Are You Scared of Driving?
One of the unfortunate side effects of a car accident is developing vehophobia, or fear of driving. For some, vehophobia can have a crippling effect on their independence. Public transportation isn’t always ideal, especially for those who live outside cities like Las Vegas. For almost any person, vehophobia reduces their quality of life. Something as simple as putting the key in the ignition can suddenly bring on heart palpitations, anxiety, and fear. vehophobia is a real condition, and those suffering need compassion as well as strategies for regaining control.
What Are the Symptoms of Vehophobia?
Many victims have no idea whether they have vehophobia. They might never have even heard of the word before. Nevertheless, there are some common symptoms we see when a person is struggling with this condition. They include:
- Elevated heart rate
- Difficulty breathing
- Tension, especially in the hands and face
- Chest pain
- Panic attacks
Someone struggling with vehophobia will usually find any excuse to avoid driving. The weather is too bad, they are too tired, or their car is in need of servicing—these are some of the excuses people in the grips of vehophobia use. Instead of driving, they often take the bus or get an Uber. Or they stay home alone.
What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?
Many of the symptoms of vehophobia should sound familiar to someone who understands post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. This syndrome is a collection of different problems, such as anxiety and flashbacks. A person struggling with PTSD can even experience physical deterioration, such as weight loss.
PTSD is a common condition when people have undergone a traumatic experience, such as surviving a war or a natural disaster, like a hurricane. Car accidents are also another leading cause of post-traumatic stress disorder. Someone with PTSD might relive the accident when they try to sleep at night. They also become skittish at a loud noise, which reminds them of the crash. And some of them will be terrified to drive—in other words, they suffer from vehophobia.
How Common is vehophobia?
Probably more common than people imagine. Some studies have found that roughly 25-33% of people involved in car accidents struggle with PTSD. Their condition might not always manifest as vehophobia—but some of them will experience this.
What Causes Vehophobia?
By far, being involved in a car accident is the primary cause of vehophobia. Some people have never had a fear of car accidents until the day they get into a wreck. From that point forward, they might do everything possible to avoid driving. This can obviously make getting treatment very difficult.
Some other causes include witnessing a car accident, especially one involving a loved one. If you saw your parent or sibling involved in a car crash, you might be terrified of driving.
Other causes are less dramatic, such as having a driving instructor who is too strict or having a family member who always expresses fear of cars. Children are susceptible to these types of influences and can grow up trying to avoid driving.
Other causes are news stories of car accidents, watching videos of car crashes, or even having a large animal run in front of your car. These terrifying experiences—especially when cumulative—can cause vehophobia in someone.
Is Vehophobia Related to Other Conditions?
It can be. It’s not unusual for someone with a fear of driving to also suffer from claustrophobia, which is the fear of being in a tight space. A person with vehophobia might also have agoraphobia, which is a fear of leaving the house.
What Are Common Vehophobia Triggers?
A trigger is anything that brings on a person’s symptoms. Obviously, getting behind the wheel of a car is one trigger. Many people with vehophobia can’t even be anywhere near a vehicle, even when it is parked.
Other triggers might include watching a movie which has a car crash in it. Suddenly, you might start shaking or have a panic attack. Playing a video game like Grand Theft Auto could also be a trigger and cause a flashback.
These triggers can strike out of the blue. Sometimes, even hearing a car horn sound is enough to trigger an anxiety attack.
Those struggling with vehophobia deserve our compassion. And victims should be proactive in seeking out treatments. You don’t have to live with a lifetime of fear.
Can You Treat Vehophobia?
Anxiety about driving is very hard to overcome. Still, treatment options are available. Unfortunately, the mental side of car accidents is often ignored when attention naturally focuses on fractures, burns, and other bodily injuries. If you notice vehophobia symptoms in yourself or a loved one, now is the time to seek out treatment.
Workarounds, like using public transportation or having someone else drive you, can only work for so long. Eventually, victims and their families must confront PTSD while driving.
Some treatments which have worked for people include:
Mental health counseling. Meeting with a therapist can help you gain control of your anxiety and fears. Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on altering thoughts and actions. You should consult with your health insurer to see if your insurance covers mental health treatment. Of course, you can also seek compensation for therapy in a car accident settlement.
Exposure therapy. This is a type of mental health counseling. A person with anxiety confronts the source directly. This might mean going into a vehicle with your therapist and talking through your emotions as you sit behind the wheel.
Driving courses. When an accident is the source of your vehophobia, then taking a defensive driving course might improve your confidence. Driving courses are usually held on a closed track or other areas away from traffic. Participants learn how to react quickly to changing conditions, such as slipping on ice or a jaywalker. After taking a course, you might feel comfortable edging back into the driver’s seat of your car.
Prescription drugs. Medications can help anyone who is scared of driving. For example, you might take anti-anxiety medications that suppress your nervous system. There’s a risk with taking drugs, though. They can also inhibit your ability to drive successfully. Someone who is too sedated is at risk of crashing. However, you might take prescription drugs for a period while reintroducing yourself to motor vehicles as a passenger.
The bottom line on treatment. There is no miracle cure for vehophobia. It might take you months or years before you build up the courage to put the keys in the ignition. Any small step is a victory. Sometimes, just sitting in a car for a bit while it is parked is a necessary first step.
Helpfully, many people want to see you succeed. There might even be support groups in your area for people suffering from driving PTSD.
Can an Attorney Help Me with Vehophobia?
Yes. An experienced Vegas car accident lawyer is a great addition to your team. Although we can’t deliver mental health counseling, we can seek compensation in a settlement to cover the cost of your treatment. You should also receive money damages for pain and suffering and mental anguish—both of which cover anxiety while driving.
For assistance with your case, please contact Naqvi Injury Law today for a free consultation. We offer a compassionate, confidential meeting to listen to you describe your condition. Then we develop a game plan for obtaining the compensation you are entitled to from the at-fault driver.
vehophobia is a serious condition—but with the right treatment, you can soon find yourself driving down the highway. Call us today to get started.