Is your fear of driving preventing you from taking your children to the park, the zoo, to play with their friends?
Is your fear of driving preventing you from going on shopping trips or to a sporting event?
Is your fear of driving preventing you from applying for a job that involves driving?
A phobia is a fear of an activity or situation that is irrational in relation to the danger of the thing that is feared. A fear of driving is an anxiety about dealing with other road users, feeling rushed by vehicles behind, dealing with complex junctions and roundabouts or driving at night. Symptoms include heart palpitations, difficulty breathing, intense sweating and wanting to escape the situation. These lead to avoidance, which makes the phobia worse.
It may help your fear if:
- You understand how your phobia happened. Phobias can be genetic and a parent can easily pass it on to their child. A driving phobia is quite likely to have happened because you have been involved in, or witnessed, an accident.
- You might have been yelled at when you were learning to drive.
- You were a victim of road rage
- You can’t stand it when there is a huge traffic jam.
- You had a dangerous and frightening journey, which although you didn’t have an accident caused you high anxiety e.g., driving through a snowfall or fog.
- You are frightened when you hear news stories about bad accidents.
Symptoms of your phobia are:
- Panic attacks with sweating, headaches, tingling lips, chest pains, heart palpitations, feeling sick, faint or dizzy.
- Not being able to sit in a car or maybe not even had the courage to learn to drive
- You may have the feeling that it’s not you doing the driving but someone else and you may have thoughts of swerving across the road into the path of another vehicle.
- You may brake a lot when it’s not necessary and this can happen in the middle of busy traffic.
- You plan driving trips to avoid tricky road situations, motorways or areas that are particularly busy.
For instance, Angela of Hertford says:
‘My fear of driving came from a few knocks I had and got so bad that I hated even being a passenger in a car. I’d hold on for dear life and couldn’t wait to get out. Living in London meant it didn’t have too big an effect on me as I could walk or get public transport everywhere however, when I moved to the suburbs with much less frequent travel links, it meant I had to plan out everything especially as I had young children. I had a lack of freedom as I was always dependent on whether it was within walking distance, on the right public transport link or that a kind soul would give me a lift!”
How do I get over my fear of driving?
- It’s a good idea to talk about your phobia because it is a key way of facing it and accepting that you need to do something about it.
- Accept that driving can be dangerous if done irresponsibly. So, learn to drive responsibly. Drive with care, always be alert and know your limitations. Never drink and drive and if you’re tired pull over and rest or wait until you’re not tired before driving.
- Learn relaxation techniques and use them before driving. If you notice yourself becoming tense – let go of the tension consciously. Without the tension, you’ll be a safer driver.
- If you suffer from panic attacks then learn how to cope with them.
- Some people find it a good idea to use commentary driving – relating what they are doing and seeing while driving.
You don’t have to suffer for the rest of your life because I can also help you get over your fear.
We aren’t born with our fears and phobias so if you have a fear of driving you have learnt it so it is possible to unlearn it too.