Driving a car causes great stress in some people. They suffer from amaxophobia, in other words, a fear of driving. What are the causes of this phobia? How to overcome?
If certain phobias seem unreasonable and incomprehensible, like those of butterflies or other small things, the fear of driving is somewhat reasonable. It is a risky activity, which requires know-how and sustained attention. Each year, the number of road accidents is there to remind us. The fear of driving is therefore understandable, but it becomes less rational and more problematic when it prevents you from moving when you have the normal skills to do so. Learning, experience, and precautions adapted to the situation must allow the risks to be controlled.(1)
What Is The Best Medication For Driving Anxiety?
Although some medicines cannot resolve the underlying causes of anxiety episode symptoms, they can still help to minimize them. Your psychiatrist may give SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and benzodiazepines. They can help you deal with the signs of severe anxiety attacks so that you can overcome the underlying cause.(3)(4)
Simple Ways To De-Stress While Driving
You need to adhere to simple ways to de-stress while driving. The main way to achieve it is by respiratory control, which helps fight against all muscle tension and the racing of the heart and breathe. Sitting in the car, you can always breathe calmly, and take advantage of red light to focus for a few seconds on your breathing rate.
The first thing to do is to determine the extent of your fear of driving; whether it is a controllable fear or an irrational fear that you are unable to overcome. If it is an uncontrollable phobia, it is better to consult a specialist.
Prepare Well: a lack of driving skills and knowledge can cause feelings of insecurity. You can manage theoretical learning, try hundreds of simulators, but at some point, you will have to sit facing the wheel and start the practice, having confidence in your abilities.
Avoid All Distractions While Driving: no conversation, no music, no phone, no hair retouching while looking in the rear-view mirror.
Choose Driving Times That Have Good Traffic: do not drive during rush hour. If possible, start driving on Sundays.
Short Trips: It is recommended to start with short trips in order to master the route and gain confidence.
Do Not Drive With Negative Passengers: Never get into your car with negative people or someone with whom you are not comfortable. If your partner, parents or friends do not help you when you are driving, then they shouldn’t accompany you during your learning.(2)(3)(4)(5)
Several Types Of Causes Exist
A lack of self-confidence and more important anxiety which makes fear the worst.
The traumatic memory of an accident that you have experienced, or that you have witnessed, which creates the equivalent of post-traumatic phobia
A fear closer to agoraphobia, which is the anticipation of discomfort while driving, or of an aggravated incident due to the situation of being confined in the vehicle, in particular in a traffic jam, a tunnel, bridge, highway, etc.
Fears close to obsessive-compulsive disorder: fear of committing a fault and of causing a serious accident without being aware of it, or fear of having a dangerous impulse for you or others (impulse phobias).
In general, one or more of these reasons are responsible for driving anxiety. An anxious and insecure person behind the wheel will be much more destabilized by an experience of an accident, even a minor one, than a driver who was already very confident.
The stress of driving usually results in access or panic. Quite minor incidents, such as a problem restarting after a stop or a red-light signal, a hesitation between two roads at a crossroads, or a car a little urgent behind you can trigger the symptoms.
These stress peaks can complicate driving by absorbing available attention and disturbing your focus, even if essential reflexes are most often retained. A vicious circle sets in, anxiety and its consequences become a reason for additional worry.(1)(2)
- Taylor JE, Connolly MJ, Brookland R, Samaranayaka A. Understanding driving anxiety in older adults. Maturitas. 2018;118:51-55.
- Zinzow HM, Brooks JO, Rosopa PJ, et al. Virtual reality and cognitive-behavioral therapy for driving anxiety and aggression in veterans: a pilot study. Cognitive and behavioral practice. 2018;25(2):296-309.
- Taylor JE. The extent and characteristics of driving anxiety. Transportation research part F: traffic psychology and behaviour. 2018;58:70-79.
- Hempel ME, Taylor JE, Connolly MJ, Alpass FM, Stephens CV. Scared behind the wheel: what impact does driving anxiety have on the health and well-being of young older adults? International psychogeriatrics. 2017;29(6):1027-1034.
- Zinzow HM, Jeffirs SM. Driving aggression and anxiety: intersections, assessment, and interventions. Journal of clinical psychology. 2018;74(1):43-82.