Ever wondered why you cannot stand the idea of ever stepping into the front seat of a car? Does the simple thought of ever riding in one terrify you? There might be a good chance that you, unfortunately, have the fear of driving.
The fear of driving, medically known as “Amaxophobia” or “Vehophobia”, can prove to be quite detrimental to the person’s daily lifestyle. Even though this fear may not be triggered by the idea of the vehicle itself, it can still be a very troublesome experience for the victim.
But how do you know if you have the phobia or not for sure? To help you out with that, we have listed all the symptoms, signs and possible treatments related to the phobia in detail below, just for you.
Signs and Symptoms
Since the phobia itself does not stem from the idea of the vehicle you are subjected to ride or drive in, the symptoms and signs associated with it can be quite difficult to understand.
However, if the following points are present in almost every transportation aspect of your lifestyle on a daily basis, there is a chance that you have the fear of driving.
An increased amount of perspiration even on cold days
A sense of hyperventilation or heightened awareness of your surroundings
Unintended reflex actions, such as pressing the brake too hard or honking the horn
Shaky fingers and failure to focus on a specific point.
While the psychological symptoms may vary from person to person, the above mentioned points are more generalised. On top of that, you might not experience every single symptom to the core, as that also depends on the severity of your fear.
Causes and Common Triggers
The situation responsible for triggering this perpetual fear of driving tends to vary from one person to the other, however, for a majority of time, the underlying cause of it happens to be a frightful car accident or traumatic dream that the victim cannot get over too easily. As a result, the basic thought of driving a car might send the victim into a frenzy.
You can tell if the underlying cause is due to a past car accident, if, whenever you step into the drivers seat, your foot tends to unintentionally stomp on the brake.
This reflex action is mostly present in people post-accident. Medically known as the “Phantom Brake Symptom”, the reflex action is an involuntary movement the victim makes in order to stop the car from getting itself into a similarly ill-fated situation it might have been in, in the past.
The “Phantom Brake Symptom” is mostly shown by experienced drivers who unfortunately now have the fear of driving.
You can go through various short term therapies that will assist you in a long term basis.
The main treatment you can get yourself or a loved one is Behavioural therapy. Through this therapy, your doctor will try to get you back on your feet and into the habit of driving again with the help of virtual reality sessions.
A virtual reality session will include you being given a VR box to wear on your head, with driving simulations being played all along. The entire session is held in a well-observed and controlled environment, so you know you will be in perfectly safe hands.
Even though the idea of driving again, albeit through a virtual reality session might seem quite daunting at first; proper care and daily exposure to your fears in a professionally controlled environment will soon help you embark on the real vehicle.
What Should You Do If You Have It?
The main thing that you can do if you have the phobia is first convince yourself that it is completely normal to be afraid of driving, no matter how intense the fear is. Driving a car does have its own statistics of accidents and mishaps, however, the trauma associated to it can be worked over if you normalise the entire situation first.
If reading the above sections made you realise that you might have the fear of driving, take a deep breath and relax first. It is okay to have the fear as long as you want to get over with it as soon as possible.
Tell a loved one, friend or guardian about your fear and make it clear why you think you might have it to begin with. If you cannot remember why you have the phobia, ask around a family member to fill you up on details of accidents and traumatic experiences that you might have gone through in the past.
In order to cure yourself of the phobia, you should first try to locate the root of the problem.
If a past car accident or traumatic experience is not the reason for your fear of driving, you can seek out other explanations. For example, talk to a psychologist and ask to take a Vehicle Anxiety Questionnaire (DAQ).
More often than not, the fear of driving stems not from a traumatic experience or past accident, but from the anxiety of driving bad in public. This perception of not being able to drive well in public or embarrass oneself publicly can cause a prolonged fear of driving.
This cause is mainly found in inexperienced and amateur drivers. The want to be better than the rest can often push first-time drivers into a sense of anxiety. Taking the DAQ can help you or your loved one in understanding how to get over the fear of driving better.
While driving a car itself is not a necessity most of the times, the fear of it can act as a moral obstacle to many for the rest of their lives. Amaxophobia is not always triggered by traumatic past experiences as peer pressure can also play a great role in giving rise to this fear. If you or anyone you know is suffering from this fear of driving, get assistance as soon as possible and know that it is okay to be afraid of something for a while, but giving in to the fear is never an option.
You guys can also check out Fear Of Open Spaces: Agoraphobia.