If you’re afraid of getting behind the wheel, science may have some answers to help you learn how to overcome the fear of driving.

I’m not afraid of driving, well mostly. However, my mother was terrified of driving. Apparently, she almost drove off a bridge in her early years.

This horrific experience created a phobia for her, and she never got behind the wheel of an automobile again. No matter how many times my father tried to help her, she never managed to overcome her fear of driving and try. From then on, everywhere she desired to go, someone in the family had to take her.

Is this the only way to catch a fear of driving?

While past accidents can cause a fear of driving, there are many other reasons as well. If you’ve learned how to overcome terrifying feelings when driving, then you may understand what started the fear.

Honestly, you can have a fear of driving from the idea of traveling to a new location. You can also have a fear of driving from an already existing anxiety disorder. For some people, driving alone can be the solitary reason for this phobia. Yes, it can be that simple.

9 science-backed ways to overcome the fear of driving

I have good news for you today. You can overcome that horrid fear of driving. In fact, there are many ways you can do this. So, without further delay, here are ways you can kill that pestering phobia and get back to a normal life.

1. Do it again, as soon as you can

Many people understand the saying, “If you fall down, just pick yourself back up”. We understand this saying and we try to practice this in many areas of our lives in order to be successful. It’s the same with driving.

If you have an accident, it’s best to get right back to driving as soon as you have a good mode of transportation. This is because the longer you wait, the harder it will be to try again. In my mother’s case, she never gave it another chance, and eventually forgot about driving altogether. We should never do this.

2. Positive affirmations

When you have a fear of driving, you can use positive statements to not only calm you but remind you of how safe you felt before – this is in case you’ve experienced an accident.

For others who fear driving, these positive affirmations can quell simple fears by telling you things like, “You’re driving the speed limit and you’re driving just fine”, or “Driving is common and I should not be afraid.”

Yes, it may take a while to utilize these affirmations effectively, but you can do it.

3. Understand your anxieties

If you are prone to panic attacks when doing something scary, then your fear of driving can invoke these attacks. So, with that being said, you must know what triggers these attacks and understand the level of your attacks.

For instance, if you feel like you are moving up the scale of your anxiety at a fast pace, you should pull the car onto the side of the road. I have actually had to do this before, but it was not because of a fear of driving. I just happened to be driving when my anxiety went full-throttle.

But anxieties caused by driving can accelerate much faster and you have to understand the triggers to keep yourself safe while driving.

4. Create comfort

Before you even start driving, make sure you are comfortable in your car. Learning the ways to overcome your driving fear starts with a clean, soothing, and well-functioning vehicle. All these things must be taken into account before cranking the car, such as car insurance and preventive maintenance.

Maybe you drive better with soft music, or maybe not. This will depend on what makes you comfortable. Sometimes soft music calms nerves and even drowns out the noise of traffic.

If you feel more comfortable driving alone, then try that first. Unlike some people who rather drive with someone, there are others who find noisy people in the back seat to be distracting. Whatever’s best for you.

5. Visualize the trip

Let’s say you’ve decided to try and take a small trip to the store. Maybe you’ve decided to try and face your fears – no promises here, you say. Well, here’s what you can do in this instance.

First, imagine the experience step by step. Imagine opening the door and stepping inside your car. You sit down and put the keys in the ignition. So far so good, right?

Now, as you imagine pulling onto the roadway, think of every problem that could happen, and find a way to overcoming that problem quickly. Maybe it was one of these situations that caused your phobia to begin with. Face it head-on and develop a strategy to avoid that situation the next to go around.

6. Follow progressive steps

Now that you’ve visualized the steps to getting back behind the wheel, you can try these in a progressive order. First, go out and sit in your car, then put the keys in the ignition.

Now, crank the engine and wait for a moment, listening to the sound of the engine. Now, drive around a short block and back home. Take someone with you now, and drive around several blocks.

Then do it on your own. You can practice this with bridges, then long bridges. After that, you can drive on unfamiliar roads and even on bridges over water.

Finally, you can muster up the bravery to drive on the big freeways. After you’ve mastered all that, you may even be able to drive in the rain or at night. Just take it slowly and try these steps.

7. Take lessons

It’s never too late to take driver’s lessons. These instructors can help you work through fears, and also teach you things you may have forgotten.

It’s okay to ask questions which can clarify concerns. It’s also okay to share the fact that you are afraid of driving. They can help you face these fears and learn how to get over driving phobias.

8. Get help

Also, if your fear is disrupting your life, you will have to seek professional help. Maybe the panic attacks are coming too often, or you just refuse to get into the car for any reason. If you live alone, this could become a huge problem. You have to get help in some way.

Here’s where to start: First seek help from your regular doctor. Tell them what’s going on and they can point you toward the right professional help. This could mean speaking to a psychologist to get to the bottom of your phobias.

9. Try a support group

Why should you join a support group with other frightened people? Well, although it may sound strange, it’s a good thing. Being around others who are afraid to drive will make you feel less alone.

You can discuss triggers and anxious feelings in an environment where you are understood. You can make friends as well, and you can help each other remove phobia obstacles.

Driving isn’t all that bad

Yes, learning how to overcome the fear of driving is sometimes difficult. It can take you back to the point of an accident – hey, many of us have experienced an automobile collision, it can trigger feelings from the past, or it can simply arise because you’re new to driving.

Whatever the cause of your phobia, it can be faced with courage. If you’re afraid to drive, don’t give up. Remember, you can do anything you put your mind to.


  1. https://www.psychologytoday.com
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com

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