How To Master Driving Phobias

Last Updated: 10/05/2022

Learning to drive can be tough enough in normal circumstances, but if you’ve got a driving phobia, or phobias, then getting behind the wheel can be stressful and frankly downright scary.

In order for you to pass your test and enjoy the freedom that driving gives you, you’re going to need to conquer those phobias, or at the very least find a way of dealing with them.

While we’re fairly used to hearing of phobias relating to, perhaps, spiders, or another animal or situation, driving phobias are not something that you hear much about unless you suffer with one yourself.

For a driver with a driving phobia, the mere thought of getting behind the wheel can be enough to trigger a negative reaction.

The fear can manifest in any number of ways, each will likely differ from one driver to the next.

Panic attacks are fairly common when those with a phobia are made to face them, or even think about it.

Within the scope of a driving phobia, you will also get drivers who have perhaps passed their test but did not get much experience thereafter.

This can lead to severe anxiety when they face the prospect of driving, leading to nervousness, sweats, nausea and other symptoms.

Driving phobias can also be born out of previous bad experiences on the road.

If a driver has been involved in road traffic accidents or found themselves in a particularly uncomfortable scenario while driving, this can be enough to trigger a phobia.

As with all phobias, drivers will need to try to conquer their phobia in whichever way works best for them.

Once they have done so, the phobia will dissipate or disappear altogether.

What You Will Learn

We’re going to talk you through a couple of techniques to help you deal with your driving phobia and hopefully come out of the other side in a much more positive mindset with regards to driving.

Regardless of why you have your phobia or how it manifests itself, the methods of trying to master them are largely the same.

No single solution works for every driver either, so you’re going to need to find the one that works for you.

As ever, we will break this guide up into our familiar format, making it easy to follow and hopefully easier to learn from.

The sections will be as follows:

  • Step-By-Step Guide
  • Video Demonstration
  • Hints & Tips
  • Useful Information
  • Final Thoughts
  • Further Resources

Step-By-Step Guide

We’re going to cover several different step-by-step methods of trying to fight your driving phobia.

Read through each one and consider which you think would work best for your own scenario.

Practice Being Comfortable In The Car:

Our first guide will focus on becoming comfortable with your environment.

Sometimes, drivers struggle with even sitting behind the wheel, let alone driving anywhere, so these steps are designed to help create a comfortable and calm environment in the car.

  • Remove any mess or distractions out of your car and make sure it’s fairly clean inside.
  • Sit in the car as regularly as you can and make the environment a relaxing one. Perhaps put a new air freshener in that is a familiar or calming scent for you.
  • When you sit in the car, relax. Maybe read a book or practise some slow, deep breathing. The more comfortable you are sitting behind the wheel, the better chance you have of beating your phobia.
  • Try some progressive muscle relaxation. By tightening and relaxing muscles, in your hand for example (clenching your fist for a few seconds and releasing it again), it can help the body to relax.
  • Try to associate your car with positivity. If you have some great news or want to call your best friend, then hop in your car and spend some time calling or reflecting on your news there. It helps build a positive mindset toward your car and will give happy thoughts to reflect on every time you get in to drive.

Exposure To Driving:

The importance of slowly building up your exposure to driving should not be underestimated, however, it needs to be done in a managed way or it can make things worse.

  • Once you have progressed to a point where you feel more comfortable in your car and you have some relaxation techniques to fall back on, you should try going out for very short drives on quiet roads.
  • Before you set-off, note down on some paper how anxious you are on a scale of 1 to 10. Over time, this can become a great tool for knowing when you may be about to have a panic attack and thus managing what you do, where you go and how long you’re in the car for.
  • Take somebody out in the car with you who is a calming influence and maybe even a very experienced driver themselves. They can softly talk to you and keep you positive while you’re building up that confidence against the phobia.
  • Build-up your journeys slowly. If you live on a quiet road, you can literally just drive a little to the end of the road, turn around, and come home. Even if it’s a short drive of one or two minutes, it’s progress. If you do not live on a quiet road, ask someone to drive your car somewhere very quiet before you jump into the driver’s seat and try for a few minutes.

Talking To Someone:

The final option for helping to master your driving phobia is to speak to someone for professional help.

  • First, start with your doctor and explain your anxiety with them. They may be able to offer professional medical advice to help you.
  • Secondly, consider professional therapy. Do your research and look for a therapist who perhaps specialises in helping people beat their phobias, and more specifically, driving phobias.
  • Write down all of your fears and when you’re most anxious ahead of your appointment so you’re well prepared.
  • Practise what they advise you to do.

Video Demonstration

Hints & Tips

Having a driving phobia can have significant negative effects on your life.

It can reduce how much time you spend with people you love or going out for social occasions.

It can impact your career if you are not able to travel far for work and it can also just make you unnecessarily stressed and panicked.

A great way of moving forward is to not hide your phobia.

Tell family and friends of your concerns and anxiety and when it’s at its worst so they are in a position to help.

They may then be perfect to rely on for helping beat that phobia once you have the courage to begin making small steps – be it sitting in your car or driving somewhere.

Also, telling people will reduce at least some of the stress on you. Keeping things like this to yourself is not healthy.

Useful Information

If you have a driving phobia, you can feel very isolated and like nobody in the world knows what you’re going through. Thankfully, you couldn’t be more wrong.

Thousands of people in the UK suffer with some sort of anxiety when they get behind the wheel, so you’re certainly not alone.

Many charities now provide help and resources, including group sessions you can attend, to help conquer your driving phobia.

We have listed a few resources below which can help you on way to finding more help and support:

Anxiety Care UK – This page goes into a great amount of detail about what driving phobias are, how they can be helped and discusses finding the cause of the phobia.

Mind UK – Mental health charity Mind is one of the UK’s biggest and has a wealth of resources about phobias and the impact they can have on your life.

NHS – Finally, check out the NHS page for self-help with phobias. There may be some additional information you find useful.

Final Thoughts

In addition to reaching out for professional help and sharing details of your phobia with families and friends, the other thing you must do on some level is expose yourself to driving.

As tough as it is, overcoming fears will mean that at some point you must face those fears and phobias and so spending more time in the car and behind the wheel will benefit you in the long-term.

Further Resources