Driving Anxiety: What Is It and What Can You Do?

woman sitting in the driver's seat of a car with her face in her hands

Driving can be a very liberating and essential element of life for most people. However, for some individuals, getting behind the wheel can also cause severe anxiety, impacting not only their ability to drive but also their overall quality of life. People who have experienced previous accidents, witnessed traumatic events, or simply find themselves extremely nervous on the road can suffer from driving anxiety. In this blog post, we'll explore what driving anxiety entails, its common triggers, as well as practical tools and strategies to help manage it effectively.

Understanding Driving Anxiety

Driving anxiety, sometimes referred to as vehophobia or driving phobia, is an irrational and overwhelming fear or anxiety associated with driving. It can affect people of all ages, backgrounds, and driving experiences. Driving anxiety can manifest itself in several ways, such as panic attacks, increased heart rate, sweating, dizziness, avoidance of driving, or even complete refusal to get behind the wheel.

Common Triggers of Driving Anxiety

There are various factors that can contribute to driving anxiety. Some common triggers include:

  • Past traumatic experiences, such as car accidents or near misses, causing the individual to develop a fear of similar incidents.
  • Witnessing or hearing about severe accidents involving loved ones or others, leading to increased anxiety about potential incidents while driving.
  • General anxiety disorder or panic disorder, causing an individual to experience heightened anxiety in various situations, including driving.
  • Fear of losing control while driving, due to potential mechanical failures, poor road conditions, or the actions of other drivers.
  • Inexperience or lack of confidence in one's driving skills, often seen in new or infrequent drivers.

Strategies for Managing Driving Anxiety

Fortunately, there are numerous methods and tools that can help individuals overcome or manage their driving anxiety.

  • Gradual Exposure: Facing the fear of driving by gradually increasing the time spent behind the wheel, the speed driven, or the complexity of driving situations. This can help in building confidence and mental resilience over time.
  • Deep Breathing Exercises: Focusing on slow and controlled breathing can help reduce anxiety, increase relaxation, and regain control during moments of intense stress while driving.
  • Utilizing Relaxation Techniques: Practicing mindfulness, progressive muscle relaxation, or visualization techniques can help calm an anxious mind and reduce overall stress levels.
  • Seeking Professional Help: Engaging with mental health professionals such as therapists, psychologists or psychiatrists can help explore the root causes of the anxiety and develop personalized coping strategies.
  • Attending Driver Education Courses: Participating in driver's education courses or defensive driving classes can help improve driving skills, increase confidence, and reduce anxiety on the road.

Support from Friends and Family

The support of understanding friends and family members can play an essential role in managing driving anxiety. Having someone accompany you while driving, offering encouragement, or even just being available to discuss your feelings can significantly help alleviate anxiety levels. Communicate openly and honestly with those around you about your anxiety, so they understand the importance of being supportive and patient.

Legal Considerations

In some cases, driving anxiety can be severe enough to impair an individual's ability to operate a motor vehicle safely. If you or a loved one are suffering from extreme driving anxiety that affects your everyday life, it may be necessary to consult with a legal professional to understand your rights and potential options. For instance, some individuals may qualify for disability benefits, be eligible for accommodation in their workplace, or seek alternative transportation options.

How Our Fresno Attorneys Can Help

Both the mental and physical effects of motor vehicle accidents should be taken into consideration when determining compensation awarded. Our team at Fowler | Helsel | Vogt can help ensure you receive the full and fair compensation you deserve. Call (559) 900-1280 or fill out this short form to request a free consultation.

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