fear of driving

How to Overcome Fear of Driving: 6 Tips by Experts

by Zutobi · Updated May 03, 2023

Every year, a lot of people stop driving or end up avoiding certain driving situations due to experiencing driving anxiety and panic. In a society where cars are used as transportation and vital for many jobs, overcoming driving anxiety and its symptoms can help immensely both in private and in public life.

Driving anxiety (also known as fear of driving) is more common than most people might think. It can result in repeatedly selecting a far longer route with less traffic, which most people have done at least once, but it may also more critically result in a person letting the car stand unused in the garage and taking the bus or bicycle instead.

You Can Overcome Your Driving Anxiety!

While you may think you are stuck with your driving anxiety, millions of people that have previously experienced driving anxiety have overcome their anxiety and no longer have any symptoms. There are many things you can do to reduce your fear of driving and get better that together will make a real difference.

In this article, we’ll go through some of the most important tips for how to get rid of driving anxiety.

6 Tips How to Overcome Anxiety While Driving

1 – Get help from a driving instructor

The first and most important tip is that you hire a driving instructor to help you get used to driving in difficult situations while also improving your driving skills. By learning about safe driving skills from a professional driving instructor, you will know for a fact you are learning the most up-to-date driving skills. With time, you’ll become more confident in traffic, get used to driving in traffic, and you won’t have to be fearful of getting into the car.

Even if you think you are a good driver, taking lessons with a driving instructor will still help immensely. This is especially important if you haven’t been behind the wheel for some time.

student with driving instructor
Getting professional help from an instructor can help build your confidence behind the wheel, and get rid of any anxiety.

2 – Learn the rules of the road

In addition to taking lessons with a driving instructor, you want to know the rules of the road by heart. If you know exactly what to do in each situation, and how others will act, you will feel much more comfortable in traffic. A common mistake new drivers make is that they study just enough to pass their permit test, but not enough to actually understand all driving rules and safe driving skills you need to stay safe in the long run.

By learning safe driving skills you will reduce the risk of an accident drastically, which should reduce your driving anxiety over time. For example; safe driving skills help you maintain a proper following distance to vehicles in front which means you won’t need to brake or change lanes as much. Another safe driving example would be to plan your routes so you won’t need to change lanes as much.

Thoroughly read through the driver handbook a few times, so you feel like you know how you should behave in different situations.

All the Zutobi Drivers Ed courses focus on safety and defensive driving techniques. Even if you have a license, we recommend that you read up on the rules of the road and learn the latest techniques and practices.

3 – Practice, practice, practice!

It may sound harsh to suggest that people who experience anxiety while driving should sit behind the wheel more, but the more you practice, the better a driver you will become and the less stressful driving will feel. Driving anxiety often relates to feeling inadequate in a car. You should see that your driving anxiety lessens the more you get used to handling your car in traffic and the more comfortable you feel as a driver.

Driving anxiety often lessens with practice. Start off in safe and calm environments, then gradually expose yourself to other driving situations.

We suggest that you begin by practicing on quiet streets with little traffic and gradually move to more busy roads. That way, you’ll have a smooth transition into the type of busy roads that are usually the hardest for persons with driving anxiety or fear of driving in general. Focus on feeling relaxed and calm and free.

4 – Meditation

For some, finding a way to relax and simply let go of your worries can do wonders. Mediation is a time when you can fully relax and clear your head. A few minutes at home may be all it takes to unwind. Best of all? You can find mediation videos on the internet so you don’t even have to leave your home.

5 – Therapy

If your fear of driving is based on a real-life event like being involved in an accident or seeing someone else hurt from an accident, perhaps therapy is the key. Finding the root of the problem can help you overcome your driving anxiety the fastest.

Many people with driving anxiety hold it inside themselves rather than talk about it. Therapy will help you face your fear and discuss it with someone who can help you unravel what exactly it is you are scared of. In many cases, therapy leads to an understanding that there is nothing to be afraid of by dismantling the anxiety or fear one step at a time.

man anxious when driving
If you’ve been involved in a traumatic event that may be the cause of your anxiety behind the wheel, then therapy might help you.

6 – Do It Your Way

If something works for you, or you need time, do it your way. It’s a process of eliminating what doesn’t work and finding the stuff that does work. We’ve outlined some tips to help you out, but the truth is that some people need to go through a different process. Finding what works for you may take time, but you’ll get there as long as you keep at it.

Student studying the rules of the road
You know you best. Some people may need more practical practice behind the wheel, while some may need more theoretical practice. Test your way forward to see what works for you!

What Makes Driving Anxiety Dangerous?

While it is convenient to think that driving anxiety only affects the person who has it, it can in fact affect others too.

Drivers suffering from driving anxiety often slow down in traffic to stay safe – but evidence shows that driving anxiety makes most people a worse and more dangerous driver.

Why is that? Well, drivers facing anxiety are scared to make the correct choices in traffic and may cause unsafe situations simply by virtue of driving too slowly or defensively. For example, driving too slowly can be just as dangerous as speeding.

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