Understanding and Treating Driving Fear and Phobia (Part 1)

by on August 23, 2013

Overcome Driving FearWhat Is Driving Phobia?

Driving phobia (also known as “driving fear” or, sometimes, “driving anxiety”) is an anxiety disorder characterized by extreme fear of driving or riding in a vehicle.

How Does Driving Fear Develop?

Driving phobia can begin at any age. In some people who develop driving fear at a young age, the cause of the phobia may be a car accident that occurred while someone else was driving. For example, a child who is involved in a car crash while a parent is driving may feel traumatized by the incident. The child is more likely to be emotionally affected by the event if he or she is old enough to comprehend the level of danger he or she was in.

An auto accident can be shocking and frightening enough to lead to driving fear in children as well as in adults and teenagers. Seeing someone injured in a crash can also be sufficiently traumatizing to cause driving phobia to develop.

Different Forms of Driving Phobia

Driving fear does not always manifest itself in the same way.

Some people are completely terrified of driving. They may or may not have a license and a car, but they probably never drive themselves anywhere. They may rely on someone they trust, like a spouse, to take them where they need to go.

It can be very difficult finding employment in many places without a license and a car or some other reliable form of transportation. This is why individuals who have extreme driving phobia are generally the most likely of driving phobics to have trouble holding a steady job.

Some people who have moderate driving fear are able to drive to certain places out of necessity: their place of work, their child’s school, the grocery store, etc. They tend to stick to the same routes and avoid driving to new places or on unfamiliar roads. These people experience less impairment in their daily life than people who have very high driving anxiety.

The last class of driving phobics contains people who have only mild anxiety related to driving, or who experience anxiety in very specific driving circumstances.

People with mild driving anxiety may be somewhat uncomfortable driving, but they continue to drive. This is usually due to necessity; they may have to drive for work or for the sake of their family. Although they prefer not to drive, they may not appear overly nervous while driving. Some of them express their anxiety through anger, which can lead to road rage.

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