People I meet, both here in Portugal and before, are often scared to drive in new cities. This has intrigued me for some time. What is that about, what is there really to be worried about?
Surely a part is about not knowing where you are or where you are going in a new environment. This makes it difficult to plan your driving meaning you either have to go really slow or continue in your normal pace but with your stomach in knots. And in either case with almost certainty ending up in the wrong place. You simply don’t know your way around the place. Not strange. The place is new.
But we have gps in cars and in phones and all over the places nowadays, right? So that should make the above a non issue? I mean, sure, it is not always easy to understand what the gps map or voice is trying to tell you, how soon or late it wants you to turn and such, but still, you actually have directions.
Then there is the mental not knowing where you are of course, you have a feeling of not knowing your way, of being lost. Which is probably really just our brains holding us back. We get nervous and afraid of failure and don’t allow ourselves to relax and just drive and rely on the gps and go where it says we should.
We are feeling so not at ease that we stop driving attentively.
Now there’s something. Attentive driving. What is that really, what does it mean? As in, what is that you are supposed to be attentive to?
Well, obviously, we are to be attentive to traffic signals and traffic rules. The EU has simplified that a lot. Nowadays at least the general aspects are the same in most places we go, so we recognize them and can answer to signals and rules. So that aspect should be ok. As drivers we should already have it in our spine to be attentive to these factors.
But presumably we are also to be attentive to other things. Things like other cars, cyclists, pedestrians, cats and dogs and small children running out into the streets, street signs and indication markers. So, if these things are out of the ordinary for us, unexpected, as in them not behaving, reacting or looking the way we are used to?
Then, driving attentively in a new city maybe isn’t just about the geographical aspect of finding the right way and knowing the traffic rules. Maybe it goes deeper and comes down to the fact that you don’t know how to actually be attentive because you are really navigating to fit into a new culture? A new driving culture.
And who wouldn’t be at least a bit worried about that? So maybe there’s no need to be scared about driving in new places, but a little nervousness may just bring that right attentive driving?