Radio and Smartphone

If you are scared of driving, eliminate as many distractions as possible. Do not listen to loud music or talk radio when behind the wheel. Turn off your phone and put it in the glove compartment or other vehicle storage space so you aren’t tempted to turn it on. If you are transporting other people, let them know that you are a bit uneasy behind the wheel and would prefer silence as opposed to an in-depth conversation during your voyage. Once these distractions are eliminated, you will feel significantly less nervous.

2. Stick to a Pre-Planned Route

Driving along the same roads each day makes the driving experience that much less nerve-wracking. Familiar terrain is less imposing than unfamiliar terrain. Adhere to your pre-planned route and you won’t have to worry about getting lost and looking out for street signs. If you are traveling to a new destination, do not rely on the directions from a single source. Check out multiple driving resources (Mapquest, Google Maps etc.) to ensure that you have accurate directions. You will feel much less anxious about your driving expedition if you are completely certain that you have identified the proper travel route before starting the ignition.

3. Another set of Eyes can Ease Your Nerves

Do not hesitate to ask a friend or family member to accompany you on your drive to a new destination. Let them know that you feel nervous about the prospect of driving through unfamiliar environments. By acknowledging your anxiety in front of others, you are letting them know that you would greatly appreciate their assistance. This way, they won’t be inclined to start up conversations while you are trying to focus on the road’s challenges. Also, ask your passenger to serve as your navigator so you don’t have to glance down at your directions throughout the road trip. Your travel mate will also help identify road obstructions, wayward vehicles and other potential problems.

4. Avoid Caffeine

The average person chugs a couple of cups of coffee each morning. Some even drink coffee midday and after dinner. Do not lose sight of the fact that beverages with caffeine will put you on edge. Replace caffeinated beverages with water, decaf coffee or other drinks that do not contain caffeine and you will feel much less nervous on the road.

5. Maintain a Narrow Focus

Focus on one driving challenge at a time. For example, if you are particularly concerned about an upcoming portion of your commute that will place you in the thick of a crowded highway, don’t dwell on it. Start out by focusing on backing out of your driveway. Then shift your focus to navigating the local roads. Once you have made it to the highway, your thoughts can turn to maintaining the proper amount of space between your vehicle and the one ahead of you, selecting the proper lane and traveling at a legally acceptable rate of speed. By focusing on one thing at a time, you won’t feel nearly as stressed about looming driving challenges.