Driving is a nerve-wracking activity for most everyone but can be even more so for those drivers with a disability. This could be from not knowing where you are going, to possibly not having the correct equipment needed for a successful driving experience. Many people become less stressed behind the wheel with experience and practice, but others constantly struggle with the task of driving no matter how often they do it. Ensuring you have the proper equipment you need as well as the confidence to get behind the wheel is crucial for your success. You will be sure to notice the way you feel when driving when you have the right tools.
Thankfully, there are things you can do to ensure that you are doing everything in your power to create a safe driving environment. Following these tips below will help you feel confident behind the wheel and ready to drive to any location.
Most people are more comfortable with things they know, including driving routes. Learning your route well will help to alleviate feelings of stress and anxiety as you have an idea of where you are going before you leave. Researching your route will also give you an estimate of how long it will take you to get to your destination and will allow you to properly prepare for your drive for you to arrive when you need to. Doing this can make you feel at ease as you have done everything in your power to research your location to be best prepared. This is especially helpful for those longer drives, as you should scope out places to stop in case you need a break to stretch your legs. When you know the route like the back of your hand, it will ease some of the tension you feel so you can relax and enjoy some tunes on the road.
Getting enough rest is crucial when it comes to driving. A car is a large piece of power equipment that can be dangerous when the driver is not in the right state of mind, whether it be from exhaustion or other factors. When you feel tired behind the wheel, your mind is not as sharp as it could be. This can cause reaction times to lag, making it easy to miss important traffic signals that could result in an accident. Make sure to get enough sleep before driving or engage in relaxing activities such as meditating or yoga to center yourself and feel calm enough to get to your location safely. Doing this will help ground you and make you feel relaxed and ready to navigate the road with other drivers. It will also cause less frustration from factors outside your control, such as a traffic jam or rush hour traffic, as you will have been well rested before your trip.
Driving at night is more difficult for most everyone. It is dark and can make seeing things such as signs and roads hard to pinpoint. In addition to this, if you are driving in the country, you need to be vigilant about deer jumping out in front of you, as well as falling asleep behind the wheel from fatigue. When you are unsure of where you are going, this can be even more stress inducing as turns can easily be missed and you are worried about taking wrong turns. If possible, it is best to avoid driving at night when it is dark as it is much harder to see clearly. When taking long drives and nighttime driving cannot be avoiding, taking stops to stretch your legs or a cat nap will help get you through the journey. Taking frequent breaks will help you to shake off the tiredness you may begin to feel from staring at the road as well as get your blood pumping to keep you energized to finish the journey.
It is always better to be early than to be late. If you have never gone to a certain location before, adequate time should be set aside to make it to the destination. It is all too easy to become flustered and frustrated, especially if you are in a hurry. Plenty of obstacles can come up between you and your destination such as road closures, car accidents, wrong turns and more, causing even more panic if you are running late. If you give yourself extra time to get to your destination, you will be able to navigate any problems that arise to ensure you are making it to where you need to be at the correct time. One of the biggest causes of road rage is being in a rush and needing to get somewhere, and seemingly getting stuck behind a bunch of “slow” drivers. You will automatically feel much more calm knowing that you do not have to rush to where you are going and can enjoy the drive.
Left side hand bar control (hand-operated device) to allow a disabled person to drive an automatic car without using their feet By Mariordo Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0
Everyone has a preference on how they like to have their car styled and tailored to their needs. Your car should have modifications that you need to make driving as comfortable and easy as possible. This could be anything from an extra mirror to pedal extenders, anything to make your driving experience as safe as possible. Having a disability should not deter someone from driving as there are a plethora of modifications that can be done to a car to allow comfortable driving. Before taking a drive with your personalized modifications, make sure to learn your new space and become comfortable before taking to the open road. This will help you become comfortable with your surroundings and familiar with the location of everything so you will be able to efficiently react to any situation at a moment’s notice. When you are in sync with your driving space, it will help you feel more comfortable taking on driving, no matter the distance.
When adding modifications to a car, there are driving lessons available through some driving schools that can help you navigate how to drive with these new adaptations. This can help alleviate anxiety as you have someone in the car with you well versed in these modifications that can guide you through using them. They are trained to assist you and will make sure you are comfortable with driving and be able to answer any questions and teach you how to use your modifications to the most of their potential. These lessons may help to boost your confidence and provide reassurance that they will help your personalized driving experience. To learn more about these lessons, call your local driving school for more localized information.
The cost of modifying a car will solely depend on what the modifications are. An added mirror could be as little as $50, while vehicles with ramps and raised ceilings could be $20,000-$80,000. On the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website, there is a PDF file that can be accessed that has additional information on pricing of modifications for vehicles. There are vehicles that can accommodate drivers staying in their wheelchair while driving. There are also vehicles that have the capability of that can fit wheelchairs folded up to store and transport. Whatever you need to make your car tailored to your personal needs should be available. Some modifications will need to be approved through the states DMVs, and some of these include wheelchair lifts, raised ceilings and special floor mounts.
Relaxation and concentration are crucial when operating a car as it is a big piece of equipment that can easily cause devastation. It may bring feelings of anxiety to drive with a disability, but this does not have to limit driving capabilities. Modifications were specifically designed to help those maintain independence and optimize the individuals needs for the best driving experience. They increase capability and confidence in the drivers by accommodating their specific needs. These tips listed are meant to help reduce frustration and anxiety around driving a vehicle as they will help you to feel your best as well as increase your confidence. When following these recommendations, you will be comfortable driving to any destination in no time.