If you haven’t driven for a while - whether it’s weeks, months or years - it can take some time to regain your confidence behind the wheel.  

But fear not; you’ll quickly get the hang of it again. You may just need to ease yourself back into driving.  

Here are some tips if you’re returning to the driving seat after a break.

Mug up on theory

If it’s been a long time since you did any driving, then be sure to catch up on any changes to the rules. 

Some rules change every year, from new MOTs and smart motorways to clean air zones

So, try and get yourself up to date with the latest driving rules before you head back out onto the roads. You could even invest in a copy of the DVSA Guide to Better Driving book.

Make sure your car is ready for the road

Ensure your car is in good condition before you head off, especially if it has been a while since you last drove it. This will not only help you feel more confident behind the wheel, but also help keep you and other road users safe. 

Simple, but essential car checks range from making sure your tyres are inflated to the right pressure, to topping up on windscreen wash. 

Don’t forget the paperwork as well. Make sure you are suitably insured, your car is taxed and has a valid MOT, and your driving licence details are up to date.

Get some practice

If the prospect of heading back onto the roads makes you feel uncomfortable, then why not spend some time re-acquainting yourself with the basics? You can do that by finding a quiet place to practise manoeuvres such as parallel parking.

Plan for an easy journey

When you feel ready to properly take to the roads, then make life as easy as possible for yourself.

Plan your route - that may mean poring over a map, or simply imagining yourself navigating a well-trodden local route to the shops. If you don't feel ready for dual carriageways, roundabouts or motorways yet, then choose a route that avoids them. If you have no choice but to take a longer journey, then plan in regular stops so you have time to rest. 

Rushing is likely to add to your stress, so, if possible, allow a little extra time to deal with any hold-ups.

Also, if you can, avoid driving in the dark, in bad weather or at rush hour until you feel more confident.

Come on board, it's easy

We work hard to make car insurance easy. Easy to get a quote. Easy to make a claim.

Concentrate on your driving

It may sound obvious, but it can really help to try and clear your mind before starting the engine. Safe Driving for Life, an information resource produced in partnership with the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), recommends taking deep breaths and telling yourself that concentrating on your driving comes above everything else.

Then, once you are driving, focus on the road and other road users around you. 

Don’t let other drivers pressure you

Don’t be pressured into driving faster than you feel happy with. Simply ignore drivers who drive too closely behind to make you go faster.

Meanwhile, consider others; they could well feel the same as you. If you’re courteous and give people space, you’ll be calmer and less likely to make poor decisions. 

Refamiliarise yourself with your car

Take the time to put your seat and mirrors in the proper positions, get reacquainted with important controls like the lights and wipers, and check the dashboard for potential issues like warning lights or low petrol.

Remove any rubbish from your car, especially if it’s going to get in your way or move around noisily while you drive. 

Drive defensively

Defensive driving is the name given to a series of simple driving techniques that reduce your risk of being involved in an accident. It can help all drivers, including those feeling a little out of practice. Techniques include:

  • Keeping a healthy distance between your car and the vehicle in front, giving you plenty of time to react.
  • Reducing your speed if the weather is bad, giving you better control of your car.
  • Looking ahead and anticipating hazards further up the road, such as merging lanes or a broken down car.
  • Regularly checking your mirrors to watch for vehicles approaching from behind.

Avoid distractions 

The last thing you want if you lack confidence behind the wheel is to face a barrage of distractions. Distractions can cause drivers to make mistakes and potentially lead to accidents.

So, turn off your mobile, avoid fiddling with the radio and give the road your full attention.

If a passenger is being loud, tell them it’s distracting and preventing you from concentrating.

Relax and take your time

If you’re not in the right frame of mind to drive, then consider an alternative, such as walking or cycling. You can always try again when you’re feeling more relaxed.

If you pace yourself, prepare and practise, then you’re likely to get the hang of things again soon.

Come on board, it's easy

We work hard to make car insurance easy. Easy to get a quote. Easy to make a claim.

To find out more about staying safe on the roads, go to Solved.