Tips on How to Overcome Your Fear of Driving
Driving Phobia or fear of driving is when a person starts to see the activity as a dangerous or life threatening activity and is no longer capable of sitting on the driver’s seat or to drive on highways. It has affected many people and the numbers keep going up each decade. It actually might not be any increment in the number of affected people but could be that more research studies are being done and more data is being collected which leads us to believe that fear of driving is affecting more people. Data from recent research showed that every one in ten drivers is affected somehow by driving anxiety in his/her life.
Drivers affected with phobia possess this feeling that things will always go wrong. If they have been close enough to an accident, their mind brings up that scene again and again, confirming that an accident or collapse WILL happen.
People did not give much importance to driving anxiety in old days, our ignorance to the subject can be proven from the fact that there used to be no medical term for the fear or phobia of driving few years ago. But now we know that it’s a thing which needs attention and a solution to overcome this. There are numerous people who have various kinds of driving phobias. For example, some people like to skip some specific high traffic roads, some are afraid of driving on bridges, highways and freeways while others cannot drive alone.
As sometimes people ask what is driving phobia called, here are few names of driving phobias with their descriptions:
- Dystychiphobia- Fear of accidents.
- Hodophobia- Fear of road travel.
- Motorphobia- Fear of automobiles.
- Ochophobia- Fear of vehicles.
- Tachophobia- Fear of speed.
- Traumatophobia- Fear of injury.
There are few who are even afraid of sitting on the driver’s seat. So they stay away from cars and spend their day to day lives by using public transport or by walking. While walking and using public transport have their own advantages, you will be missing a lot if you cannot drive and go to places whenever you feel like it. You will have to be dependent on bus timings and empathy of your friends and family to pick you up and drop you off. It’s a whole another feeling of freedom when you have your own vehicle and can go wherever you want, whenever you want.
Causes of Your Phobia: Before we start looking for a cure for your fear, it will be wise and helpful along the way, to first know the cause of your fear or anxiety. It will be helpful if you can remember when you first started feeling the way you feel about driving. Was it an accident, an argument with someone on the road, road rage or a story of someone getting killed in an accident that makes you anxious. If you found the reason of your problem, great. If not, try asking your friends and family if they can provide you with some clue. You can also book an appointment with a local psychotherapist or a driving instructor who is expert on the subject in your local area. When you realize the cause, try reverse engineering your brain by going through the same/similar experience step by step.
For example, if you had an accident at a round curve, take somebody with you and drive through that curve again. This will reinforce your brain to remove the bad thoughts and get a reassuring feeling that things don’t always go wrong. This is called cognitive reprogramming i.e. programming your brain to attach happy/good feelings with the activity. It’s true that just giving you this suggestion is lot easier than doing it when you have the phobia. But try doing these things step by step. Start with small steps first, like sitting on the driver’s seat, starting the car, driving few minutes around your house etc.
Treatments of Driving Phobia: There are many treatments being offered by psychologists for fearful drivers in US, Canada and around the world. But not all of us need to go through the sessions with a psychotherapist. Following are some simple tips that will help you overcome the fear of driving and you will be able to enjoy your day to day life without depending on public transport and your friends.
Getting Help from Someone Who is Diagnosed with Driving Phobia: In your friends and family, find someone who has been diagnosed with the phobia and talk to them about your fears. The other person could give you some extra tips to reduce your fear or can recommend to a good therapy or driving course. There are numerous defensive driving courses available where instructors teach you lessons specific to your fears. Another advantage of talking about your fears with someone who used to have been in the same situation is that they will understand what you are going through and will give you empathy and motivation instead of ignoring you. By seeing them driving proficiently you will also get inspired and start to believe that it’s quite possible and easy to become a good driver.
Be Logical About Your Thinking: Most of the people who are affected by driving phobia happens to emphasise on their feelings instead of data and research. Just because you saw an accident on your way to home does not mean that you are also going to get hit on the same road. Try thinking logically and stay away from absolutist people who always deliver you crappy news. Also, try not reading about the accidents in newspapers and stop watching News bulletins. These people make a lot fuss out of nothing. Most of the News reporters are not experts in specific subjects and are very less likely to check their sources for data before making a claim. So, believe in yourself. Only watch or read the content which motivates you, nothing negative.
Do Exercise : Doing physical exercises such as jogging and Yoga helps you put your mind on ease and stay calm and relaxed. When you are relaxed, your brain receives more information to act upon and capable of processing that information and take quick actions when needed on the road. These are also great for anxiety disorders.
- Familiarize yourself with the parts of the car. Read a book or watch some YouTube videos explaining the interior features of your car model and you will find it easier to read various signs or to change gears.
- Drive slowly - it’s best for all, keeps safe you, your car and others on the road.
- Plan your trip ahead so you are not confused while driving.
These are some simple steps, following which you can overcome your fear of driving and enjoy a safe and fun ride. Let us know what do you think, any extra tips that you’d like to add?