Many drivers feel anxious, nervous or scared when taking to the road. If you’re one of them, you probably know what it feels like to be in a car and feel completely helpless. You might feel like you’re going to have an anxiety attack or that your heart will stop at any moment. Luckily there are ways you can deal with driving anxiety that doesn’t involve avoiding cars altogether! Here’s what we know about this common phenomenon:
What is a Fear of Driving?
A fear of driving is a type of phobia, which is an intense and irrational fear. If you have this phobia, you may feel panicky when driving or even thinking about driving.
It can be a fear of certain driving situations:
- Driving at high speeds
- Losing control of a car
- Learning to drive
- Driving alone
- Driving in bad weather
- Driving on unfamiliar roads
A fear of driving is common, especially when learning to drive. You may be hesitant to learn. But this tends to go away as you become more familiar with driving. Many cases of driving phobia are the general idea of driving. It may cause a lot of anxiety.
What Can Cause a Fear of Driving?
There’s no definitive answer to why some people develop a fear of driving or have this fear built into them.
Car Accident: It can be caused by a traumatic event, like an accident or getting into a car crash. If someone has been involved in or witnessed a car accident, it may have significantly impacted their driving experience. It could be something small or big, but whatever it is could cause a trigger for the driver.
Fear of Accidents: Some people may suffer from “dystychiphobia” where someone will avoid any situations with increased physical danger. Getting in a car may be seen as high risk to them, so they will refuse to get in a car.
Fear of Travel: Some have a phobia of all forms of transportation and refuse to explore new places, resulting in fear of driving.
Tips for Anxious Drivers
We have compiled a few tips for anxious drivers to come them comfortable with sitting behind the wheel of a car. The benefits of driving are numerous, and we want to help those anxious drivers avail of all the benefits.
1. Focus on the Road Ahead
If you have driving-related anxiety, you may be planning the whole trip, which may get you anxious. You might be checking out maps and every road you need to take. Suddenly, the drive to a new location is becoming very overwhelming.
We can’t all plan a whole trip in our heads. We have to take each road as it comes. Focus on one part at a time. If there’s a bridge to cross, cross that stretch off the road and then focus on the next part. Focusing on the road ahead will take time, but it will help keep you grounded. Embrace your senses by feeling the steering wheel and being present.
2. Keep Your Car in Good Condition
Having your car in proper working order will make it a much more comfortable space. You will feel much calmer and more relaxed driving. Keep it clean and free of clutter or mess, such as empty bottles or wrappers; and regularly wipe down areas such as your dashboard, cockpit and car seats.
3. Limit Distractions
Keep your focus and limit distractions on the road. Keep your phone away from you where you can’t see notifications pop up. Music can be great on a trip in the car but don’t have it too high, or it’ll take your focus off the road.
4. Check the Weather
Be cautious on the road and increase your stopping distance between cars. Give yourself more time if you are travelling to work, so you have more time than usual.
5. Avoid Caffeine
Cut back on caffeinated drinks. They will affect your anxiety levels. If caffeine is a known trigger for you, cut it out altogether and see if it affects your anxiety levels when driving. Remember to eat before you drive, and never drive if you are exhausted.
The good news is that you can overcome your driving anxiety with the right approach. The most important thing is to understand that it can be common to have a fear of driving or driving-related anxiety. You are not alone, and there are many other people out there who share this same experience with you! Remember some of our tips, and hopefully, you’ll overcome your driving anxiety and embrace the sense of independence.
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