When we’re stressed, driving can be a great relaxation, but for others, being behind the wheel is their worst nightmare.
Amaxophobia is when passengers or drivers experience a constant sense of overwhelming fear while riding in a car.
Sometimes a person’s travel or car phobia can be so great that they panic while driving.
When a person suffers from this phobia, they may also be afraid of traveling on buses, trains, ambulances, trams, planes, and more.
Signs that you may be suffering from this phobia include dizziness, racing heartbeat when driving, disorientation, sweaty palms, and excessive panic.
Certain types of amaxophobia are more serious than others. Some can drive but not ride, while others cannot even glance at a vehicle without feeling a surge of panic.
But how do you overcome your driving phobia, no matter how serious it is? This five-step guide should help you with that.
According to a study by Aviva, 43% of UK drivers are nervous on the road. Pictured: an archive image of a car on the Autobahn
1. Get a driving instructor
If you feel anxious driving – don’t worry, you’re not alone, 43% of drivers feel nervous on the road, according to a study Aviva.
Daniel Cluff, an occupational therapist and former driving instructor with 13 years’ experience, echoed the statement, saying, “A lot of people are nervous before driving or when they first start.”
“It’s a very alien experience, even if you’ve been a passenger for many years.”
He recommended that finding a driving instructor and taking a few driving lessons is a good way to go for those who want to overcome this fear.
Mr Cluff, 48, said: “If your fear of driving is more general, for example because you are learning or re-learning to drive, I would recommend you see a licensed driving instructor.”
“You have dual control and can take control of the vehicle if needed.”
“As hard as it is, you have to engage, dive in, and overcome your fear.” Otherwise, you will never cross that threshold and dispel whatever fear or myth is holding you back.’
He also offered advice on what not to do, saying, “I would suggest avoiding scenarios that might trigger you, while also remembering that you may have to face them at some point.”
“Build up slowly because you don’t want to fail when the unexpected happens.”
2. Be honest about your fears
You can lie to others, but in general life it’s always important to always be honest with yourself and the same goes for your fear of driving.
Releasing your freedom into the universe through a voice recording or writing it down on a piece of paper can take you one step closer to your fear of driving.
“The brutal truth method” can also be a useful tactic to overcome your fears with the help of another person, he says The Kentucky Counseling Center.
In this method, you voice your fear to a friend and they point out how powerless you are. You could say that you have an innate fear of clowns, and your friend would then point out that the clown poses no risk to you.
3. Practice meditation techniques
Meditation has a number of benefits. It reduces your stress levels, can ease your anxiety and help you sleep better.
It can also help ease some burdens buried deeper in your mind, such as a phobia of driving. It can help you feel less paranoid and more focused when you’re on the go.
Likewise it is free. A guide to mastering the art of meditation can also be found here.
4. Use positive, affirmative words
Showing yourself some love by saying short positive phrases to yourself every day not only improves your mood but can also help.
Jack Canfield, the world’s most renowned self-help expert, revealed her 13 daily affirmations of success.
Not only are words of encouragement a great way to encourage yourself and help you on your path to success—they can also help you overcome the fear of getting behind the wheel.
Telling yourself, “I’m afraid to drive, but I can drive” can be a great way to slowly build your confidence to get on the road.
If you are suffering from amaxophobia because you are driving (see image), it is always important to seek professional help and advice
5. Go to therapy
For those who have an ingrained fear of driving, Mr Cluff advised those looking to get back behind the wheel to seek advice and guidance.
The former driving instructor said: “I would ask if there was a specific or traumatic event that triggered the fear.”
“If it was a bad car accident, I would suggest counseling. It may also be worth having this conversation with your GP practice.”.
“You can even call a CBT therapist and discuss your circumstances with them and ask directly if this type of therapy would help you.”
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of counseling. See the NHS phobia treatment information for details.
In CBT, a person is gradually exposed to their phobia over time. However, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) discourages adults with phobias from using computerized CBT as a form of treatment.
However, every person and every phobia is different. So if you’re looking for further advice on how to deal with your phobia, you can find the NHS’s guidance on treatment Here.