The five-step guide to overcoming the fear of driving

How I FINALLY conquered my fear of driving – the five step guide to overcoming amaxophobia

  • 47% of UK drivers feel anxious when they get behind the wheel. Are you one of them?
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When we are stressed going for a drive can be a great relaxer but for others being behind the wheel is their worst nightmare.

Amaxophobia is when passengers or drivers persistently feel a sense of overwhelming fear when travelling in a motor.

Sometimes an individual’s phobia of travelling or driving can be so intense, they will may panic while on their journey.

If a person has this phobia they are may also fear travelling in buses, trains, ambulances, trams, aeroplanes and more. 

Signs that you may have the phobia include, dizziness, racing heartbeat while driving, disorientation, sweaty palms and excessive panic.

Certain types of amaxophobia are more severe than others. Some can drive but can’t be a passenger, while others can’t even look at a vehicle without feeling a wave of panic. 

But how can one overcome their driving phobia, no matter how severe? This five step guide is here to help.

43% of drivers in the UK feel nervous on the road according to study by Aviva. Pictured: a stock image of a car on the motorway

1. Get a driving instructor

If driving makes you feel anxious – do not fear, you are not alone, 43% of drivers feel nervous on the road according to study by Aviva.

Daniel Cluff, an occupational therapist and former driving instructor of 13 years echoed this, saying: ‘A lot of people get anxious before they drive or when they first start.

‘It is a very alien experience even if you have been a passenger for many years.’  

He recommended that getting a driving instructor and a few lessons is a good avenue for those wanting to overcome this fear..

Mr Cluff, 48, said: ‘If your fear of driving is more generalised, such as you are learning or relearning to drive then I would suggest getting an approved driving instructor.

‘They have dual controls and they can take control of the vehicle if they need to.

‘As tough as it might be you have to immerse yourself and dive in and overcome your fear. otherwise you will never step over that threshold and dispel the fear or myth holding you back.’

He also imparted advice on what not to do, saying: ‘I would suggest to avoid scenarios that will trigger you, whilst keeping in mind that you might have to face them at some point.

‘Slowly build up as you don’t want to go to pieces when the unexpected happens.’ 

READ MORE: Why we women really are bad drivers and men are to blame!: The phobias and criticism that stop us getting behind the wheel

2. Be honest about your fears

You can lie to others but it is always important in general life to always be honest with yourself, and the exact same applies to your fear of driving.

Releasing your free into the universe, through a voice recording or writing it down on a piece of paper can help you move ever so closer in conquering your fear of driving. 

‘The Brutal Truth Method’ can also be a useful tactic in overcoming your fears with the help of someone else according to The Kentucky Counselling Centre.

This method is when you voice your fear to a friend and they point out how powerless it is. You could say that you have an innate fear of clowns and then your friend would highlight how the clown poses no risk to you.

3. Practice meditation techniques

Meditation has an array of benefits. It reduces your stress levels, it can ease your anxiety and help you get a better night’s sleep.

It can also help relieve some burdens buried deeper in your mind, such as a phobia of driving. It can help you feel less paranoids and more focused when you are on the roads. 

Equally – it’s free. A guide to mastering the art of meditation can also be found here.

4. Use positive words of affirmation

Showing yourself some love by telling your self short positive sentences every day will not only improve your mood but can help.

Jack Canfield, the world’s best-known self-help expert revealed her 13 daily affirmations for success.

Words of affirmation are not only a great way to practice self encouragement and to help you on your journey to success – it can help you defeat the fear of getting behind the wheel. 

Telling yourself: ‘I am afraid to drive, but I can,’ can be a good way to slowly build up your confidence to get on the road.

If you have amaxophobia from travelling in a car (pictured in stock image) it is always important to seek professional help and guidance

5. Go to therapy

For those with a deep-rooted fear of driving, Mr Cluff advised those wanting to get back behind the wheel to seek advice and guidance.

The former driving instructor said: ‘I would ask if there has been a specific or traumatic event that has caused the fear.

‘If it was a nasty car accident, I would suggest counselling, It also may be worth having that discussion with your GP practice.

‘You can even phone CBT therapist and check through your circumstances with them and ask outright and if that type of therapy would help you.’

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a type of counselling the NHS details in their information on treating phobias.

CBT is where an individual is gradually exposed to their phobia over time. However, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) does not advise that adults with phobia utilize computerized CBT as a form of treatment.

However each person and phobia is different, therefore, if you want to seek more advice on how to deal with your phobia, NHS guidance on treatment can be found here. 

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