How to Manage Driving Anxiety to Avoid Future Accidents
Anxiety can affect anyone at any time. It does not discriminate. From school aged children being nervous about the first day of school to adults who are uncertain about changing jobs, anxiety takes its toll on the human psyche.When it occurs behind the wheel of a car, anxiety can increase chances of accidents and auto insurance premiums.
Root of the problem
Anxiety is a mental health issue that has impacted society in ways most are not aware of. Millennials and Generation Z are in no rush to learn to drive, citing that automobile accidents are the leading cause of death for teens in the U.S. They fear getting behind the wheel of the car and being faced with a situation they may not be prepared to handle.
Seasoned drivers report feelings of driving anxiety following a car accident, even if no injuries were sustained. Mental health experts report that driving anxiety as a result of an accident is similar to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and drivers need to face their fears in a way that they are most comfortable.
Anxiety symptoms vary, but worrying, feeling uptight, lack of concentration, being irritable, experiencing poor sleep, fatigue, headaches and generally not feeling well can all be signs of anxiety. When these symptoms are experienced behind the wheel of a car, bad things can happen.
What to do
Whether helping a teen overcome their anxiety in learning to drive, or providing support to an accident survivor who is fearful of getting back behind the wheel, there are some things you can do to help them conquer driving anxiety.
- Be patient with them and yourself. There’s no need to rush anyone into a situation that makes them uncomfortable.
- Let them start as a passenger. Give them the opportunity to adjust to the concept of traveling by car where they have no responsibility. Set a good, calm example, and drive without distractions.
- Take shorter trips. Reducing the time they spend behind the wheel can help to ease anxiety.
- Don’t avoid the accident site. It is important for drivers to reclaim their sense of control. Avoidance of the area can enhance that anxious feeling.
- Suggest they participate in a defensive driving school. New drivers will benefit tremendously from a professional trainer, and experienced drivers will sharpen their existing skills.
- Recommend therapy with a mental health expert to learn coping skills that will help overcome driving anxiety.
Anxiety is a distraction that reduces focus when driving. Drivers should always be in the right frame of mind to get behind the wheel to reduce the risk of being involved in a crash.
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