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If you have been involved in an automobile collision, it is perfectly normal to experience anxiety about driving again. This can be true whether you caused the accident or were the victim of a collision. For people who experience driving anxiety, just sitting in the driver’s seat can cause a number of unpleasant symptoms, from elevated heartbeat, sweating or even a full-blown panic attack. These symptoms can be extremely disruptive to your daily life, especially if you need to drive daily for your commute to work or if you need to drive for family obligations. Fortunately, there are ways to overcome diving anxiety. Here are seven tips to help you reclaim your confidence as a driver.
1. Start As A Passenger
One of the most anxiety-inducing aspects of driving is the fact that you are in control of a powerful vehicle, responsible not only for yourself and your fellow passengers, but for other individuals on the road as well. Start by acclimating yourself gradually by letting a trusted friend take you on a drive around town. This can help you get used to being in a vehicle again without the pressure of driving.
2. Get Behind The Wheel As Soon As Possible
Although easing back behind the driver’s seat can be wise, you do not want to wait too long before you start driving again. The longer you wait, the harder it can be to overcome your natural fears and anxieties. As soon as you process the trauma of your accident, start making a plan to reclaim your place on the road.
3. Drive In A Quiet Neighborhood
When you feel ready to drive solo again, start slow. Drive in a quiet neighborhood where you feel comfortable. Some people start off in a parking lot, just to readjust to the experience of driving. You might also ask a close friend or family member to ride along with you so that you have someone who is willing to help you talk about and process your anxieties. Only after you feel comfortable driving in an area with minimal traffic should you approach busy areas and highways.
4. Invest In A Safer Vehicle and Make Safe Choices
Investing in a safer vehicle can also instill confidence. If you are in the market for a new automobile, research safety ratings and crash survivability statistics. Even if you cannot afford a brand new vehicle at this time, there are ways to make sure your current car is as safe as possible. Check with your vehicle’s manufacturer to make sure there are no important recalls that could impact the safety of your car. Additionally, make sure that you are taking basic steps to be a safe driver. Always wear your safety belt, even on short drives. Leave plenty of time to reach your destination so that you are not tempted to drive at dangerous speeds. Finally, avoid common behaviors that lead to distracted driving, such as listening to loud music or adjusting music or navigation systems.
5. Consult A Professional Therapist
If you are still struggling to overcome your diving anxiety, there is no shame in seeking professional help. A psychiatric professional can help you work through some of the fears that prevent you from driving and a psychologist can help with prescription medications that make anxiety more manageable. Depending on the severity of the accident that caused the trauma, professional help might be a wise first step. Some communities have limited mental health resources and there can be an extended wait period before you are able to see a therapist for the first time. You might find it helpful to make an appointment, even if you have not officially decided whether or not to get help from a professional.
6. Work With A Driving Instructor
Driving instructors do much more than just teach people the general skills needed to drive. Some specialty instructors help their students overcome driving fears, whether those fears are general anxieties about driving or related to more specific activities such as driving in traffic or across bridges. Driving instructors can also help you work on your defensive driving skills so you improve your ability to anticipate situations and avoid collisions—even ones that might not be your fault.
7. Be Patient With Yourself
A car accident can be a horrific and life-changing event. While most people are able to overcome their trauma and regain confidence in their driving abilities, mastering anxiety is a process and each person processes trauma differently. Be patient during the healing process and allow yourself the freedom to recover at your own pace.
About The Author
Samantha Tung is a contributing writer and media specialist for Caliber Collision. She often contributes content for a variety of car safety blogs.