How I overcame my fear of driving

Author: Eddy warta

I was never a big risk taker; I wasn’t one of those kids you see all the time who seem to not understand the concept of getting hurt, always running straight into danger smiling and laughing. But I was usually a pretty calm and normal child, EXCEPT when it came to cars… I always had this subtle fear of driving. I would drive around with my parents a lot with this feeling of uneasiness, always looking at the road waiting for the accident to happen.

What made matters a lot worse, is that when I was 16 and finally ready to get my license (despite the fear, I was excited about getting my license because the concept of being independent, being able to go wherever and whenever I please sounded good enough to surpass my anxieties). I took some lessons, and in one of those lessons, I saw a child running fast towards the car from the sidewalk. He was planning to stop (I think), but nevertheless I freaked out! I swerved to the left and got hit by a car driving in the opposite lane (the car was wrecked, but mostly minor injuries).

For a long time after that, I simply couldn’t get back into a car, the thought alone terrified me and I just accepted the fact that driving is not going to be one of the things I can do.

But after a few years living completely dependent on rides from friends, public  transportation, and my good old rusty bicycle, I finally decided enough is enough, there was a point when I realized I couldn’t let fear control my life any longer, and I had to get back to driving.

I bought a book about how to deal with driving anxiety, which had some really helpful tips like breathing exercises and visualizations you can do, and I started small… a drive around the block with my wife next to me, then alone, then I started driving further outside the neighborhood, and eventually I got to a point where I now drive freely to work and back every day, through a very busy and hectic freeway.

I’m not saying I love driving now… I still would rather have my wife or someone else do the driving if at all possible, but the point is I can! And the reason I wanted to write this is because for a long time I was very embarrassed, I always excused myself by saying I hate driving, as opposed to being afraid of it, and I accepted this situation as a given.

But the truth is driving phobia, or whatever you want to call it is a known common problem and there are ways to get over it! Maybe my way isn’t right for you, maybe your problem is more severe and you need to go to a therapist for it, or whatever, but DONT accept it as a given problem, because life is so much better when you conquer your fear!

For more info about overcoming the anxieties of driving see: “Overcome Your Fear Of Driving” by Rich Presta, world renown self improvement coach and best selling author.

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6 Responses to How I overcame my fear of driving

  1. devon lerner says:

    I really enjoyed reading this, though i do think my anxiety might take something more serious than self motivation to get me behind a wheel again (i was also involved in a terrible accident last year).

  2. Natasha says:

    I’m afraid of driving. I have a license, for several years now but I only got to drive very little, and usually with someone next to me who always bothers me about every little thing. Until now it wasn’t a problem, I took buses, sometimes cabs, and it was easy to put the responsibility on someone else. But now that I’m a mother it is becoming very troubling to take long drives and it’s a waste of my time. And cabs aren’t cheap. So now I have to get to mothers meetings all the time which are far away from my house… anyway I was thinking about all the options and I think if I was driving it would be more easy. From a lot of reasons. But I am really afraid. I feel like this is bringing danger in the house. Because if I drive with my son next to me and he complains I will not be focused on driving and even if I am focused im scared because there are so many accidents and I’m afraid something bad could happen. What if something happens to my son? Who will take care of him? I cannot afford something happening to me for as long as he is depending on me. I’m on the edge of doing something about it, I’m just very afraid.. does anyone have any suggestions? Or comments in general?

    • Jenny says:

      I know EXACTLY where you’re coming from!!! After getting my license I drove maybe 5-6 times, and always hesitantly with a beginners confidence, with my husband by my side always berating me and joking how bad a driver I am. And then I just stopped driving for 3 years. Luckily my friend Erica (a rather militant feminist) confronted me on it saying she is tired of seeing me so dependent on my husband, and suggested I become her driver for a while on small inner city drives. I experienced what it was like driving without a man by your side commenting you on every little thing, but with a woman giving you the feeling it is the most obvious thing in the world to be driving and that it’s ok. She gave me practical advice and corrected several major mistakes I was making, but in a non judgmental way that you can remember. After that I just took our car from time to time alone driving really slow, and very short trips, slowly increasing the length of the drives, but still never leaving the neighborhood. When I was pregnant I had the car to myself a lot, and we moved to a different neighborhood that forced me to sometimes go through highways to get to the city, I slowly regained the confidence to drive again and I am soooo happy this happened before the birth!
      My advice: don’t give up trying… drive, even if its for a very short time and length, without kids and with a friend that is calm and supportive. Its just a matter of a few driving hours until you get back your confidence!

      • Sandy says:

        : I also got a driving license and was afraid to drive. Driving was terrifying for me – like, almost everytime I got in a car was horrible… i always had like this sub conscious feeling that it’s a matter of time till I crash and hurt myself, and people with me.
        After I enlisted in the army my opportunities for driving were almost non existent, and so for about 5 years I didn’t even touch a steering wheel.
        recently, me and my husband got our own car and I’m slowly getting back into it, fortunately my husband Is not the sort of man like the ones described here.. he is really patient and just tought me driving from scratch (and a lot more). I’m still afraid in a way, but now I drive a lot better and with a lot more confidence. I’ll try giving some insights that have helped me and will hopefully help you too:
        first off- if you’re anything like me and feel like it’s hard to divide your attention don’t settle and go for an automatic gear, this was really helpful for me because it allowed me to remove one thing from the list of things I need to think about and concentrate on driving alone.
        Drive only with someone who is patient and supportive. If you don’t have one take some driving lessons again (I understand this is very common and I’ve been thinking about it myself).
        Start with short familiar drives. For example I was in charge of the Sunday drive to his parent’s house. Slowly gain confidence and increase the range of your driving.
        Most importantly, drive as much as you can, even when you have that feeling in your gut that tells you I don’t want this and maybe I’ll do it another time, cause that’s the only way to practice and learn.
        Hope I helped 🙂

  3. colette says:

    I am an experienced driver and have not had a traumatic event that would be at the root of my problem. I do not suffer from panic attacks or breathing problems. The half dozen or so times I’ve a tough time driving seems to have been on sunny days. It’s as though getting the car up to speed and seeing the landscape roll past makes me very tense. The curious point is that it doesn’t happen with any frequency and catches me by surprise. I live in a rural area. I remember a few times the feeling came over me was where the trees break away from the highway to open the vista. Any suggestions? Aside from the obvious frustration, I have an elderly mother who depends on me.

  4. Christina says:

    I have never been a driver. My father was killed in a horrific accident. My mother thought I would also be in an accident. The fear has carried over. I will be 40 soon…
    I can’t stand it anymore. I am going to start by just sitting in the car. Maybe moving it up and down our long driveway. Hope it works………….

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