Getting over your fear of driving is imperative, even if you currently live in a place where you don't actually need to drive. Driving phobias can occur for a number of reasons, and they're crippling. Trust me, stalkers, I speak from experience. I so fondly remember enjoying driving down the open roads, going nowhere but having fun, and now I practically have panic attacks when I get behind the wheel. You can suffer from a driving phobia no matter how old you are, whether you've driven before or not. If you need help getting over your fear of driving, I think I can help.
Table of contents:
- dig for the cause of your fear
- study the rules of the road again
- practice behind the wheel
- drive the back roads
- avoid any pressure
- mix offensive and defensive driving techniques
- try relaxation methods in the driver's seat
1 Dig for the Cause of Your Fear
You may not have to dig very deeply to uncover the cause of your fear. If you've been in an accident, serious or minor, been on the receiving end of road rage, suffered from car trouble at an inopportune time, or dealt with a particularly bad road trip, that could lead to a fear of getting behind the wheel. If your parents were extremely nervous when you were learning to drive, or if one of them has a fear of driving as well, that could be the cause behind yours. Just consider some of the things you've been through. Getting over your fear of driving depends on discovering the root cause.
2 Study the Rules of the Road Again
Over time, you forget about all those traffic laws. Common sense and practice generally help while you're actually driving, but beefing up on what you learned back in driver's ed can only help. Sometimes when you arm yourself with knowledge, you can put your fears to rest. To this end, learning some basic car maintenance can help as well. I'm doing that, because a very crappy car prone to breaking down at stoplights helped form my phobia.
3 Practice behind the Wheel
I don't necessarily mean driving right now; we'll get to that point in a minute. I mean that feeling comfortable in the car you'll be driving is so important in terms of keeping you calm, relaxed, and at your ease. I know this might not seem like a big deal, but if you're afraid of driving and you get behind the wheel of a car you're not used to, then you know the panic that sets in when you realize you have no idea where all the controls are.
4 Drive the Back Roads
Always start slow when you're trying to get over your fear and start driving again. Head to very low-traffic areas. Back roads are ideal, even if they're two-lane roads – especially then, in fact. However, quiet neighborhood streets are wonderful as well, and you can even practice in sprawling, empty parking lots.
5 Avoid Any Pressure
Don't let anyone pressure you to climb back behind the wheel, and don't pressure yourself. Nerves make any fear or phobia so much worse. Sometimes your friends and family members mean well; they're simply trying to support and encourage you. However, when you feel like everyone expects you to start driving again, or for the first time, it just increases your anxiety. Let them know that you're grateful for their support, but that you want to avoid feeling pressured.
6 Mix Offensive and Defensive Driving Techniques
You can't always be an offensive driver and you can't always be a defensive driver. You have to strike a balance. The best way to do that is to remember one key thing: you're only responsible for yourself. You might have impatient drivers behind you trying to force you to drive faster, but that's not your business. Drivers may get angry if you don't put in a burst of speed to beat the yellow light, but that's not your problem either. Focus on your own driving, your own vehicle, and your own lane, but be aware of other drivers as they relate to you and your safety.
7 Try Relaxation Methods in the Driver's Seat
What makes you calm down? It might be music, deep breathing exercises, or even techniques from yoga. Whatever it is, do it to relax when you climb behind the wheel – but before you start driving anywhere, of course. As you start out, you want to focus more on your driving, not on anything else. That means you should avoid phone calls, texting, changing the radio station, smoking, or even drinking a cup of coffee.
You can get behind the wheel of a car without worrying that you're immediately going to make a mistake and get into a wreck. And please, even if you're 22 or 35, don't feel bad if you need to go back to driving class again. Just take it slow, believe in yourself, and practice the perfect balance of defensive and offensive driving. Do you have this kind of phobia? If you overcame it, we'd love to know how!
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