Photograph by the awesomesauce little sister Sara (Sara Writes)
"Did somebody say highway?"
The Abbie hides her face, ducks, and runs away from the scene - far far away. They call the highway the 'River of Steel' in an article online. How am I supposed to NOT fear something that has a name like that?
My relationship status with highways.
Driving the interstate highway has been a fear of mine since 7 years now. I started driving in 2012 and drove the highway only once to test the waters. That happened in 2012 and ever since I have been using in-roads to travel. Each time someone said something about an event that was in a far off city, I would duck and hide. My GPS and Google Maps always stayed on 'Avoid Highways' mode and I would rather drive 45 minutes than to take a shorter route on the highway.
Why was I so terrified of the highway?
Well, nobody offered to help me fight my fear. Everyone else (mostly my passengers) were terrified of dying too! And, there were always the horror stories ...
I was freaked out not so much about the high speed but the quick decision making I was supposed to execute while driving at 55 miles per hour at the very least. It always seemed to be like being pressured to answer a multiple choice question while riding a rollercoaster. And someone said, "You take a wrong exit and you end up in a wrong city!" and it sounded like ending up in a different dimension from sci-fi movies.
Seven Years Later...
It is typical with me. When fear increases beyond tolerance, I turn a deaf ear to it, give it a blind eye, and refuse to let it take over me. And then I grab the bull by its horns! And so, I did. I requested my ultra busy younger brother for training sessions because the whole 'she can't drive the highway' thing was getting on my nerves. It was one of those daring steps where I pushed myself out of the comfort zone ... comfort zone??? ... out of my mind ... to kill that little fear bug in my head. I admit that my heart was pounding very loud, my palms were sweaty on my Nightmare Before Christmas steering wheel cover, and I was very fidgety.
I had had a hearty breakfast in prep for this
insane day. With a pounding heart, words of
safety and protection and ease of affairs
in constant recitation, sweaty palms, and
the Waze App and my highly important
VVIP brother dictating the way ... I picked
up speed and drove out onto the biggest
interstate highway of Maryland that goes
all the way to Virginia and beyond.
Tips For Scaredy Cat Highway Rookies
- Ignore your fear (tough!)
- Pick a less rush day, and a less rush hour (I chose 9:30am)
- Have a hearty breakfast! You'd need it.
- Don't drink too much fluids, (no tea coffee!) - stress already causes adrenaline rush and you'd need to use the loo!
- Know from my experience that it is no big deal! It's an overrated fear hype!
- Use a magnetic holder to prop up your smartphone in convenient sight. I had mine set on my AC vent (courtesy my brother).
- Install Waze App because it shows you the shortest, best traffic route for your destination and keeps talking to you throughout your journey. It even tells you if there is a police vehicle nearby or a vehicle parked in shoulder ahead.
- Pick up steady speed on the entry ramp, and enter the highway when a vehicle seems slightly far and you can make a move. Do this by using your side mirror.
- Stay in the right most lane for starters and change one lane to the left because the right most lane drivers will have to yield to vehicles entering and leaving the highway.
- Always drive the speed limit! Do not bother about vehicles passing by or overtaking, maintain speed and control.
- Listen to Waze and keep a check on the Exit numbers written on the highway sign boards.
- Don't fear if you take a wrong exit. You will not end up in a different dimension. It will still be the same state of the United States of America. Waze will continue guiding you.
- Believe in yourself.
- Don't train with people who bring your morale down. The trainer should be patient.