Driving phobia or a fear of driving can be severe enough to be considered an intense, persistent fear or phobia. It is often great enough that people will avoid driving at all costs, and instead find someone to drive them or use public transportation, regardless of how inconvenient or expensive. There is no medical term for this fear, though it is comparable to amaxophobia, the fear of riding in a vehicle, or hodophobia, the fear of traveling. Hodophobia is derived from the Greek word "hodos", meaning path and "phobos" meaning fear.
A fear of driving may escalate to a phobia during difficult driving situations, such as freeway driving or congested traffic.
People with a fear of driving may experience trembling, sweating, accelerated pulse, loss of sense of reality, and thoughts of losing control while driving, even in situations that are reasonably safe.[unreliable medical source?] This fear will cause many to avoid driving, create excuses to not drive, or even refuse to get a driver's license for years.
Those with associated post-traumatic stress disorder may experience intrusive thoughts or dreams of the original accident—both when driving and not—lack of emotional responsiveness and irritability.
There are three major categories of driving phobia, distinguished by their onset.
The first and most common cause of a fear of driving is traffic accidents. These situations cause PTSD Driving Phobia, where the fear develops in response to a traumatic event.[unreliable medical source?] Usually, situations like these trigger a fear of driving in only specific situations related to the original cause, though it also can trigger a fear of driving entirely.[unreliable medical source?]
The second most common form is driving phobia as a specific phobia. Because driving does involve some danger and the possibility of a collision, there does exist some fear or caution in many rational people. However, for some the fear of crashing, losing control over the car, being criticized or being in a dangerous situation will cause panic.[unreliable medical source?] It is classified as a phobia when the anxiety does not rationally reflect the amount of danger.
The least common category is an extension of agoraphobia,[unreliable medical source?] the anxiety of having a panic attack while being in crowds or public places. One manifestation of agoraphobia is the inability to travel long distances away from home. When driving, an agoraphobe may feel that he is putting himself into a fearful situation, and Driving Phobia may develop.
Several other self-help treatments exist, mainly involving exposure therapy and relaxation techniques while driving. Additional driving training and practice with a certified teacher also help many to become more confident and less likely to suffer from anxiety.
With repeated exposure, all of the subjects displayed significantly less variance from normal in heart rate acceleration, depression readings, subjective distress, and post-traumatic stress disorder ratings.[unreliable medical source?]
"Those who present with a fear of driving often describe features consistent with various anxiety disorders, including panic disorder, agoraphobia, specific phobia, and social phobia.[unreliable medical source?]
- Because driving is an inherently dangerous activity, almost everyone will experience driving anxiety to some extent, though not necessarily to the degree of a phobia.
- 25% - 33% of people involved in a crash that resulted in a referral to a hospital experience this situational fear of driving.
- The majority of those with a fear of driving rate themselves as safer drivers than average, though less relaxed.[unreliable medical source?]
- [unreliable medical source?] Taylor JE, Deane FP, Podd JV (2000). "Determining the focus of driving fears". J Anxiety Disord 14 (5): 453–70. doi:10.1016/s0887-6185(00)00033-5. PMID 11095540.
- [unreliable medical source?] Mathew RJ, Weinman ML, Semchuk KM, Levin BL (August 1982). "Driving phobia in the city of Houston: a pilot study". Am J Psychiatry 139 (8): 1049–51. PMID 7091430.
- [unreliable medical source?] Driving Anxiety Explored. http://www.fear-of-driving.org/ Fear of Driving. Accessed 18 April 2012.
- Beck JG, Coffey SF (December 2007). "Assessment and treatment of PTSD after a motor vehicle collision: Empirical findings and clinical observations". Prof Psychol Res Pr 38 (6): 629–639. PMC 2396820. PMID 18509507.
- [unreliable medical source?]Types of Road Fear. http://www.driving-phobia.co.uk/types-road-anxiety.htm Ride Drive 30-Jan-2011. Accessed 18 April 2012
- [unreliable medical source?] Walshe DG, Lewis EJ, Kim SI, O'Sullivan K, Wiederhold BK (June 2003). "Exploring the use of computer games and virtual reality in exposure therapy for fear of driving following a motor vehicle accident" (PDF). Cyberpsychol Behav 6 (3): 329–34. doi:10.1089/109493103322011641. PMID 12855091.
- Kraft, T. & Kraft, D. (2004). Creating a virtual reality in hypnosis: a case of driving phobia. Contemporary Hypnosis, 21 (2): 79-85.
- Lauer, G. "The Treatment of Driving Phobia". International Journal of Psychology 27.3 (1992): 469-469
- Wiederhold B, Wiederhold M. Fear of Driving. Washington, DC, American Psychological Association, 2005. doi:10.1037/10858-013