How people manage driving fear

Most people with a fear of driving will try and hide their distress because they think there’s something wrong with them or they’re going mad or becoming a nervous wreck. Very rarely will they tell anyone beyond their partner or immediate family. Even then, they are unlikely to disclose the full extent of their fear.

So safety and avoidance strategies are used by the sufferer to reduce their anxiety and exposure and to conceal and accommodate their panic and embarrassment.

These strategies will include:

Planning and driving alternative routes to avoid particular types of roads (like multi-lane roads, freeways and motorways). Drivers become experts on finding and driving back road routes (they love their Sat-Navs) and can even convince themselves that the bigger roads are always jammed so” it’s quicker this way”.

Driving at times when the roads are clear to avoid traffic. Typically this will involve leaving for work at unsociable hours (like 5am) and returning late in the evening. It makes for a very long working day with a stressful drive home at the end.

Relying on partners or friends to drive instead or take over en route.

Making excuses to avoid driving with friends and colleagues, or giving people lifts, who might notice their anxiety: “I’m going a different way” or “I’ll meet you there”.

Finding other “reasons” to turn down jobs, promotions, social invitations and vacations that would involve driving

Manipulating people and situations to avoid having to drive.

Fear, as they say, is the mother of invention.

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