If you have ever been in a car accident, you may now be afraid to drive for fear that you will be in an accident again, and this may be true, even if the accident was a relatively minor “fender bender.”
Accidents do happen. In fact, the odds of being in a minor car accident at some point are significant, but this should not scare you so much that you never want to drive again.
Think of it rationally for a moment: Have you ever bumped your knee or tripped while walking? Are you afraid to walk again?
With a little bit more rational thinking, you can use statistics to see even more clearly that the odds are on your side. Don’t worry just yet if you don’t feel convinced on an emotional level that this is true.
If you have already been in a car accident, the odds are actually slimmer that you will be in another one than they would be if you have never been in accident.
But either way, your odds of being seriously injured or killed in a car accident are actually no greater than the odds of being injured or killed by things you probably do not think about, including illness or being in some other kind of accident.
Another helpful way to think about the specific fear of driving due to a past accident is to realize that you’re your odds of being in an accident each time you drive is very, very small.
So rather than focusing on your general fear, focus on the fact that the odds are really very highly in your favor that you will be able to drive from one place to another this time without incident.
As you get more used to driving without fear, the fear will become less and less powerful. Eventually, you will be able to say that you have conquered your fear or moved past the experience of that car accident that is now in the past.
Getting Past The Fear
Of course, you have to get past the fear in the first place, and this is understandably difficult in the days and weeks following a car accident, especially if you were injured in some way. But you can get past the fear.
The first step is to own your fear. That is, admit that you are afraid instead of making excuses for why you don’t want to drive. Only when you have owned your fear can you take the necessary steps to conquer it.
Another way to put this is that you have to face your fear rather than run from it if you ever expect to get over it. When you are ready to conquer your fear, there are a number of things you can do. You can:
➠ Learn to think different about the fear (as we have just discussed)
➠ Practice relaxation techniques to calm your anxiety about driving in general
➠ Talk to a professional counselor or join a support group
➠ Find self-help resources that can help you move past the fear
Using Relaxation Techniques To Overcome Your Fear Of Driving Due To Past Accidents
There are a few types of relaxation exercises that can be very helpful in dealing with a fear of driving if you have been in an accident in the past. Examples include visualization, meditation and hypnosis.
1. Visualize The Outcome You Want
Visualization is actually a form of meditation in which you visualize yourself in a specific situation or scenario.
In this case, you will want to visualize driving somewhere and arriving safely while feeling relaxed throughout the entire trip. It might look something like this.
➠ Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.
➠ Picture yourself getting ready to drive somewhere. Where are you going? What will it be like when you get there?
It will probably be more useful in the beginning to visualize yourself going to a place that you want to go to and will enjoy being at rather than running an errand or driving to work!
➠ Imagine that you get into the car and settle comfortably behind the wheel. You turn on the radio and play your favorite music. You start the car and prepare for your journey.
➠ Along the way, traffic moves smoothly and you feel calm and at ease. Perhaps you need to slow down or yield to another driver at some point, but this occurs without incident.
➠ You feel a sense of pride and accomplishment in your ability to drive in this situation, and you arrive at your destination safely.
After you have used a visualization exercise like this one for a period of time, you might want to change it up and add a few challenges. Perhaps traffic is especially heavy or someone tries to cut you off.
The trick is to do the visualization with the added challenge, but still envision a positive outcome.
You are able to handle the traffic, yield to the person trying to cut you off (or avoid being cut off) and still drive without feeling a lot of anxiety, finally arriving safely at your destination.
2. Develop A Regular Meditation Practice Or Practice Other Relaxation Techniques
If regular meditation is not for you, try a more physical relaxation practice like yoga or taking a daily walk in a peaceful setting. Doing these exercises will help you clear your head and reduce your overall level of anxiety.
3. Get Hypnotized
Hypnosis is nothing more than guided visualization that addresses a specific challenge.
If you aren’t able to do visualization exercises successfully on your own, you might be able to find a hypnotherapist or hypnosis recording that deals with fear of driving in general and/or fear of driving due to past accidents in particular.
4. Seek Professional Help If You Need It
There is no shame in turning to a professional for help with a problem like overcoming a fear of driving due to past accidents.
If you’ve tried the suggestions here and still cannot deal with your fear, perhaps you need to talk to someone who can help get at the underlying issues that may be keeping you from moving past your anxiety about driving.
One-on-one behavioral therapy is usually effective in dealing with such fears. You might also benefit from hearing from others who have the same fear.
There are support groups for anxiety disorders, and you may be able to find a group that deals specifically with driving fear.
The group should be guided by an experienced facilitator who can help all of its members address the problem. At the same time, knowing that you’re not alone in your fear can help reduce any resistance you may have to facing the fear to begin with.
Self Help Programs
Self help programs can be used in conjunction with professional help or as a kind of “maintenance” that keeps you from relapsing after you are no longer attending formal individual or group therapy sessions.
There are many books, CDs and DVDs that deal with anxiety disorders in general and fears, like the fear of driving due to past accidents, in particular.
You can also try self-help programs before contacting a professional, but be sure to seek professional help if you find that you continue to struggle with your fear after a reasonable amount of time.
One program that has helped many people overcome anxiety about driving is The Original Driving Fear Program.
This guide is a comprehensive tool to dealing with any situation that compromises your ability to get behind the wheel of a car, including the fear of driving due to past accidents.