What Causes The Fear Of Driving?

August 24, 2021

Every driver out there must have been so excited to finally get a driving license after learning to drive at a good driving school. But then, for some, the excitement was soon replaced by the fear of driving. Talk of the ironies of life! Here, we are not talking about the everyday anxiety you may have as an inexperienced driver.

There is a name for every form of fear, and the fear of driving happens to be called amaxophobia. It is also known as motor phobia, ochlophobia, or homophobia. The fear of driving is more common than you think, affecting about 12.5% of Americans. It is also not uniform: while some drivers only fear driving in storms, through tunnels, or on highways, others fear the very idea of driving.

Again, the fear can persist even when you are not the one driving! Just being in a vehicle can trigger amaxophibia in those with its intense or chronic version.

It is easy to conclude that the fear of driving is all about the fear of getting involved in a road accident while driving or seated in a car. That is true, but only when you simplify the whole thing. The fear of driving is broad and can be a by-product of a chain of life events totally unrelated to driving, as we will find out.

How Do You Know You have a fear of Driving?

Unlike the typical anxiety or stress that may come to you when you are not yet a good driver or when driving for the first time, the fear of driving is not rational and can still haunt you years after you started driving. The very idea of driving itself will drive you nuts. If you get distressed that something negative will happen whenever you want to drive, you have amaxophobia.

These are the other symptoms of the fear of driving:

  • A confusion that can paralyze your judgment while driving or about to.
  • Sweaty palms.
  • A burning desire to get done with driving as soon as possible and get out of the car.
  • Rapid breathing.
  • Dizziness.
  • Rapid heartbeat.
  • An unreasonable panic (even when the road is clear!).

So, What Causes The Fear Of Driving?

1. Bad Memories

We can also call this a bad past experience. Let’s admit it: we are partly a product of our yesterday. Some people have witnessed or been involved in gruesome road accidents, and the experience left disturbing memories that keep creeping back whenever they are driving or planning to.

Some traumatic driving experiences, like driving through a sinister storm or getting lost, may leave indelible bad memory that can later impact one’s ability to drive calmly.

Some of us know how to brush off such people, but then we are wired differently; therefore, other people cannot easily clear their memories of the accident scene they saw first-hand or watched on TV.

2. Overcautious Relatives and Friends

Some people have ended up with the fear of driving because of their overcautious parents, siblings, or friends. If your parents are too concerned about your safety whenever you are to drive, you may end up fearing the whole thing.

Do your friends always instruct you on how to make turns, or do this and that, yet you are already an experienced driver? This, even if being done in good faith, might trigger the fear of driving. The unspoken message you could be getting from them is that you are a bad driver who can cause a fatal accident.

But while at it, we are not insinuating that you should not listen to helpful driving tips from family and friends, especially when it is obvious you still need those tips.

Some videos about driving tips can end up turning you off from driving, especially when the explainer uses too frightening instances when explaining the results of poor judgment while driving.

3. Lack of Confidence in Your Driving Skills

You can also be the sole reason why you suffer from the fear of driving a car. You may have graduated from a driving school after passing the theory and road tests, but then you still doubt yourself. When driving, you keep fearing you are about to make a mistake. If you do not put this anxiety in check, it gradually develops into a full-blown, ever-there fear of driving.

4. Driving Through Unfamiliar Places

Some drivers end up with the fear of driving if they are driven out of their comfort zones. The moment they have to drive to a new location far away, the fear set in as they receive directions.

It is not just the fear of going to a new location, but also the fear that they would be worse off if something unpleasant happens to them out there, far away from home.

5. Family History of Anxiety Disorders

For some unlucky drivers, the fear of driving has its roots in the genes; that is, it runs in the family. The family may have a history of anxiety disorders, like OCD, and coupled with one’s usual fears, it can lead to a chronic fear of driving.

How Should You Cope With The Fear Driving?

You are not going to just walk away from your driving career without even trying to cope with your fear of driving. There are steps you can take to deal with the condition to reduce or eliminate its impact on your ability to drive safely.

Here are the best ways to deal with your fear of driving:

1. Understand What Could Be the Root Cause

You need to look into yourself, your family and then retrace your experiences to see if you can find something that might have interfered with your perception. When, where, or with which people do you usually feel most uneasy. Have you been involved in a grisly road accident, or have you witnessed one?

2. Seek Professional Help

By understanding the root cause, you can then face your fears. If it runs too deep that you cannot on your own train your mind to shun fear, you will have to seek therapy help to reverse the condition. After listening to your particular case, the therapist can then develop an appropriate treatment option, from medication, psychotherapy to support groups, or all of these.

3. Take a Refresher Driving Course

If your fear of driving has to do with a recent bad experience or aging, you may need to take a refresher driving course to see if you can rewire your brain to get hold of the good old habits. At times the fear is rooted in anxiety.

Wrap Up

Would you want to take a refresher driving course? Would you love to become a damn good driver here in New York? Pierre Paul Driving School is right here in Brooklyn. We have experienced instructors to prepare you for the driving test. We can also schedule your driving test and provide a car for the same. Contact us today at 718-576-6277 or info@pierrepauldriving.com for more information.