NERVOUS DRIVERS

As well as helping people to pass their driving test, I’ve also seen a lot of clients who already had their license, but still avoided driving due to fear of the actual experience of being on the road.

In some cases they found it hard to be without the reassuring presence of their instructor sat beside them. They now have to make all their own decisions, with nobody to grab the wheel or use the dual controls if things went wrong. Even just being alone can be scary for some people, due to the extremely aggressive behaviour of some other drivers.

I’ve also seen some people who had driven happily for months or years after their test, but then developed severe anxiety following a road traffic accident, especially in situations where it was all the other person’s fault and could not have been anticipated or avoided.

In some cases driving anxiety is connected with other phobias such as fear of heights. Some people for instance avoid high bridges such as the Tamar Bridge or the Avon Bridge, or coastal roads with a steep cliff on one side.

Sometimes the phobia links to another problem such as OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). For instance there may be a fear of doing harm to other people. Some people dwell upon fantasies of catastrophic outcomes such as running over a child. Others may think obsessively about how easy it would be to turn the wheel suddenly and cross into the other lane, smashing into an oncoming vehicle. People often do not talk about these types of fears, but they are actually quite common.

In all these cases the brain automatically triggers the fight-or-flight reaction, which I explain HERE in more detail. But of course this reaction is not at all helpful when you’re driving a car. Driving actually consists of sitting in a comfortable chair making precise movements with your hands and feet in order to control the vehicle safely. There is no strenuous exertion, no need to fight or run, so the fight-or-flight reaction is unnecessary and even potentially dangerous. Nervous drivers tend to compensate for this by slowing down excessively, but this annoys other drivers who may bang their horns or even shout at you, making you even more anxious.

To be effective, hypnosis therapy for driving anxiety should include a range of techniques to address all these components of the phobia. CLICK HERE for more detailed information on what happens in a therapy session.