Brush Up on These 5 Forgotten Driving Skills

Posted November 26, 2021 by in Lifestyle

Ready or not, for most of us, the enforced pandemic quarantine is over. As the world goes back to its new normal, the roads are filling up again. What we weren’t prepared for, though, was the realization that as our cars sat parked for so long, we forgot how to drive.

If you’ve noticed that the things you used to do without thinking aren’t as easy anymore, you’re not alone. The Washington Post even wrote an entire piece on the dangers of post-pandemic driving. 

It’s possible that you stopped driving for other reasons, too. Maybe it didn’t make sense to have a car while you lived in the big city, but now you need one. Or you haven’t driven because you were gone for a few months.

Regardless, we’re all in the same boat … ahem, car. So it’s okay to admit that you could benefit from a quick “crash course” refresher. 

Before you get behind the wheel again, you should brush up on some possibly forgotten skills like these:

1. Pretend You Have a New Car

Remember when you first bought your car? You had to find all the parts, adjust the mirrors, and read the important parts of the owner’s manual.

Go ahead and do all of those steps again. The last time you drove regularly, you had muscle memory guiding you. Those movements are still there, but they’ll need some practice to come back out of hiding.

Instead of trying to remember where your wipers are while you’re on the road, go through all the controls before driving. Remind your brain where the lights and indicators are, how to turn on the wipers, and where the gears are located.

Then, fix your seat and mirrors. How you sat before might not be the same as where you’re comfortable now.

2. Take a Scenic Short Trip

The first time you get back on the road shouldn’t be when you’re on a time crunch or to someplace new.

You want to be able to pay attention to your driving skills, not have to worry about traffic or unknown roads. When you know you’re going to have to be somewhere in a day or two, take a short road trip while you have time.

Have you been enjoying getting everything delivered to your doorstep? Head to the store and get some groceries in person. Or go to your favorite pre-COVID haunts and get reacquainted with them.

Wherever you go, make sure it’s someplace you’re comfortable with driving to, and you’re not pressed for time. If you still don’t feel confident after this trip, go to a few other places, too. The more you drive, the quicker that muscle memory will come back!

3. Pretend Like You’re a New Driver

As new drivers, we’re extremely attentive to the road and everything around us. Get back into that mindset for a little while. It’s truly a good thing to err on the side of caution.

Changing lanes, checking for oncoming traffic, watching for pedestrians … The list of things to be aware of goes on and on. Over time, these skills become old-hat. We don’t even think about them; we just do them subconsciously.

4. Actively Get Observant Again

For a while, you’re going to have to retrain your brain to improve its powers of observation. Get rid of as many distractions as you can, and make a conscious effort to be extra diligent.

That means doing things like checking your mirrors at regular intervals. Don’t play with the radio, and turn your phone off to avoid the temptation to check new messages.

Go slow, and stay in the right lane. Other drivers may not have had the same pandemic restrictions as you. They’re confidently on the offensive, and you are going to be doing some defensive driving for a while. 

You don’t want to be the reason for an accident because you were trying to keep up with other cars. Go at your own pace, and do what it takes to regain your confidence behind the wheel.

5. Practice, Practice, and Practice Some More

In order to get your driver’s license, you had to pass lots of safety steps. From the written exam to practicing with a licensed driver, it took time to earn this privilege.

Depending on how long you stayed inside and skipped out on driving, you may have to log some practice hours again. Volunteer to run quick errands, take a trip to the library, or find other ways to practice on quiet roads.

Don’t try to get on the highway if you haven’t driven in a while. You’ll be a danger to yourself and others.

Your time off from driving could’ve been pandemic-driven, or it may have been for other reasons. The why doesn’t matter; the result is the same. You need to regain your confidence in yourself and your familiarity with your car.

Brush up on these five forgotten skills before you start driving places again. You’ll be glad you did!

*Photos by cottonbro