Sunday, November 18, 2012

Feeling better after a week of driving

I have done my daily commute by car three times last week. The route to work is longer than the one back home because I have to bring my son to kinder garden first, driving to the school adds about 5 km more to the total distance. It is 23 km on the way to work and 18 km to drive back home.

Most of the route has a 80 km/h speed limit, with some small parts of 100 km/h, and the journey from home to my son's school is all on low speeds, around 40 km/h in average, some parts 50, and 30, round abounds, pedestrian crossings, left turns and several traffic lights. But the sun is already up, so the light is much better. I also love that I get to start my day slowly and have breakfast with my son at home before going to work.

The journey back is quite dark already, mostly 80 km/h and 100 km/h speed limits, I get to switch lanes several times, it could be more challenging than the one from home to work because I have not really driven it many times, so I have to pay attention to the lanes I should be in while exiting and entering roads. Normal highway driving stuff like keeping the speed constant, looking far ahead, anticipating, and overall being careful when overtaking and switching lanes.

I think I started to feel more at ease while driving, still nervous before getting into the car but it feels better once I hit the road. I have used my training watch to monitor my heart rate and speed while driving, I only check the graphs and data afterwards though. I usually put on my heart rate belt, and start the training on my watch while I am still at home getting my son ready to go, the heart rate peaks tend to be during that time and when I stop at my son's school, so basically when I am physically moving. But some interesting peaks while driving too.

Day 1
  • avg. heart rate, driving to work: 130 bpm (super high, I was nervous, more at the beginning but still my heart rate did not come down that much during my driving)
  • avg. heart rate, driving back home: 122 bpm. (I had the parking incident, slight scratch on my bumper, peaks were recorded before I started driving back..!)
Day 2.
  • avg heart rate driving to work: 121 bpm (10 bpm less!) great improvement
  • I did not record it while driving back home
Day 3.
  • Morning journey to work: 118 bpm
  • avg. heart rate driving back home: 104 bpm. I think this reflect more my heart while driving, the extra 10 bpm on the journey to work could be explained by the peaks observed while not driving but walking and hurrying at home

For reference, my average heart rate while walking is around 123 bmp and while runnning around 165 bpm with peaks of 184. Maximum heart rate is about 197 bpm

Highlights of the week

Encountered a slow moving vehicle on a high speed road. I encountered a slow moving vehicle going on 50 km/h on a 80 km/h road. Those cars are not allowed on 80 km/h roads but somebody decided to drive it there nevertheless. I saw it after a car slowed down to take an exit, and there it was in front of me, I slowed down, brake slowly and switched gears back. I checked my possibilities for overtaking it as soon as I saw it, but it was too risky. I think I did the right moves, I was not nervous and felt in control of the situation, the slow car took the next exit after about 200 meters and I continue my journey to work safely

Road directions signs. Before I started driving solo I practiced the route to work several times with my husband, but not the route back home at all. Therefore I feel a bit apprehensive of it because besides going on high speeds I must look at the road directions signs at high speed in night driving and take decisions on changing lanes, exiting roads and merging back. On the last stretch of the route there is two ways the road directions sings redirect traffic,and I took a difficult one, one merging with heavy traffic and being redirected back to another lane and then back to the exit I should be taking. In summary not nice, it happened the second day while driving back home, I did it but I did not feel particularly at ease. Check the space, observed my blind spot and switched lanes, merged or exited, several times on a 3.5 km road stretch but I would not do it again, I feel I need more practice. I know which lane to take for a peaceful journey home now

Overtaking maneuvers. See above on a need more practice part. I decided to overtake because the car in front of me was going to slow. I do not mind the speed but I mind that many cars start to accumulate to close to me, I prefer when I have space to maneuver, so I saw the space and moved to the left, speed-ed up and started to look on my mirrors to see when it was safe to move back to the right that I did not see the road was bending so I had to do a quick movement to steer back, then I changed lanes to the right. I feel I need to get more practice, quick movements are not safe if the pavement is slippery, it was not, but I should be more careful next time.


  1. Hi my name is Essence and I came across your thread on Fear of Driving and I looked up your blog on the internet. I'm very inspired by your journey, I myself don't drive at all. I've had the fear and anxiety of driving all probably due to the lack of confidence. Your journey definitely inspires me and motivates me to get out there and go for it. =) My username is Cali1989 on the Fear of Driving Forum.

  2. Hi my name is Essence and I came across your thread on You mentioned you had a blog, so I looked it up on the internet. I myself have struggled with driving for way too long. You've definitely inspired and motivated me to get out there and do it. I've had a fear and anxiety of driving for so long and I think it's because I never had confidence in myself. Your journey is inspirational and I feel if you can do it why can't I. My username on is: Cali1989

  3. Great Essence!, I think it is more common than you think to feel a bit nervous when starting to drive. I do not experience anything severe myself, like sweating or shaking legs or hands, just my heart rate increases a bit, but, as I have posted, it has decreased a lot compared to the first time I tried, and only within a week. I am sure I will do just fine, and as you reassured yourself so you will as well. Good luck!

  4. Thank you! I know that once I get out there and just do it, and practice, I know I can succeed.