Fear of Driving

Friday 1st May 2020

Fear of Driving

It's important to realise that if you have a fear of driving or learning to drive, then you're not alone!

Approximately a third of drivers express some concern or fear about driving. This could be people who feel anxious about driving at night, in bad weather, in busy traffic or on a new and unfamiliar route. So a little discomfort about driving is completely normal.

However, we all know that a fear, or phobia, can become overwhelming and that's when it can cause problems.

Generally speaking, there are a number of reasons that underlie our phobia of driving... we'll have a look at some of them below. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list, it is just meant to help you discover some of your own reasons and hopefully help you to address them.

1. Learnt Behaviour

As always, we learn things from others and even before we get into the driver's seat for the first time we are preconditioned by others. If we have an experience of being driven by a calm, controlled and courteous driver the chances are that it'll have rubbed off on us. If our formative years have been spent in the company of a poor driver who constantly takes risks and is prone to outbursts of road rage and criticism then there's a good chance that we've got a lot of excess baggage that we bring along with us.

2. Experience of a car crash

A car crash of any type/severity can affect us badly. From being a witness to a minor bump through to being the driver who is responsible for a fatality. The effects can be long lasting and difficult to cope with and often the easier solution is to avoid driving completely - which may be a good or a bad outcome.

3. Prolonged and Intensive Period of Stress

Stress is part of life and therefore, part of driving. The pressure of a deadline spurs us on to complete a piece of work or file a tax return. This stress is short lived and is sometimes pretty useful as it helps us perform at a higher level. So the stress of driving in busy traffic could make us more alert and observant and ultimately make us safer. But there are other stresses in life that can affect us negatively

  • pregnancy
  • divorce
  • illness
  • bullying
  • redundancy

All these experiences can affect our self confidence and also our physical health.

4. Stopping driving for a period of time - harder to start again the longer the time.

The above four areas are often interrelated. Eg we're frightened to get back behind the wheel after a minor shunt, not solely because of the damage or injury caused, but because we have low self esteem and the accident was just the straw that broke the camel's back.

Maybe, the first step to overcoming our fear of driving is learning to be a bit kinder and forgiving to ourselves.