“My phobias worsen as I get older. I’m scared of flying, driving. I’m terrified of sharks. I’m a germaphobe. But I try to face my fears; I do. Well, most of them.”
– Eli Roth
Nearly everyone fears driving to some degree. After all, there’s an inherit risk of an automobile accident and subsequent injury anytime you get behind the wheel. But it becomes a problem when the anxiety associated with this fear does not accurately reflect the level of danger.
What is a Driving Phobia?
A driving phobia is defined as an intense, persistent fear of driving, even with the risk of injury is minimal. Also known as vehophobia (veho means drive and phobia means fear), it can impact a person’s quality of life in several different ways. When you have an intense fear of driving, you may struggle to keep a job, maintain healthy relationships, and engage in social activities. This can lead to a whole new world of problems in itself, such as chronic depression and insomnia.
According to the report “Assessment and treatment of PTSD after a motor vehicle collision: Empirical findings and clinical observations,” between 25 to 33% of people involved in an automobile crash that resulted in hospital treatment develop a driving phobia. Other reports suggest that up to 10% of all drivers suffer extreme anxiety when behind the wheel. But even if you’ve never been in a serious accident, you may still have or develop this phobia.
What Causes Driving Phobia?
There are several different known causes of driving phobia, one of which is agoraphobia. Agoraphobia is an intense of fear of staying in a place where the person is unable to seek help. Studies have shown that 43% of people who suffer from agoraphobia also have a fear of driving. Because driving places a person outside of his or her comfort zone — and into an area where they are unable to seek help — it’s closely related to agoraphobia.
People who suffer from panic attacks are also more likely to develop a driving phobia. Panic attacks, while typically short, can prove debilitating. If a person experiences a panic attack while driving, he or she could collide with another motorists. This fear fuels the individual’s driving phobia, making it difficult for him or her to muster the courage needed to drive.
Tips to Overcome Driving Phobia
- Get comfortable in your car first. Try sitting in your car while it’s parked in your driveway, familiarizing yourself with the environment. You don’t have to necessary drive or even crank it, but just spending time inside of your car will ease the stress and anxiety associated with a driving phobia.
- Take baby steps. Rather than attempting to drive on a busy highway during rush hour traffic, start by driving around the neighborhood where there’s little-to-no traffic.
- Practice deep-breathing relaxation techniques. The pace at which you breathe will directly affect your level of fear and anxiety. Slowing down your breathing by taking slow, deep breaths can ease the stress of driving.
- Listen to calm music. Play calm, soothing music while you drive.
- Build your driving confidence. Lack of confidence will only fuel a driving phobia, which is why it’s important to build your confidence when behind the wheel. Push the fear out of your mind and keep driving. Over time, your confidence will grow, and subsequently, your fear will decline.
Get the support you need to make important life changes. If you would like to complement your therapy with an alternative treatment option (or need a place to start), you might consider trying hypnotherapy. Hypnotherapy can help you sort out your feelings and give you the courage and strength you need to move on with your life, set new goals, and rebuild an always damaged self-esteem.
Call for your FREE consultation. No pressure. No obligation. Let me help you understand what this might mean for you. Hypnosis and Life Coaching have helped many. Let it help you