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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.