How To Get Over Fear Of Driving?
Driving can stir up various emotions in individuals and unfortunately for some motorists, they can be anxious or fearful.
Whether it is a genuine phobia, a fear of failing the driving test, or hitting the roads again after an accident, there can be several reasons why people are scared of driving. If you planning to overcome the fear for driving, getting driving lessons would be the first step. There are different types of driving lessons such as manual and intensive driving lessons.
What is a fear of driving?
Fear of driving can be quite common in motorists and symptoms can range from mild to severe. For some people, the fear can be associated with specific situations, such as:
- Undergoing a loss of control
- Driving at high speeds
- Driving at night
- Learning to drive
- Driving alone
- Being stuck in a traffic jam
- Driving in harsh weather conditions
- Driving on unfamiliar roads
- Driving alongside huge/larger vehicles
But for other drivers, it can be a generalised fear of sitting behind the wheels. Moreover, driving fear may develop in certain individuals out of nowhere with no clear cause. Kevin Tuffney, the co-founder of rated driving, a driving school in the UK says, “Believe in yourself, take on your challenges, dig deep within yourself to conquer fears. Never let anyone bring you down. You got this.”
What Can Trigger a Fear of Driving?
Some of the most common causes of driving anxiety include –
Performance anxiety – It is the very nature of humans to feel the pressure of responsibility, especially when safety is involved. When you are driving, not only yours but the safety of your co-passengers is in our hands as well. This can make people doubt their own abilities of driving and ensuring safety for all.
Fear of travel – This is more of a specified phobia also known as `hodophobia’. The fear of travel includes motion through all forms of transportation and exploring new routes or places.
Past bad experience – If you have witnessed or been involved in a road accident in the past, it can affect your driving experience in the future. No incident is too trivial to have an effect. From getting lost to driving through a bad storm, past bad experiences can trigger driving anxiety in motorists.
Fear of authority – While the ambulance teams, police, and fire services are usually there to help us through our difficulties, some people may feel nervous or anxious around authority figures. This can prevent them from hitting the roads with authorities around or unfamiliar traffic situations.
Claustrophobia – This is one of the most-publicised and common phobias. It is a general fear of being in enclosed spaces. Whether you are in the passenger or driver’s seat, it can occur to you.
Fear of accidents – Some people suffer from a phobia known as ‘dystychiphobia’ which can prevent them from being in all situations that can put them at risk of physical danger, including sitting behind the wheel.
How Can I Cure My Fear of Driving?
While not all cases of driving anxiety are necessarily ‘curable’, there are some practical tips that can allow you to ease the tensions associated with driving over time.
Some general tips include:
Avoid empty stomachs and caffeine – Cut down on your caffeinated drink intake to ease your anxiety. Caffeine is a known trigger of anxiety, so if you want to have a positive feeling while driving the best way would be to avoid caffeine. Never get behind the wheel on an empty stomach or while being sleep deprived.
Stress management – Unfortunately, prolonged periods of high stress can lead to anxiety. This is why it is important to keep your stress levels down. Take regular breaks at work, meditate, exercise, and do yoga to manage stress and anxiety.
Virtual reality (VR) therapies – Research suggests VR therapy as an effective method to treat driving anxiety. The computer technology acts nearly like a video game, enabling therapists to initiate scenarios which expose motorists to road situations that evoke fear, such as overtaking, tunnels, or bridges.
Therapeutic techniques – You can also opt for therapeutic exercises like ‘desensitisation’. This involves taking small steps to expose yourself to situations that can trigger anxiety. You can simply sit in the parking with your car’s engine running or drive through a motorway alone. It may take hours or even months to get to the next step.
In-car focus – When are behind the wheel try to avoid thinking negative things. Keep your mobile phone away and drive at a slightly slower speed to process information better.
Consider driving with an experienced friend – Sometimes the pressure of driving alone can trigger anxiety in drivers. You can consider driving with an experienced friend or family member until you are more confident with driving and the roads.
While some people won’t experience any physical symptoms, others may experience symptoms like confusion, dizziness, dry mouth, sweaty palms, perspiration, and others. Take therapies and the help of experienced drivers to assist you until you conquer your fear of driving. Try to stay calm while driving and stave off negative thoughts. It may take weeks or months to overcome your driving anxiety, but it is okay to take one step at a time.