Why are there so many names for fear of driving? It has names like motorphobia as well as amaxophobia or ochlophobia. Well, there are a number of things about driving to be afraid of, if the act of driving isn’t enough on it’s own.
Sometimes it isn’t all that severe, just a few symptoms such as sweaty palms, shortness of breath and a dry mouth whenever you feel like you don’t know where you’re going. Doing things such as visiting new places involves concentration as a driver. Having passengers can make it twice as difficult to perform new tasks. If you feel a bit “mazed” it’s a good idea to find a safe place to take a break.
Then there are the stronger fears. It may be caused at special places like driving over a bridge, changing lanes or driving at night. They fear something bad happening. They may also avoid specific roads, especially if it is connected with an accident. Sometimes they continue to drive more or less normally but suffer discomfort and distress.
An accident for example may possibly mean that you cannot go out in the car again. In some severe cases being adjacent to, or proxy of, can trigger a panic attack. For example, it can also be caused by being in heavy traffic even when you aren’t the one driving. Or, an acquaintance being in an accident not witnessed by you. Or getting lost (especially in built up areas). In some extreme situations a person might be triggered even watching accidents on television.
Symptoms of amaxophobia include panic, confusion, palms sweating, and quickened heartbeat. It is always a possible to hyperventilate. They may attempt to apply brakes in the car while not actually driving – phantom braking, so a feeling that they aren’t in control and want to change things.
The treatment can include psychotherapy support or behaviour therapy. Having a fear of driving long term (presumably you continue driving) could lead to heart disease.
There may be a lack of understanding from your loved ones who just want a lift. Other people who may lack sympathy could possibly be your employers as many jobs require you to drive. So, your driving phobia could prove costly in the long run as it limit what you can do.
For all these reasons, it’s important to seek help as quickly as possible. Ultimately the best treatment seems to be going back to driving.
Other driving tips:
Other helpful tips are to drive during the day only and have someone with you as much as possible. You may find medication or support groups on phobia could help. Therapy may help get rid of the panic and negative thoughts. A more modern treatment is virtual reality, a type of exposure therapy in a simulated world. Performing the tasks you did in real life, but in a simulator could possibly boost your confidence.
When you return to the car it is worthwhile creating calmness in the car by soothing music, unless it’s at a point when you are tired in which case it’s a no-no. Also try to wear comfortable clothes and shoes. A business suit or similar may not encourage you and it’s likely that you will tense up.
It is unlikely that more experienced drivers will suffer from this condition, but they may do under enough pressure. Again, what is needed is a bit of sympathy if possible.