It’s always a thrill to pass your driving test, and one of the most exciting journeys you’ll ever make is the first road trip where you hold the keys! But with nearly a quarter of the UK living outside a major city, the first trip out of your own town or village is a big event in your driving life.
Whether you’re setting off on a big shopping trip or you’re one of thousands of new students leaving your hometown behind, taking your car for a spin in the city can be a nerve-wracking experience. No need for fear though — we’re here with our top tips for city centre driving to make the experience a lot smoother!
Scope out the trip
One of the most important things to do when driving in a city is planning your journey. You’re driving in a new and significantly busier place, so making sure you have a plan in place is crucial.
One of the best ways to do this is using a sat nav. This way, you give yourself a preview of the route you want to take and can be most comfortable when driving to and around the city. It’ll also give you a sneak-peek into how bad traffic will be in that area.
This is almost like a pre-emptive strike to calm the nerves because, for many, the scariest part of driving in a new place is a fear of the unknown!
Don’t let the nerves win
Combatting nerves links directly to another very important part of driving in a new place – staying calm. One of the hardest things when driving in a new, busier place is overcoming the anxiety comes with it.
This is understandable — driving can be a difficult skill to pick up at the best of times and being unfamiliar with the area ramps up the difficulty even more. Getting to the root of what is causing your anxiety is the best way to ensure your city centre driving is as good as closer to home.
Back yourself — you didn’t pass your test by accident!
Keep your cool
We all lose composure from time to time. And, as much as we all frown upon road ragers, driving in a new, busier area totally different from your hometown is a stressful experience and can become overwhelming.
The best thing to do to combat this is, again, to be ahead of the game and know that coming up against careless drivers and frustrating situations is out of your control. Going into these settings with an open and relaxed mind will help you stay calm.
Possibly even worse than being the road rager is being the one raged at. It’s a scary experience for even the most confident drivers, but it’s possible to avoid other peoples’ road rage. Just remember to avoid eye contact with the offender and lock the doors of your car if you feel unsafe.
Check city centre congestion charges
Something else to bear in mind—especially when driving in major UK cities—are congestion charges. These are fees that you’ll need to pay to drive in certain city centres on certain days/times. It’s crucial to do your research to avoid any nasty surprises.
If you’re nervous about driving in a city centre for the first time, the last thing you need is to find out you’re also being charged money that didn’t need to be spent!
Thankfully, many UK cities have facilities to help you avoid congestion charges. From parkway train stations, park & ride buses, to major tube stations with large car parks to leave your vehicle for the day — every city with congestion charges has options to avoid them if you’d rather save some dough.
However, there may be times you simply need to drive in the city centre. If this is the case, still check what times and days the charges are in action for and plan your journey accordingly. Preparation is key!
Practice makes perfect city centre driving
Of course, the best thing you can do to be prepared for these situations is the most obvious one. As the old joke goes: How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice.
Well, this is the same with driving in a big city. The more you practice this skill, the more it’ll become second nature.
If you’re looking to get some hours driving in with an expert before embarking on your adventure into the city, our instructors cover all of mainland Britain and would be more than happy to help you prepare for the big city.
Feeling ready to drive in the city?
To sum up, the best thing you can do when venturing into the big city is to stay calm and be prepared. Both the traffic and the roads can catch newly qualified drivers off guard which can lead to dangerous situations, which is why planning ahead is the most important thing you can do before making the transition from small sleep villages to the bright lights of the big city.
Take your time and don’t get distracted — there’s no reason why driving in the city can’t be a fun, confident-building experience.
If you’re not sure if this will be the case, it can be worth investing in some extra driving lessons or black box insurance to make sure you’re 100% safe when setting off on your metropolitan adventure.