Rosenbaum & Rosenbaum, P.C. | November 6, 2022 | Car Accidents
Vehophobia is the fear of driving. This fear often follows scary car accidents and can result in the loss of independence for accident victims. These victims are often frozen in fear at the prospect of getting behind the wheel again, so they are at the mercy of public transportation, expensive rideshares, or their friends.
Below, we provide more information about this condition, its causes and symptoms, and how you can overcome it.
The Definition of Vehophobia
Vehophobia is the fear of driving and is a specific phobia, usually caused by a traumatic experience related to driving, the location, or an event that causes anxiety in the victim.
Vehophobia is different for each person. One person may avoid all aspects of driving while another may avoid freeway driving because they were involved in an accident on a freeway or are afraid of the higher speeds. Sometimes, victims who suffer from vehophobia are unable to ride as a passenger in a vehicle without crippling anxiety.
Vehophobia is not slight discomfort brought on by an accident. Instead, it interferes with daily life. Individuals with vehophobia often go to great lengths to avoid stressors that cause them anxiety. Thousands of people in the United States suffer from this condition, and many require mental health services to help treat it.
What Are Common Causes of Vehophobia?
Vehophobia often occurs after a person is injured or almost killed in a serious car accident. In many of these situations, car accident victims suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, which may make the victim feel anxious or experience flashbacks of the wreck. One study found that up to one-third of car accident victims experience PTSD at least 30 days after a motor vehicle accident.
Common causes of vehophobia include:
- Being involved in an accident that led to injury or the fear of dying or being injured
- Witnessing an accident while driving
- Being involved in an accident where someone you love was injured or killed
- Driving in intense conditions, such as heavy rain or snow
- Having a strict driving instructor who overreacted to every tiny mistake
- Experiencing road rage from another driver
These events can trigger someone who has a fear of driving.
What Are the Symptoms of Vehophobia?
It is important to recognize the symptoms of vehophobia if you suspect you may be suffering from this condition.
Common signs of vehophobia include:
- Increased heart rate
- Shallow breathing
- Sweating hands
- Trembling hands or limbs
- Tense muscles in the shoulder, neck, or face
- Difficulty relaxing
- Chest pain
- Feeling excessive fear
- Panic attacks
- Attempts to avoid the stressful activity
These symptoms may only occur while in a vehicle or when thinking about driving.
Treatment Options for Vehophobia
Fortunately, vehophobia can be treated by various methods, which may include:
- Defensive driving courses – Learning about defensive driving techniques may give victims a greater sense of control.
- Therapy – Talking through the problem and anxious feelings may help relieve them.
- Exposure therapy – This specific type of therapy gradually exposes you to the source of anxiety, which may include virtual reality exposure therapy to safely practice driving in a virtual environment.
- Medication – Medication can help if you are dealing with anxiety.
- Support groups – Talking about your anxiety with people who have gone through similar experiences can be therapeutic.
While these treatments can be effective, they can also be expensive. If someone else was responsible for causing the car accident that led to your vehophobia, you can seek compensation for the emotional injuries you have suffered. An experienced New York car accident lawyer can explain your legal rights and options.