Psychiatry & Psychology--General/Fear Of Driving


I recently got my license which allows me to now drive alone. There's only one problem. I'm terrified to drive, I'm afraid I'm going to cause an accident, make embarrassing mistakes, etc.. I also have two young children, I'm afraid to drive with them in the car as well. I don't want to feel this way, I don't really know what to do to reassure myself. I've always been nervous of driving as a result of a bad car accident I was involved in (12 years ago). For me to even get my license is a huge deal. What can I do to relieve myself of the anxiety and fear I have?

Hi Laura

There's a psychology term for any kind of phobia you can imagine -- balloons, clowns, washing up, bats, rats, cats, .... Yet, driving phobia is more common than any of these and there's no special term for it. Moreover, in England, chaufferophobes (there, I made one up for you) can attach an "L" signal to their car and expect a wide berth, but that's not used in Canada.

Still, it's so common that I would serve you best by pointing to where you can find everything you'd want to know about how to deal with it.  Just google "fear of driving" to find lots of material.

Meanwhile, I'll add this.  1. If it were a true phobia, you would never have attained your licence.  2. Extreme caution is hardly a bad condition to have. I'd rather be a passenger with you than with most of the drivers I know. (There aren't many people with the opposite condition of yours -- absolute fearlessless behind the wheel -- because they tend to get killed off.)  3. Ignore why you have it, and focus on dealing with the discomfort. A large part of this will be accustomation though practice, so be patient.

Hope that helps a bit, thanks for asking us, and good luck with it.


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Alan Auerbach


Taught psychology for 30 years, authored four textbooks. Specialize in introductory and industrial/organizational psychology, but will tackle wider range of areas.

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