Fear of Driving After an Accident (Readers’ Questions Answered)

This is the first of several responses to the questions and concerns of visitors to this site. Each response will address common aspects of driving fear that have been expressed in the comments section and will direct you to more information that might be of help.

Fear of Driving After an Accident

Angelina wrote:

I have been afraid of driving even before I got to drive it started when I was only 15 my boyfriend was older and he had just got his car we went for a ride at night I think it was 2am doing about 70 or more I would say we came up on a 90′ turn and flipped landing on the hood in someone’s yard and it happened again when I was 17 with my Brother. Both times I wasn’t driving but now every time I get in the car I freeze like I have no control. My heart starts hurting and I get sick to my stomach. It’s frustrating I have 2 kids now and I feel so hopeless to be a mom like I should be for them. I really want to be there and drive them around, bring them to school or to a friend’s house. My body locks up it is so hard to even go down to the store less them a mile away. I don’t know what to do. I am afraid I will be like this forever.

Cassandra wrote:

Hi my name is Cassandra and when I was 15 I had a car wreck and flipped the blazer I was driving. I had three other people with me and they all had minor stuff happen to them thank God. I would never have been able to forgive myself if they would have been seriously injured. I on the other hand almost died and ever since I have had this fear of driving. That was about 6 years ago now. I don’t trust myself to drive and I don’t trust other people on the road either. I Have drove since the incident but I just get so nervous and feel like I’m going to cry. I want to get out of this fear so much because have to rely on other people for my transportation. This also makes me feel immature and stupid because I don’t drive. This fear has affected my life so much. I don’t know how to get over this! I need help.

Monica wrote:

I am terrified of being in cars. I have had a car crash caused by another driver which caused me to rollover three times and I remember vividly rolling over at times. The other driver didn’t even check to see if I was alive. I did wear a seatbelt and only got a minor cut to my arm. After that I tried riding a bicycle and another car crashed into me, failing to see me because of the sun. In that accident I got catapulted onto the windshield hurting my back. Now I take the bus which makes me feel safer. If I get in a car anything over 45 km/ hr makes me anxious and uncomfortable. I also tend to argue with drivers and give them driving instructions when I feel they are inattentive. It’s such a hardship!!!!! But I can’t even think about trying after so many failures. It’s not my driving that scares me- it’s other people’s driving that terrifies me, drunk drivers, people that text and drive or have conversations in the car.

OFD Answers

It’s normal to be afraid of driving after a car accident, but the truth is you are no more likely to be in another accident than any other driver. In fact, you may even be less likely to be in another accident simply because you are so much more aware than drivers who have never been in one.

There are two things for you to consider.

First, in two of your cases, the accidents occurred when you were young, inexperienced drivers. Statistics show that teenagers are more likely to be in accidents. But practice really does make perfect and you can learn from your experience.

The idea that you are not in control, whether or not you are driving the car, can be overcome. You can learn defensive driving techniques so you can feel a sense of control when you’re driving.

Another issue, as Monica mentioned, is being afraid of other drivers’ bad habits. The fact that you know exactly what bad habits to look for is a huge plus in your favor. Many people on the road do not pay attention to what other drivers are doing.

If you are aware, you have an advantage. You will be safer because you know what to avoid.

If you’re not driving, you may want to consider building trust between yourself and the people who are driving when you travel in a car.

Your family and friends will probably understand your fear and will not mind if you ask them questions about their own driving experiences that will lead you to feel safer when you get into a car with them.