Vehophobia or the fear of driving can impact one’s daily life especially since most of us are dependent on this activity to get by. It can affect one to an extent that s/he refuses to go shopping, visit a doctor or even drive to work. Individuals with the extreme fear of driving prefer public transport or request friends or family members to drive them each time. This is fine, so long as these options are available at one’s disposal. However, this might not be the case always affecting the individual’s education, job and other activities negatively.
There are varying degrees of Vehophobia. Some individuals are only anxious about driving on highways or certain dreaded routes. Some are unable to pass their driving tests or acquire a license. A few might be having valid driving licenses but they pose a danger to themselves as well as other drivers. They can have a panic attack while driving and freeze up to an extent that they are unable to apply brakes or change gears etc. In extreme cases, a person may even be terrified of being a passenger in the vehicle.
Causes of extreme fear of driving phobia
An individual with the extreme phobia of driving has likely had a negative experience in the past.
- S/he might have been involved in a crash or witnessed a particularly bad accident.
- Having strict driving instructors at the time of learning can also lead to Vehophobia.
- Having experienced a particularly dangerous or scary journey through fog, rain, snow, fleet or other adverse conditions or having large animals such as a moose or deer dart suddenly in front of one’s car can cause this phobia.
- Seeing anxious parents panic while driving can lead a child to have vehophobia.
- Road rage from fellow driver or passerby (where one has shouted or provoked the individual).
- Experiencing stress due to traffic congestions; these can cause the brain to develop panic/anxiety response each time one gets behind the wheel.
- People prone to anxiety attacks or nervous disorders or those with adrenal deficiencies are likely to develop the fear of driving.
- Hearing or reading news items about bad accidents or watching movies that depict violent car crashes can create negative thoughts about driving.
Symptoms of Vehophobia
Vehophobia can lead to various symptoms that can be characterized as emotional and physical.
The physical symptoms include: shaking, trembling, having a dry mouth, rapid heart rate, shallow breathing, chest pains, nausea, sweaty hands etc. Such a panic attack can occur each time the individual gets behind the wheel. It can cause one to freeze up so that s/he is unable to change gears or apply the brakes.
Emotional symptoms include refusing to drive, avoiding situations that encompass driving, feeling panic, terror or extreme dread at thought of driving, experiencing terrifying images about driving. The individual also feels detached or removed from reality, in that; he or she feels the events are happening to someone else.
Some people may try to avoid highways or take longer routes so that they do not have to drive on dreaded roads. Others may get into arguments or fights with loved ones and come up with excuses when forced or compelled to drive.
Overcoming the fear of driving phobia
- Hypnotherapy is one of the most effective therapies for overcoming the fear of driving. It gets to the bottom of the fear, traces why it has taken root and helps provide solutions to overcome the same.
- Facing one’s fear is one of the best ways of getting over Vehophobia. It is important to reduce tension and stress of any kind when getting behind the wheel. Imagining positive thoughts and visualizing ideal situations are some ways of accomplishing this. A therapist can also help one relearn or ‘un-learn’ negative things the brain has taught itself.
- Talking about one’s fears, and taking defensive driving lessons, or joining special groups that help one overcome such a phobia are a few other methods of dealing with Vehophobia.
- Cognitive behavior therapy and gradual desensitization are some other options to help one overcome this phobia.
There are various therapies to overcome Vehophobia but it is vital to choose one that you are most comfortable with, in conjunction with a medical practitioner’s advice. Understand that you are not alone, and there are many like you who have dealt with this phobia. It is very possible to overcome Vehophobia and success in driving again is very much possible.