It is more than anxiety that causes a fear of driving?

A fear of driving (or being driven) is a very common phobia that often arises when individuals are experiencing too much stress, anxiety or unhappiness in their lives. This scary and uncomfortable condition is (of course) magnified by the fear that the anxious feelings or panic will cause the sufferer to lose their focus and crash. As the worry about driving and other aspects of travel increase, so does the fear of driving, this often limits how far and where the person is prepared to risk venturing.

Occasionally the phobia of driving is referred to as hodophobia which roughly translated means a fear of travel; in our experience a person who panics when driving often has other irrational (travel based) fears about, buses, trains, ferries and a fear of flying too.

We would like to make the differentiation here between a driver who has become fearful of driving and has gradually developed a driving phobia – against a person who is learning to drive and of a generally nervous disposition, this treatment for the fear of driving is aimed at the former individual.

An observation about who gets driving phobias
In our experience of working with people who get anxious when driving (which is considerable) we have always been surprised that the majority of them are confident, intelligent, professional & successful people. Therefore the fear of driving shocks them and makes them begin to doubt themselves, because, usually, they are in control in most other aspects of their life and their personality.   

Common anxiety triggers for those who have a driving phobia

These are some of the more common driving related anxious thoughts our clients report experiencing, when a driving phobia becomes established and begins to hijack them:

  • They are OK on normal roads but have a fear of driving on motorways (Highways) freak them out
  • Feeling that there is no exit from the road – i.e. long distances between motorway exits
  • Traffic jams / road works bring on driving anxiety due to there being no escape
  • Overtaking lorries or having trucks close behind bring on unwanted emotional responses
  • Fearful anticipation i.e. A person crashed into me before – so it may well happen again
  • Excessive fear when driving over bridges (or under bridges) or along sections of road with no safety barriers
  • Certain weather conditions may cause anxiety, such as, rain, fog or snow
  • For some people their driving phobia anxiety is heightened if they drive at night or don’t know where they are going
  • Some people get anxious in towns (too busy) whist others, in the countryside (too remote)
  • It may be worse if their children are present, however, some feel calmer as this may focus their attention
  • Occasionally the fear is of terrible thoughts, like; “I could just drive into that truck and end it all”

Perhaps some of these symptoms of the fear of driving sound like you? Or, perhaps you have some other variant? Either way you are being hijacked by your unconscious mind (and body) and would rather not have these emotional responses and scary and unhelpful thoughts racing around in your mind and this is what we address when you buy this on-line treatment program.

Note: Very occasionally we have seen that this phobia is caused by the need to wear glasses for driving and the person is unaware of the deterioration of their eyesight.

What causes a fear of driving to manifest?

We don’t think it matters (actually, we know it doesn’t matter!)  – However, the person experiencing the fear of driving phobic response tends to want to know because they believe that if they understand why, then it will go away – but it doesn’t work that way! So, even though it doesn’t matter, here are the main reasons the phobia of driving develops.

The most common reason (in people who are experiencing generalized anxiety) is that the panic attacks whilst driving are an extended version of agoraphobia where the person feels uncomfortable being trapped or having restricted exits whilst being away from home. Although this doesn’t make sense to the sufferer it does make sense to psychologists who know that anxiety tries to find ways to (unconsciously) keep you at home!

Another trigger for a fear of driving is having experienced a traumatic event whilst driving (or being a passenger) or witnessing a horrific incident and the unconscious mind has “learned” to keep you away from that environment to keep you safe.

Important Message About a fear of driving
The final reason is about sabotage – the unconscious mind tends to sabotage things you love when it is trying to tell you that something is wrong (stress, life, work, relationships, health etc.) Therefore it is common in men to suddenly become afraid of driving when, in fact, they actually love driving, it is an elegant way that your unconscious mind can hijack you and stop you in your tracks, to tell you that something needs to change in your life! Therefore, often, the fear of driving a car is no more than an unconscious wake up call that other things in your life need to be addressed.

How to overcome a driving phobia

The Anxiety in Mind Anxiety Recovery Program teaches you all about what anxiety is, how phobias form and what you need to do to interrupt anxious feelings and quieten the incessant chatter in your mind. As you follow the instructions and listen to the recordings you’ll learn what you need to do to overcome this condition.

Fear of driving

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As you explore all the facets of anxiety you’ll see that (in the majority of instances) the fear of driving is just a symptom of the anxiety and if you were to only focus on the driving phobia the symptom would just morph to another trigger, such as, scary ruminations or obsessive behaviours - therefore, it is important to remove the anxiety from the source (your unconscious mind) so it doesn’t return.

Driving is your doorway to freedom in life, perhaps it is time to take some sensible action to end your fear of driving?