After you’ve been in a car accident, getting back behind the wheel can be daunting. The fear of getting into another accident can prey on your mind – even if your first accident was a “fender bender” that didn’t cause serious injuries.
Accidents happen, both in cars and outside them. Your odds of being in some type of car accident at some point in your life are fairly significant, but this is no reason to give in to an accident-based fear of driving.
Try to consider the problem from a logical point of view: You’ve had occasional trip-ups while walking, haven’t you? A stumble, a bruised shin, a stubbed toe? Have any of them made you decide to give up on walking?
You can extend this same sort of reasoning to driving after you’ve been in a car accident. In fact, statistics show that your odds of getting into more accidents are lower after you’ve had one.
Not convinced? Don’t worry. Overcoming your fear is an extended process, and it will take time to restore your instinctive confidence in your driving ability.
Here’s the encouraging statistical part: After you’ve survived one car accident, your chances of getting into another are lower than your odds of getting into that first accident.
Another statistical truth to consider is that before or after getting in an accident, car travel represents no greater danger than many of the other activities you engage in every day without any sort of fear. Illness, non-car related accidents, and other such risks are with you all the time – and they’re all very minor. The risk of a car accident is the same.
If focusing on specifics helps you overcome your fears, consider that the odds of getting into an accident on a single car trip are truly tiny. Like the overwhelming majority of people, you can complete a basic drive without incident.
Getting yourself back on the road is important. The more driving you do, the less powerful your fear will be. Your accident is in your past, and by working to beat your fears, you can put them into the past as well.
Overcoming The Fear
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To build up that healthy, incident-free driving experience, you need to get past your fear at the start. The fear is, of course, most pressing in the days and weeks immediately after your accident. This force can be even more discouraging if you were injured. But you are capable of getting past this fear!
Begin by admitting your fear. Own it. This means being honest with yourself. If you’re afraid to drive, you’re afraid to drive; you don’t need to make up excuses for avoiding it. Once you recognize your fear as an issue, you can move on to beating it.
This is all a part of processing your fear in a realistic, healthy way. You can’t run from it or hide from it. The only way to overcome driving fear is to face it head-on. Here are some useful tools that can help:
- Think about your fear honestly (as discussed above)
- Use general relaxation techniques to free yourself from driving-related anxieties
- Consult a counselor, therapist, or support group
- Use self-help resources to learn more techniques for overcoming your fear
Basic relaxation exercises that help for any sort of anxiety can help you overcome a driving fear that stems from a past accident. Three useful options are visualization, meditation, and hypnosis.
Visualization is a form of mindfulness that’s closely related to meditation (see below). As the name suggests, it’s about picturing yourself dealing with specific situations.
A useful visualization for this fear is to imagine the safe, uneventful arrival waiting for you at the end of a relaxing drive. Here’s a basic step-by-step visualization guide:
- Close your eyes. Breathe deeply.
- Picture the start and end of your drive. Where are you going? What does the destination look like? (Note that this process will probably be more effective if you visualize a destination that you actually look forward to reaching!)
- Imagine getting into the car. The seat is comfortable, the steering wheel is within easy reach. Turn on the radio. Your favorite music is playing. Start the engine and get ready to drive.
- Visualize what the journey will look like. Traffic is smooth; you are calm. You handle basic driving functions – yielding for a merging car, perhaps – safely and efficiently.
You can take pride in your skilled driving. You arrive safely at your destination; you have driven well.
As you grow stronger in confronting your fear, challenge yourself by adding some complications to your visualizations. Can you maintain the same sense of calm if you’re visualizing heavy traffic or another car cutting you off?
Let your visualization go on longer if that’s what it takes to cope with the challenge. Make sure you bring it to a positive close. Regardless of the scenarios you present yourself in your visualization, you can drive safely and reach your destination without experiencing anxiety.
If accident-related fears make it difficult for you to drive, your problem could be considered as an anxiety disorder. Like all forms of anxiety, these fears respond very well to regular meditation.
Motionless meditation isn’t for everyone. If you need a relaxation practice with a more physical component, consider activities like yoga or peaceful walking. Low-intensity exercise is another excellent tool for treating anxiety.
Hypnosis is essentially a form of guided visualization.
This is an excellent alternative to look into if doing visualization on your own doesn’t seem effective. A hypnotherapist can build customized therapeutic sessions to help you unlock the benefits of visualization. You might even find applicable hypnosis recordings that can help you with an accident-related fear of driving.
Don’t Be Afraid To Seek Professional Help
As already noted above, a fear of driving caused by an accident can become a serious problem if it takes hold and prevents you from living the way you want to live. It is perfectly reasonable – if not flat-out wise! – to seek professional help in overcoming such fear.
If the self-help suggestions presented here aren’t doing enough to help you manage your fear, a professional can help you identify complications or underlying issues that may be blocking you.
One-on-one behavioral therapy is a particularly effective form of treatment for serious fears.
Another option is working with people who are suffering from problems similar to your own. There may be a group in your community devoted specifically to driving fears. Alternately, a group for anxiety disorders in general can also help.
Group therapy is most effective when it is guided by an experienced professional. This facilitator keeps the group focused on the shared problem. One of the best results of group therapy is understanding that you are not alone with your fear.
Self Help Programs
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Self-help programs can play a useful therapeutic role in overcoming your fear. For example, self-help routines can become a form of “maintenance” to keep yourself strong after you complete more intensive professional treatment.
There are many different self-help products out there – including books, DVDs, and audio files – that can help you deal with either general anxiety or driving fears in particular.
Many people dealing with fears stemming from a car accident have found The Driving Fear Program to be helpful. It’s a comprehensive self-help guide that covers a range of different circumstances that can inhibit your driving abilities, and that includes fear of driving caused by a past accident.
Alternatively, you may want to give self-help programs a shot as your first line of treatment for your fears. Many people go this route to try and deal with their fears privately.
Remember, though, that you should feel free to seek out professional help if your independent treatment efforts don’t deliver the outcome you’re looking for.
If your fear of past accident is stopping you to drive and enjoy road trips, then we highly recommend the Driving Fear 2.0 program. Try out this program and you will yourself feel the anxiety and fear going away.