How to Get Over the Fear of Driving at Night

fear of driving at night

You can be the most competent driver in the world, and think you can conquer anything. But even for those people who are usually calm and collected when driving, some of us find driving at night can be very challenging and sometimes even intimidating. It’s no wonder though; Our eyes are not made to function properly in the dark like they do in the daytime. Some people suffer visibility problems as well and this makes the fear of driving at night a cumbersome one. Besides that, there is something about night driving that isn’t just about fear of driving at night alone.

Night time brings with it a different type of anxiety, which worsens when you have to drive at night especially if you are not a night crawler in the first place. Whether we blame horror movies or video games, most people tend to be more on edge when it’s dark. The quiet feels ominous, the night makes it harder to see, and for some reason, we associate darkness with something bad happening around every corner.

Darkness enhances anxiety and stress levels because, in our subconscious mind, we have this fear that a potential danger might just be lurking in the corner. We can understand this mentality with people who suffer from night blindness, but if you are one of those who is simply afraid of driving at night without any alternative reason to be, then this article is for you.

difficulty driving at night

You may be wondering if you’re alone, and have asked other people around you how to drive in the dark. Don’t worry. I have compiled a list of the top 6 things people get anxious about when it comes to driving in the dark and will tell you the most effective ways to battle these fears.

1. Fear of Driving at Night – Fear of Being Attacked

The fear of being attacked, often associated with forms of agoraphobia and OCD, is a distinct feeling that some bad people might be waiting to attack you somewhere and there will be no one to come to your rescue. This is actually a common fear people have when driving at night. The anxious feeling mostly shows itself in a way that people expect a speeding car to be coming towards them from every single angle imaginable. Whilst it can be good

Whilst it can be good to be prepared for the worst when you’re driving, if this fear of driving in the dark stops you from going out after the sun goes under completely, you could have a serious problem.

It is important not to give in to this fear. Deep down, you know no one is out there to get you. Accidents can happen, but even in your most anxious moments, you realise no one is coming for you on purpose. If your fear is anywhere related to this, you have to keep trying to repeat these thoughts to yourself. ‘I know no one is waiting to attack me. It’s just my mind playing games with me’. If this does not work, it might be advisable to see a therapist or doctor, as your fear could have deeper roots than you and I might be able to diagnose.

2. Fear of Driving at Night – Fear of Car Accidents

The fear of car accidents is the second most common fear people have when it comes to having difficulty driving at night. While this fear is not exclusive to driving in the dark, it is understandable for this fear to worsen because not everyone can see properly at night. Even if your eyesight in the dark is perfect, you will never know what the person coming towards you can see. For example: Nighttime can make it harder for you to judge someone else’s speed, and as a result, it can also make it harder for other drivers to judge yours. If that is not a reason to become anxious, I don’t know what is.

The real way to get over this fear is to take your time.  Adjust your speed according to the road conditions. Aside from visibility, this also includes weather conditions like rain or even snow. Try to become a defensive driver, something we have discussed a few times in other articles. Anticipate what the traffic around you might do and make your decisions based on staying safe. Generally, your chances of survival even if you have an accident are high, especially if you adjust your speed to what you feel comfortable with. But don’t bother so much about accidents. Try and focus your mind on any pleasant situation you can think of.

3. Fear of Driving at Night – Fear of Hitting People or Animals

The fear or hitting people or animals with your car is closely related to the fear of car accidents. Driving at night always calls for extra care. Animals can jump out onto the road without warning, and how about that person jogging on the pavement, with his earphones in, wearing all-black clothing?

Fear of Driving in the Dark

Again, being a defensive driver is the main solution here. Identifying potential hazards is incredibly important, and the IPDE defensive driving formula is ideal for people like yourself. Driving along a quiet dark road, cars parked alongside, where do you think the main hazards are? Exactly, your main problem zones are the spaces between the parked cars. Adjust your speed accordingly, keeping an eye out for movement between the cars and on the pavement. Expect that if you see someone, they could at any moment want to try to spare your space on the road.

Once you identify potential problems early, you are halfway there getting over your fear of driving at night. You are now in control of your drive, something you were not before.

4. Fear of Driving at Night – Fear of Getting Lost

We’ve all been there at one point or another. We ended up somewhere we did not expect to be and we are lost. Many people have an unconscious fear of being out of control, and getting lost is a prime example of that. Naturally, this fear is enhanced when it is dark, so you may be confusing your fear with a difficulty driving at night.

Preparation is the name of the game. If you are called out somewhere or you are going to an unfamiliar place and you do not know the area, it is extremely advisable to have a look before you set off. Look up the route you are about to take. What obstacles do you face along the way? Also, have a look at your destination. What is the area like once you get closer to where you need to be? Where are you planning to park? Prepare for your journey and your anxious feelings will soon disappear.

If you still get lost, what are your options? Asking someone or phoning a friend may seem like perfect solutions to your problem. There is always a friendly Samaritan willing to help you out and show you where you need to go.

5. Fear of Driving at Night – Fear of Breakdowns

A vehicle breakdown is one of the worst things to happen at any time. At the first instance you may panic, what do you need to do now? You phone roadside assistance and then it takes a long time for someone to arrive to finally help you. The thought of this happening during daytime is terrible, but for someone with a fear of driving in the dark, this scenario is simply terrifying.

The fear of breakdowns is real. There is no guarantee that your car is always in a  perfectly good condition. And even if it was, something can always happen and you cannot guarantee you will never break down. The best you can do is making sure your car is up to date with services, fix all issues as soon as you find them and drive in a way that brings the least stress on your car.

The key here is to try and not focus on this doomsday scenario. Your vehicle was fine last night. Why would it not be today? Try and stay positive. Listen to some happy music. You will see that your car will be just fine.

6. Fear of Driving at Night – Fear of Not Seeing Clearly Even With Your Glasses On

The fear of not being able to see clearly is a common phobia, especially with people that wear glasses. It can be challenging to see at night, and if you can’t see, you are bound to make mistakes from time to time. Some glasses, even prescribed ones, do not take into account driving at night and are not really made for this purpose. It might be challenging to drive with them in the best of times. The situation becomes worse if the driver on the opposite lane or behind has harsh eye-blinding headlights that seem to be on a mission to get you knocked out.

scared of driving at night

To avoid this from happening, it is important firstly to slow down. Do not drive any faster than you are comfortable with. It could be worth looking into special night vision glasses for driving, or even anti-glare glasses for night driving. If you get blinded by the driver behind you, it can help to bend your rearview mirror away. Most car brands have got a setting to turn the mirror down. You will still be able to see, but the worst of the headlights are now gone. If you get blinded by lights in front of you, if it’s not in the same lane as you are (Which they shouldn’t be), then allow a moment for the vehicle to pass and slow down while at it.

As a rule of thumb, for more comfortable night driving, always maintain a speed you can comfortably manage regardless of what the maximum speed limit is. Most accidents happen at night and the critical cases are usually those that were on high speed. Hopefully, all these tips will reduce your fear of driving at night. Soon you will see there is nothing to be afraid of!

 

How to Overcome Your Fear of Car Accidents

Fear of Car Accidents

Do you ever feel your heart thumping aggressively when you are on the road? As soon as a vehicle approaches you, your mind jumps to the worst-case scenario, that is, an accident will occur. While some of you can link such a feeling to a past experience or trauma, others might not be able to understand where their fear of car accidents really comes from.

We can’t blame you for either scenario. After all, it takes all the courage in the world to put yourself in a position that previously caused you harm. When you think about how many car accidents occur daily, you have to wonder why most other people do not suffer from the same fears like you do.

What Is the Fear of Car Accidents?

The fear of car accidents does not only include the inability to get yourself in the driving seat after you have experienced an auto accident. Instead, it manifests in a wide array of emotions, which might seem normal and reasonable at first, but with their persistence over time, you might realize that these feelings are stopping you from using your precious car as much as you would like to. Feelings like this can range from shock to nervousness to guilt. You keep dreaming of the incident and can’t seem to get it out of your head every time you are driving in a car. You fidget when a vehicle approaches you and can feel a panic attack in the making whenever you think about being in the driver’s seat.

Such a fear of being in a car accident is a form of post-traumatic stress. It doesn’t matter how grievous or insignificant the accident was; it is a car accident trauma that you have a tough time getting your head around.

fear of driving after car accident

Here are some of the signs which signify that you are suffering from a fear of driving after car accidents:

  • You feel uneasiness and discomfort set in every time you have to make a road trip.
  • You experience anxiety regardless of whether you are in the passenger or driving seat.
  • You wish to avoid having procedures or medical tests done on you. Similarly, you are unable to openly admit to the fear.
  • Nightmares about the unfortunate event haunt you, leading to sleepless nights and endless worry.
  • You have a feeling of detachment to those around you.

While fear of driving after car accidents is explainable to some extent, others find themselves avoiding driving cars even though they have not witnessed such grave incidents. If you are one of these people, the chances are that you are afraid of all kinds of accidents and suffer from a condition called dystychiphobia. Dystychiphobia is the medical term which is referred to as the general fear of accidents. This fear encompasses car accidents, climbing ladders, or anything that can put you in harm’s way. The fact that this condition is treatable means that if you have a fear of car accidents, with time and effort, you can go back to driving like a pro as well.

Where Does the Anxiety Come From?

A common symptom in those who have a fear of driving after a car accident is anxiety. While everyone gets anxious at some points in their life, extreme anxiety is known to be detrimental to health as it renders a person incapable of enjoying their life to the maximum.

Even if you do not suffer from anxiety generally, if you have been in a car crash, getting anxious is one of the many things you will be required to overcome. This anxiety stems your mind, internalizing the traumatic event and causing your body to release adrenaline and get into the fight or flight mode every time something triggers the memory. These triggers can be as innocuous as being in a car which takes a turn similar to the one you took when you were in a car accident or as severe as being in the driver’s seat for the first time after the incident. Regardless of what the trigger is, anxiety and panic attacks are likely to plague your life if you develop a fear of car accidents unless you do everything you can to overcome and control your fears.

anxiety after car accident

How to Overcome This Fear

While you might feel that there is no way to beat the depressing feeling and post-traumatic stress, the truth is that there is always a way to recovery. Now, this path may not always be easy or show results at a fast pace, but this does not mean that such methods are futile. For those of you who suffer from the fear of driving after a car accident, here are a few ways which might help you combat the problem.

Talk It Out

For all kinds of post-traumatic stress disorders, communicating your feelings is the key to recovery. Botting all of your emotions up inside and putting on a brave front on the outside might do you more harm than good. This is because doing so paves the way for internalizing the event, which then comes to haunt you at unexpected times.

For this reason it is integral for you to talk it out with someone. Whether it be a friend, relative or counselor, you require external assistance if you wish to get rid of the fear. It might be hard for you, but make sure that you tell someone all the details about the car accident. Confide in them about how you felt and how the situation makes you feel currently.

Talk about how you acted after the incident occurred and how you feel your actions are different ever since. By spelling It all out, you will receive clarity about your feelings and will be able to come to terms with the event.

Try to Resume Your Life

Once you undergo a traffic accident, you will find yourself shaping your activities and life around the event, whether it is avoiding certain roads or choosing not to drive altogether. Every time a chore requires you to travel some distance, you may start to think of ways to reach your destination which will not require the need of a car or you decide to skip the task altogether, justifying your action by telling yourself that it is not important to begin with.

While it may be understandable to plan your activities around an event or walk on eggshells for some time, it is crucial that you take steps to resume your life. Start slowly. First, force yourself to be in a car, even if you ride in the passenger seat and do so for a few minutes. Take baby steps and gradually progress to being behind the wheel.

Be a Defensive Driver

Try to pinpoint why an accident occurred in the first place. Was it your fault? Could you have avoided the damage had you been more careful? Were you being reckless? If the answer to any question is in the affirmative, you should tackle your fear by learning to be a defensive driver.

defensive driving techniques

Go back to the basics and see how you can improve your driving skills. Always wear your seatbelts, and make an effort to avoid distractions like texting and eating while on the road. Once you have mastered the defensive driving techniques, you are bound to feel safer which will translate into your fear of car accidents seeping away into nothingness. If you are serious about defensive driving, there are many courses available to help you.

Begin with Daytime Driving

Getting back on the road after a car accident is tough enough without having to do it when darkness engulfs your surroundings. Driving during the night proves to be challenging even for seasoned and confident drivers at times. Hence, we can imagine how tough it will be for you if you have recently totaled your car.

To reinstate your confidence, make sure you begin with driving during the day. This is because during the day, there are fewer chances of you coming face to face with ambiguous situations like the inability to see properly. Practice during the day and once you have regained your confidence and have overcome your fear, you can resume with your night adventures.

Love Yourself

It is easy to play the blame game and feel guilty about the incident. For those of you who are plagued with such emotions, you might find yourself in a situation where you let yourself go. This is not the way to go about it.

Once an accident has occurred, regardless of whether you are at fault, you need to learn to love yourself again. Take care of your diet. Exercise daily. Mingle with your friends. Don’t isolate yourself from others. These measures will allow you to feel better about the situation as well as ensure that you don’t feel detached from yourself and your surroundings, which is a classic symptom of post-traumatic stress.

Conclusion

All in all, overcoming the fear of car accidents might feel like an impossible feat initially, but rest assured that recovery is not only possible but also quite easy if you set your heart and mind to it. Don’t let an incident define you. Overcome your fear of car accidents, and be the best version of yourself.

How to Control Panic Attacks While Driving

how to control panic attacks while driving

If you have a lot of anxiety in the car that leads to panic attacks, you might want to find out how to control your panic attacks while driving. Panic attacks can be terrifying and overwhelming in themselves. If they happen while you are driving a car, you may find yourself in situations where you have had to pull over and found it difficult to calm yourself down again. You may even wonder why you seem to panic so much while other people seem so calm and collected when driving. The truth is that many people pretend to be calm while driving but in reality, they are not and they feel the same anxiety as you do.

We have discussed many driving fears and types of anxiety on this website before, but for once, we can boldly say that fear is not always a bad thing. I know this sounds strange and you may jump to the wrong conclusion and leave this page before I explain further, so wait!

Fear, especially when driving can actually be a good thing because it serves as a form of defense and keeps you alert all through the driving period. Being alert of possible dangers can be extremely beneficial in anticipating danger. You would agree that being alert while driving is more beneficial than the opposite. Now, this is not a reason to do nothing about your fears, and obviously to have fear escalate to panic attacks is far from pleasant, or helpful.

anxiety attack while driving

While a little fear can be good because it helps prepare you for any potential danger out there, when this fear or anxiety turns into full-blown panic attacks, then it’s time to step the brakes on it and find out how to control panic attacks while driving. Panicking can hamper your efforts and could turn counterproductive. Instead of focusing so much on fear, try to focus on other things that can get your mind off the fear.

I will offer tips and tricks on how you can control panic attacks while driving. If you are wondering if this anxiety while driving will ever stop, then let me assure you that they absolutely can, and you could be driving without any problems in the future. It might take some practice and time, but you can learn how to deal with panic attacks better.

How to control panic attacks while driving has become a subject that gets searched for more and more in recent years. Before learning how to control it, it is important to understand what exactly a panic attack is. A panic attack is a situation where there is an onset of intense discomfort or fear that increases by each minute of suspense. It is often accompanied by the pounding of the heart, sweating, trembling, accelerated heart rate and maybe shortness of breath. You know the way you feel when exercising at the gym and you push your heart and lungs just that little bit too far? That is very similar to how panic attacks feel.

Fear, on the other hand, is perceived danger; the feeling that something bad is about to happen, which compels you to go into hiding, flee or freeze for some time. You can see that these two things are quite different. While I occasionally encourage a little fear to keep you alert and focused while driving, I certainly do not encourage panic attacks and it’s time we take a look at some ways of controlling them.

Learn to Recognise Your Panic Attacks While Driving

Most people feel panic attacks coming. Your heart rate will increase, your breathing may change to faster, but shorter breaths. You might even start to feel the chaos in your head spinning out of control. As simple as it sounds, a panic attack overwhelms you with different feelings, and it’s important to try and stay in control. You need to let the panic in your head know that your body is in charge of this situations. Your body may be trembling and getting all squirmy with fear, in the midst of the confusion, let your body know that you are the one with the sole right to tell it what to do. The good news here is that panic is ‘blind’. It fuels itself from what you feed it with.

panic attacks while driving

So, if your body gets a hint from you that driving is something to be afraid of, fear will start crippling in and before you know it, it could turn into panic attacks. Take deep breaths, and slowly exhale. Do this severally and watch your body and heart rate return back to normal. It is important to confront your fears and turn your panic into a victory, however small it may be. You will see that nothing bad is going to happen which will help prevent attacks in the future. Recognising your bodies signals will help a great deal in preventing panic attacks from happening in the first place.

Accept the panic

Yes, you read right. By trying to run away when you are having an anxiety attack while driving, you will only end up making the situation worse. It means you are denying that the fear is there. But when you have prepared your mind and sort of acknowledge that it is there, but that you are under control, you will find panic attack easier to manage. There is a chance that with time, over-familiarity will kill the panic attack since it can no longer surprise you with its presence.

Many sufferers from panic attacks adopt the attitude of “it’s fine”. I’ve heard people say “it happens”. I’ve seen people deny that it’s a major impact on their life. It is important to understand what your panic attacks are, and that you acknowledge that you have to try and control them, instead of running away.

Try counting backward

When having panic attacks, experts suggest counting backward as a way of occupying your brain. Since the last thing your brain is ready to do in the moment of panic attack is to think, counting back from 100, 99, 98, 97, etc will help you divert your fear to something else while your body gains control of the situation. I have personally had learner drivers recite their mother’s name backward, or do multiplications of 7.

Tips and tricks on how to control panic attacks while driving

  • Try squeezing the steering wheel tightly before letting go when caught up in a panic attack. Doing this a few times in a row will help you channel the anxiety out of your body. Repeat it as often as you need to before driving off.
  • Massage your forehead, chin, eyes, and temple. While doing so, you will notice tense muscles will start relaxing. It’s alright to repeat words like: ‘I’m going to be alright. There is nothing to be afraid of.’
  • The next thing you should do is to rotate your shoulders by rolling them anticlockwise and clockwise. After that, try twisting your head sideways. Then roll your shoulder blades backward in an effort to press the pair against each other. Repeat this process for at least 4 times and then relax. You can practice this before driving or while stuck in traffic.
  • Check to make sure you are not squeezing your buttocks together. If you are, try relaxing it. It is important to watch your posture and stop yourself from tensing up too much. Free your muscles up with little exercises and make yourself comfortable.

If you put these tricks and tips into practice, you will find that the thought of panic attacks will start diminishing. These processes can also work for other areas you may be experiencing panic attacks other than driving. If after trying these for a while you still suffer from panic attacks while driving, then you may have to revisit a doctor, driving school or therapist to get your driving (back) up to mark.

 

How to Get Over Fear of Driving on the Highway

fear of driving on the highway

If you’re reading this, then there is a good chance that you have a fear of driving on the highway that you are trying to overcome. Just the mere thought of big vehicles driving very close to one another is enough to give you the shivers. And it’s even worse if you get caught between vehicles all struggling to get ahead of one another, constantly switching lanes trying to reach their various destinations as quickly as possible without any regard for their surroundings.

Did you know that the fear of driving on the highway is said to be the most common types of fear people have while driving? One of the most common things I have heard from people coming to me for specific anxiety refresher driving lessons is that they are most afraid of the highway. The busy lanes, people moving around constantly, trucks everywhere and the higher speeds make the highway quite intimidating indeed. All over the internet, there are various forums that focus their discussions on driving anxiety. On forums like this, most of the fears people have and ask advice for are not from driving itself or failing their driving test, but the fear of driving on the highway.

As a driving instructor, I sympathize with you. I sometimes wish we could avoid highways all together for those that are struggling, but unfortunately, highways are as much a part of today’s driving as suburbs are. Except for those living in remote and reserved areas, there is no hiding from it. It’s one thing to pass your driving test and get your license, but when it comes to driving on highways, it becomes a different ball game. It doesn’t help that driving on the highway is not even an official part of learning to drive! Many driving instructors actively avoid taking their learner drivers onto the highway if they can.

But, wait. Is the issue really that serious? You bet it is.

How to get over fear of driving on the highway

Taking the above into account, it’s no wonder a lot of companies are making a huge amount of money teaching people how to get over the fear of driving on the highway. If you live in a major city, chances are that you must drive on highways almost every day of your life. Whether you are the one driving or a passenger, you just can’t avoid highways, and you shouldn’t! Once you master the higher speeds, merging and changing lanes and you no longer get anxious at the wheel highways actually become very useful.

The time is there to overcome your fear of highway driving. To make things easier for you, I have broken down the fear of driving on the highway in three major categories.

Fear of High Speeds

One aspect that makes many people shiver when they think about it, is the high speeds you are required to travel with on the highway. Driving on the highway is absolutely not the time to drive on low speeds. While it may seem comforting to reduce your speed, driving too slow could actually be more dangerous. You have to keep up with the demanding speed. But here is the good news; studies have found that Fear of high speeds is nothing but psychological. Taking note of this will help reduce that fear whenever it comes up.

Fear of High Speeds

Here are ways to help you get over the fear of high speeds:

  • Simply said, while your higher speed may look dangerous and you may feel obligated to do 70mph, there is no law that requires you to do such speeds. Obviously do not slow down so much that you create dangerous situations with other traffic having to overtake you left, right and center. but there is nothing to say you can’t drive a more comfortable 65mph and stick to the right-hand lane. Let those speedy devils around you do their own thing. So long as you are not obstructing people around you, there is no shame in just following a truck or bus ahead of you, provided you leave enough space in between.
  • Just like mentioned above; Feel free to stay in the right-hand lane for as long as possible if you have fear of high speed. By so doing, you will create space on the left for other drivers to drive past you. You will be able to slow down a bit because you have given other drivers a space to overtake you.
  • Anticipate traffic around you. Keep concentrated on what’s in front of you. Is the distance between the vehicle in front enough to allow for your braking distance? Take a glance into your mirror every few seconds. Is anybody looking to overtake you? If the answer is yes, don’t be afraid. You don’t have to do anything, but this is all about anticipating what is going to happen around you. Getting experience in seeing simple things like this will really help you get more comfortable at higher speeds.

Fear of merging onto the highway

Merging onto the highway can be a little tricky for a while, although once you get used to it, it’s not too difficult. The fear of merging onto highways comes from the fact that it looks very intimidating to find a suitable space from a merging lane that is quickly disappearing in front of you. An added fear of high speeds makes the situation even more complex. The feeling can feel threatening and claustrophobic. It can also feel confrontational especially when you want to navigate from one lane to another. In this situation, you need to stand your ground or risk being swept off the road.

Merging onto the highway is incredibly important to get right, and we must confront your fear. It is time to start learning how to face this fear. We have compiled some tips you should try out when merging onto the highways:

  • Get your speed right. I said above that a fear of high speeds makes merging onto the highway more complex and this is definitely true. One of the most important things when merging into other traffic is to have a similar speed to the traffic you are trying to merge into. Rural interstate highways carry a 70 mph limit and a 40 mph minimum. This means that the right-hand lane, in all likelihood travels at around 50-60mph. If you carry the same speed as the traffic on this lane, merging will be twice as easy. Urban Interstate limits generally range from 55 to 65mph but may be lower in some areas. On highways like that, a speed of 45-50mph could be enough to merge perfectly, and safely. The image below ilustrates how the right speed can help.

scared to drive on highway

  • Target off-peak hours when driving on the highways. This has proven to be very effective in helping people who have the fear of driving on the highway. At such periods, you have fewer drivers and other traffic to contend with. Do note that off-peak driving hours often attract more trucks, especially at night.
  • Take a companion along with you when you want to merge onto the highway. It could be a trusted friend, a family member, or a colleague that does not have a fear of high speeds and fear of driving on the highway. They will serve as another pair of eyes to watch out for you while you pay more attention to driving. Doing this a few times and later on trying it on your own will help get rid of the fear.
  • A quick and effective way to deal with this fear is to take part in a defensive driving course. If you can practice with an instructor, you will find that you are able to merge onto the highway a lot more easily than you used to.

Fear of changing lanes

The last thing that makes people anxious about driving on the highway is changing lanes. This has got to be one of the scarier things you will ever have to deal with, especially when driving on the highway. It’s even worse when there is heavy traffic and you need to maneuver your way around other vehicles. If you think your fears fall into this category, here are some things that can help you:

  • If you must overcome your fear of changing lanes, then learning to do this when the traffic is at its lowest will come in handy. It will give you more time to judge and anticipate the traffic around you and help you make decisions to change lanes without competing or dragging the road with other road users. Less traffic makes for less risk. It really makes sense when you think about it.
  • A Satnav or driving apps on your phone can come to your rescue in these situations. Satnavs are not too expensive anymore, and there are many driving apps available on both Android and iOS. Search for the one most suitable and make use of it when you need directions on how and where to switch lanes when driving.

 

How to Overcome Fear of Driving over Bridges

Do you get goosebumps at the thought of driving over a bridge? Or you suddenly find your heartbeat increasing at the sight of a bridge or overpass? If you were to choose, you would rather take the long way around rather than driving over that bridge? You could be suffering from a very serious fear of driving over bridges. the fear of crossing bridges is called gephyrophobia and you would be surprised how many people have symptoms of it.

Many people who are afraid of heights will naturally have the fear of crossing bridges as well, as they often find themselves high above the ground surface. Even people with claustrophobia, the fear of small changes can struggle with bridges. This may sound strange to you, as bridges are not enclosed, but because most bridges have only got two points of entry, many people with claustrophobia struggle with them as well. The fact that many bridges do not have a hard shoulder or laybys to pull over if something might be wrong often doesn’t help. The fear of driving over bridges and overpasses is one of the common fears any car driver has, but it also exists with pedestrians, bikers and any other mode of transport you can think of.

Unfortunately, bridges are often unavoidable, especially if there is a river or lake along the way, and if you must get to a particular destination. Taking a longer route around is not always an option and as a driver, you will have to find a way to overcome your fears. Don’t fret, there are ways to get rid of those anxious feelings.

Fear of Driving over Bridges and Overpasses

There are always good samaritans that will do anything to help you. You can read the story of Torri Forbes, who almost changed her mind about going to a friend’s wedding because she had to drive over a bridge to get there. Luckily for her, a nice and understanding police officer pulled over behind her and reassured her that she can overcome her fear. The police officer spoke to her calmly, said that if she takes it easy and slowly, she could do it, and he would drive behind her the whole way and look out for her. Torri made it to the wedding and had an excellent time after overcoming one of her biggest fears.

Seek Help from Family and Friends

A fear of driving over bridges is not easy to shake. but it’s important to let others around you know that you have this fear.  Your support system, in this case, your friends and family can understand your struggles better and help you overcome your fears. It could be a good idea to find a particularly supportive person to drive with you. Someone you know can calm you down and can talk you through it. It might even help to be a passenger as they drive you over to get used to it. Find someone calm and collected and by the time you have crossed bridges a few times with them, it will be a lot easier to start doing it alone. You could start by finding shorter, sturdy looking bridges as a lot of people fear the collapse of a bridge. Building up slowly, but steady will help you gain confidence.

Get All the Information You Can About Your Route and the Bridges You Cross

This is not easy for everyone, as even the sight of a bridge can make some shiver, but it can be a really good idea to look up as much information on the bridges you are about to cross to gain confidence and get rid of your anxiety. Information like the building date of the bridge, it’s construction company, their reputation at building great bridges and the safety measures used in constructing the bridge will be of great help. It may also help you prepare for your journey to know how much traffic goes by on a daily basis, and how many incidents there have been in the past. In almost every case, the answer to the last question is none.

fear of crossing bridges

Information like this can prepare your mind for the journey and help alleviate your fears. It might also help if you can get down from the car when you are at the bridge and survey the structural stability of the bridge.

Avoid Looking Sideways When Driving Over a Bridge

Because subconsciously a lot of people with gephyrophobia actually have other similar phobias as well, like acrophobia (fear of heights) or claustrophobia (Fear of confined spaces), it can help a great deal to avoid looking sideways as you cross a bridge or overpass. If your focus is on the road in front of you, it’s much easier to stay concentrated. Many people find that it helps to follow another car ahead or to have someone follow you. Focussing on the car ahead helps to make the driving experience feel more like a normal road. Watch the distance between like like you otherwise would, adjust your speed appropriately and you’ll be on the other side of the bridge before you know it. Whatever you do, don’t fall into the temptation of looking to the side or up at the sky when driving over a bridge.

It can also help to change your driving conditions. Winding down your window a little and allowing fresh air in can feel refreshing. Try talking to your passengers about something unrelated to your drive. If you are normally driving in the quiet, try turning your music a little. Not loud enough to be distracting, but enough to help you concentrate on the music, instead of your fear, which in most cases is irrational.

Practice Time and Time Again

You’ve crossed the bridge and nothing bad has happened. Rejoice! You’ve done great, but you’re not there yet. It’s one thing to successfully drive over a bridge once. It’s another thing to drive over it without being afraid anymore at any time in the future. The best way to make sure that the fear of driving over bridges and overpasses has become a thing of the past is by using the bridge over and over again.

fear of bridges phobia

Practice makes perfect, and overcoming fears takes time. It’s important to try the same bridge again, perhaps in a weeks time. And then move on to another bridge as well. By using multiple bridges as often as possible with or without a companion, you will be making huge progress at overcoming your fear of bridges.

Make Use of Mental Signposts

A technique I heard from another driving instructor around is to mentally make some signposts alongside the road. While driving over a bridge, you can count them off as you drive by. With every mental signpost, you pass you know you are getting one step closer to the end. You can make small victories as you reach a quarter of the way, then you reach half way. Counting the distance like this can really help focus you stay on track and reassure yourself that you are almost there, and getting closer every second.

Cannot Overcome Your Fear of Driving Over Bridges? – Hire a Driver to Help You

As a finishing note, if you think your fear of driving across bridges is not taken seriously, what would you say if we told you that there is a company in Maryland, USA that offers the services of drivers to help people cross over the 4.3 mile Chesapeake Bay Bridge for a small fee? The fear of driving over bridges and overpasses is very real, and many people are now tapping into it. The video below shows you what this bridge and the offered service is like. This bridge is not for the fainthearted. You don’t have to have a phobia to find this drive intimidating, many people do.

Now, any option like this should only be taken as a last resort because technically, you are not doing anything to overcome your fear of driving over bridges yourself. It will always be better to get a friend or family member to help you, as they will be more supportive about your exact fears. But if you have no one available, companies like the one above are now available. It will cost you some extra cash, but you can follow through, finish your journey and the money you paid could well be worth it to you.

Personally, I would always say people should avoid this option. the money you spend is just to cross the bridge, almost like a toll, and could better be spent with a dedicated driving instructor, therapist or a good training program like defensive driving or driving fear.

Finally, when any of these tips help you and you do finally drive over a bridge, take a moment to stop the car. Come out of your car and take a look at the hurdle you just scaled. You have made massive progress and that calls for a celebration! Go ahead and put a call across to your support group and let them know that you finally made it. The feel-good hormone in you will surely remember how you felt the last time you drove over a bridge if you were to use a bridge another time.

How To Overcome Your Fear Of Driving In Traffic

If you have a fear of driving in traffic, then you may have been told to “get over it”, “get a grip”, or to “start being brave”. To the people that say these unhelpful things: It’s not a myth; There are actually people out there who are afraid of driving in traffic. It’s time to acknowledge that these people need help and their condition has nothing to do with being macho or not being brave enough.

Your fear of driving in traffic can show itself in many different ways. Whether your true anxiety stems from being afraid of hitting a pedestrian, being hit by another car or hitting another car, or just navigating through unmerciful heavy traffic, this article is written with you in mind. So now that we have established that this fear does exist, the question of – how will I overcome this fear of driving in traffic? Will I really ever get over it and drive confidently and carelessly like so many other people seem to be able to do? Many of these kind of questions will be plaguing your mind right now.

Many people with various types of fear of driving think they are alone in that feeling that way. Actually, in reality, if you try to say out loud that you have a phobia for driving in traffic you’ll be extremely surprised at the number of people that will admit the same thing. And who could blame you? Come to think of it, who really enjoys driving in busy traffic through narrow streets with far too many cars? We bet the answer is – no one.

Fear of Driving in Traffic

Driving in busy traffic is certainly not fun for anyone. With all the horns honking from impatient drivers that think that their road rage at other drivers will make any difference. Or is it the image of vehicles lining up and looking like they are going to fall over one another? No, please don’t visualize it. We wouldn’t want to remind you of what it feels like.

Whatever fear you may have – Fear of driving in traffic, fear of driving in big cities, fear of traffic lights or any other kind of driving fear related to busyness and occasionally chaos on the road, we got your back. But you have to admit that it’s time to deal with your fear. Imagine how much money you are probably spending on taxis and Uber when you could have used that money on better things. The amount you could be relying on friends and family to drive you around. Or the time you spend at home because you can’t bear the thought of getting in your car in the first place. The time to find a solution to your problems and tackle this fear is now!

This article will help you overcome the fear of driving in traffic regardless of which one is really your issue. Ready? Let’s take a look at some proven ways to help overcome any fear associated with driving through busy cities.

Identify Where your Fear of Driving in Traffic is Coming From

If you want to overcome the fear of driving in traffic, fear of traffic lights, or fear of driving in big cities, it is very important to understand exactly what it is that makes you scared. Think about it for a minute, and think about it. Starting your car is okay? Coming out of your parking space or driveway is okay? How do you feel about merging into traffic? Coming to a stop at the right places at traffic lights? How about being around bigger vehicles like buses or trucks?

Somewhere in your mind, there is somewhere that your fear is coming from. It could an experience you had when you were little. Or maybe it has to do with you witnessing an accident scene that involved a small vehicle and big truck and you unconsciously came to the conclusion that it’s a bad idea to drive in traffic or even get close to a truck. It could be that your anxiety or in extreme cases also panic attacks come from improper driving lessons, with little exposure to these busy cities.

Fear of Traffic Lights

If you can painstakingly trace the origin of your fear, then rejoice. You are already halfway through putting an end to your anxiety as it will be much easier to find a solution to your problem.

Start Driving Training Specifically for Overcoming Driving Fears

Like myself, there are many driving instructors out there that can help you overcome your fears. Many instructors now are getting themselves trained in basic psychology that will really help understand why you’re scared and to find a way to overcome your fears. This is great for new drivers, who otherwise would be getting standard lessons, get scared, and give up on driving all-together. But there is also no shame in doing a refresher course. Your driving instructor will be happy to help you if you take the initiative and tell him specifically what it is that you struggle with.

Perhaps you’ve heard of defensive driving. Defensive driving is a skill set that will help you to anticipate traffic better and be better prepared for the unexpected. Defensive driving is THE ideal tool to learn if you’re afraid in traffic. You can take a class in defensive driving where you will be exposed to all the things you are afraid of about driving. This will build the confidence you have about driving in traffic. The lessons you learn can also help to keep you safe. Classes are available in almost any major city.

Have a Companion in the Car

This can be very important, especially if you are just starting out after passing your driving lessons. From your lessons, you will be very used to having someone else in your car. Someone to talk to, and an extra set of eyes on the road. You don’t necessarily have to get another driver to accompany you wherever you go, but just having someone in the car that you can chat with will help calm your nerves. Chances are that you will probably forget that you are driving in traffic.

Fear of Driving Alone

Psychologically, there is something else going on here as well. Your unconscious mind wouldn’t want to you embarrass yourself before your companion. Obviously, this is not the main goal but it is a bonus!

Seek Help From a Therapist

There is nothing to be shy of. The best way to solve a problem is by letting it out. When you seek out the help of a therapist, you will be putting yourself in a situation where you are open and ready to let that fear go. Your therapist will likely help design a program that will expose you to the fears you have about driving. Along with specific training from an instructor, or even a friend or relative a therapist can really help pinpoint the root of your fears.

Resist the Urge to Stay off Driving

The natural instinct with fear, whether it’s rational or irrational is to avoid putting yourself in situations where you get exposed to them. If you have a fear of driving in traffic, naturally, you try to stay away from busy cities. However, to really battle your fears this is counterproductive and detrimental to your driving confidence.

If you have been involved in an accident or have a phobia for driving in traffic or in big cities usually the hardest decision to make is to get up and drive again. It’s easy to avoid your fears, but you know that this is not the way forward. You cannot rely on people around you to chauffeur you all the time. The advice that you should get right back on the same horse that you fell from holds true in this situation. Putting off driving for a while will only make things worse in the long run.

 

Practice on Quieter Country Roads First

If you have a fear of driving in big cities, and you’re a relatively new driver, it might be wise to start out with quieter country roads first to get used to being behind the wheel. Whether you take a friend, or drive alone, driving only starts after you pass your test. It will take time to build your confidence, and this is completely natural. Instead of throwing yourself into the deep-end, start driving in a way you are already feeling comfortable with.

Driving on a Quiet Road

Only after you feel happy at the wheel, feel like you know the car you are driving in, found some of your limits you should venture into busier areas. Even then, don’t throw yourself in the middle of a multi-lane, but rather build up the difficulty of your drive. Drive through some (safe) suburbs. Give way to an old lady trying to cross the street. Anticipate what is happening around you. When you think you have gotten the hang of it, you can then venture into the busy highways and all those 6 lanes or multi-lanes. Remember though, that there is no shame in panic. Everyone does sometimes. But what is the worst that can happen? On the highway, you can simply take an exit later. Missed a left turn? Take the next one instead. Try not to put yourself under more pressure than you need to be.

Listen to Your Favorite Songs or motivational CD

Some drivers will tell you that listening to music while driving could serve as a distraction. While this makes some sense in some cases, it isn’t entirely true. Listening to a song or even a motivational cd can only serve as a distraction when you are completely engrossed by the song. Listening to your favorite music will help you relax, and some music really can help you concentrate. Singing along can actually help you forget for a moment that you are stuck in traffic or driving in multi-lanes. As long as your major concentration is still on the driving, you are good to go.

There are many websites that will give you the best music to listen to while driving a car. Think about it for a few moments and bust out those tunes you know you love.