As somebody who had suffered from agoraphobia for many years driving was always going to be a problem for me. Not surprisingly I wouldn’t venture far at all by car and sometimes wondered whether there was much point in me even having a car. However I eventually managed to overcome my fear of driving thanks to a product called The Driving Fear Program.
However many people suffer from a fear of driving as a specific phobia meaning that they don’t have any other panic or anxiety problems. They can go about their daily lives without problem, until they get behind the wheel of their car that is. At the root cause of their driving phobia they may have previously been involved in an accident. Maybe they had been nervous from their very first lesson and simply never built up enough confidence to banish their driving nerves.
Some drivers only experience driving anxiety in certain situations whilst others are nervous as soon as they turn on the ignition. Some people will fear getting lost whilst driving, they may fear breaking down and becoming stranded or simply can’t stand the thought of being stuck in a traffic jam with no means of escape. Some people even have a fear of driving over bridges.
Whatever the cause it will have left lasting damage on your confidence while driving. The beliefs that have been programmed into your mind through the repetition of experiencing anxiety when you drive can be undone and replaced with a new set of beliefs. Feeling anxious whilst driving will have become a conditioned response because at some subconscious level you associate driving with feeling anxious and that is enough to bring on the driving anxiety. It is very likely that whatever the experience was that caused the driving phobia in the first place has long since been forgotten but its effects are still overwhelming. Maybe it will only be triggered in certain driving such as being in busy fast moving traffic or when you have travelled a long distance from home.
Every single phobia has its own name and driving phobia is no different, it is called hodophobia. However the meaning of hodophobia is rather broader than just driving as it can also be used to define a fear of travelling. Indeed many people with driving phobias don’t even have to be the one driving the car, they may simply be passengers.
All forms of anxiety regardless of whether they are related to driving or not have the same root cause. They are caused by the triggering of the fight or flight response as a reaction to situations that are perceived to be dangerous when in actual fact they aren’t. You just think they are dangerous and this causes an inappropriate flight or fight reaction. It’s a perfectly natural process to genuine danger, but driving phobias cause the person to perceive any situation as life threatening. This is where the problem lies. Every time you drive and you experience anxiety you end reinforcing your belief that driving is dangerous and on it goes. I was able to overcome my fear of driving by changing the beliefs that triggered my anxiety whilst driving.
Remember what you experience in your body and mind whilst experiencing anxiety cannot harm you. You body is simply preparing itself to flee from danger or to stand and fight. It cannot harm you no matter how unpleasant and scary it feels. Driving anxiety like any other form of anxiety is a behavioural problem that you have learned overtime. There is nothing wrong with you as it is just a way that you have been conditioned by your experiences to respond. You can unlearn these behaviour and patterns and when you have done so there will be nothing left to trigger your anxiety.
This is how I managed to overcome my fear of driving. You can learn to do the same with the techniques taught by Rich Presta in The Driving Fear Program.