Vehophobia (Fear of driving)

What is Vehophobia?

Vehophobia is a persistent and intense fear of driving. 

How does Vehophobia start?

Someone with vehophobia might have had a near-miss or an accident whilst driving or witnessed a near-miss or accident as a passenger. Another cause could be panic attacks. When someone has had a panic attack in a car, they can go on to associate that attack with the vehicle and then develop a fear of driving in case they should have another attack. 

Overcoming Vehophobia

The great news is that Vehophobia, like any other phobia, can be completely overcome. It is vital to address and alter your perception of the events that created your phobia in the first place as well as to learn the facts.

When you start to change your perception of driving you will change how you feel. Evidence to help you accept that you have created incorrect learning is an important component in overcoming your fear. 

We have put together some top tips to help you get started on conquering your phobia.

  1. Change your perspective. If your fear was caused by an accident, it is important to acknowledge that you survived. Also, realise that it most probably wasn’t the car that caused the accident and it might not even have been you. Recognise that the behaviour you have created to keep you safe is in fact stopping you from living a happy and fulfilling life.
  2. Consider an analogy. Imagine you are slicing a loaf of bread and you cut your finger. Now, are you going to blame the knife? No, you realise that it was just an accident. The normal reaction would be to bandage the cut and continue slicing.
  3. Consider the purpose of a car. It is a means of getting to a destination and is essentially a protective shell with an engine. Its purpose is to serve you and take you wherever you drive it.
  4. Panic attacks. If your fear of driving is a result of having a panic attack whilst in a car, know that the panic attack had nothing to do with the car. A panic attack is a protection from a perceived danger, so ask yourself, what was the danger when you had the panic attack?
  5. Confidence. If you have lost confidence in your driving abilities, consider how you got your license in the first place. You took a test where someone with exceptional experience sat with you, and after judging your ability they decided that you were fit and safe to drive. If that doesn’t make you feel better, consider having some refresher lessons to give you a bit more confidence and to remind you of your ability.
  6. Visualise. Picture yourself driving confidently in your mind. Imagine opening the door, fastening your seatbelt and starting the engine. Then pulling away and driving along the road. Imagine the feel of the driving seat and the steering wheel. Now trace in your thoughts the journey from start to finish. This will help to build your self-esteem and confidence in driving once more. If you have not driven for a while, start with short trips and celebrate when you get to your destination. If you feel better taking your first trips on your own then do that. If you prefer having someone with you, do that instead.
  7. Positive vibes. Music is really emotive and stimulating, so prepare some music that you find empowering and listen to it in the car.

Living with vehophobia can be extremely challenging, however, you are not alone. Here at Trauma Research UK, our belief is, ‘it’s not what’s wrong with you, it’s what happened to you’. With this philosophy, we believe that everyone can successfully overcome their mental health issues if given the right help and support. Read more…