Paranoia and Anxiety about driving


Hi guys. I’m 21 and I have had only a driving permit for a year and a half now because I cannot persuade myself to get behind the wheel of a car and push myself to learn to drive. Whenever I did manage to do so, I was constantly terrified of who or what I might hit, what I might do wrong, if there was a cop behind me or nearby, other people driving near me, etc. Thankfully, my boyfriend has been teaching me and lending me his car for practice, and he is very kind and patient with me. I know deep down that I can drive and do what I need to, but the general fear of damaging my car or someone else’s sticks with me, especially since I live in a place of high density traffic and a greater percentage of bad drivers. I don’t want to risk a panic attack while behind the wheel… I really need some pointers on how to get over this fear.

Category: Tags: asked September 8, 2015

2 Answers

I don't know what services are like around you, but there might be a possibility of getting a driving instructor that's either qualified or has experience helping people with fears like that, so they can teach you and help you through it at the same time. But there's also breathing exercises you can do, I think it's in for 7, hold for 3, out for 12 (seconds) or something? And you can always consult a therapist on this, because they're usually able to help in some way :)

I learned to drive in church parking lots. They're big, usually empty, and have space to get used to how the car handles. How much space do I need for a turn? How big is the car I'm trying to park? Those aren't any good for driving at any speed, but I spent a couple nights a week for a month or two just going in circles around the lot. We could also practice at night until I got used to the headlights.

I lived in rural PA, so it was easy to find a national park to practice on. There, I could get up to 25 or 30mph and practice on gravel, dirt, and pavement.

Access to these places depends on where you live, but hopefully they give you some ideas of low-stress place to practice.

Driving is stressful at first! Don't feel bad about being nervous, but don't let your being nervous keep you from driving. It's an invaluable skill. It does take some getting used to, though.