Ages and ages ago I wrote out a few simple driving tips for myself and people who (like me) are maybe not super comfortable driving. I then proceeded to not post or share it anywhere. Well, largely due to… ::gestures at everything:: … I’ve barely driven at all in over a year. What little comfort I had with driving is now long gone, which means I’m going back and reviewing those old tips. So I figured I might as well post them here as well.
- Keep as many things as possible “always” or “never.”
When I was growing up, my dad had this fairly complicated set of personal rules he used for whether or not he was going to use his turn signal, that even he couldn’t keep up with. I’d write it out to share, but seriously, it was a lot. Having that complicated ruleset was, I think, was not actually good.
There is a lot of multitasking in driving, and part of being autistic for me is that I am bad at multitasking. So I reduce what I need to think about by simplifying what I can. If I’m turning, I ALWAYS use my turn signal. Even if I’m in a parking lot, even if I’m turning into my driveway on my tiny little road and no one else is around. Always use it, so that I don’t have to process whether or not to use it, which would be far more complicated for me and take much longer.
Of course, that one is obvious, because you’re supposed to always use your turn signal anyway. Some others I have are
- Never pass someone who is driving in front of me
- I am never in a hurry
- Always drive with my right foot (another legal one, but I’ve seen people break it).
2. Stick to a routine as much as you can.
I need routines. I also like routines. What other people call ruts, I call comfort. But really, sticking with a routine helps keep me stable and functional. It’s a thing.
I keep my driving in a routine as much as I can too. Which, in my case, mostly means doing the grocery shopping on wednesdays. I do my driving on the same days, at roughly the same times, for the same tasks, going to the same place, every single time.
3. If you have to break the routine, plan ahead as much as possible.
Some people do impromptu stuff. Some people like being spontaneous and just… going places. I am not one of those people. If I am going to have to do something that is not part of my weekly routine, such as taking my cat to the vet, I try to plan it out as much as possible. Yeah, I’ll be driving outside of my routine, but I’ll know it’s coming, I know the route, and I’m not surprised by it.
4. Find routes you are comfortable with.
There’s still a lot about driving that really stress me out. Things like highways and merging. One thing that is a huge deal to me is planning out my route to be as comfortable as possible. Again with grocery shopping – there were two routes to the grocery store that I could take. I was fully capable of driving either of them (and had done so, when I had to), but I was much MUCH more comfortable with one of them than the other. So that is the one I made sure to learn as well as possible, and is the one I used.
5. Keep extra spoons in your pocket – and be prepared to use them.
Sometimes a road will be closed. Maybe a tree fell right across the road and now you can’t go. Sometimes the store might turn out to be closed. Sometimes something will go wrong with your car. The point is – stuff goes wrong. Do your best to be prepared for contingencies, plan out possibilities as you think of them, and be ready for stuff to go wrong. Because once in a while, it will.