27 Mar

Driving Anxiety: Causes, Symptoms & Ways To Prevent It


Driving Anxiety: Causes, Symptoms & Ways To Prevent It

Anxiety disorders are America’s highest form of mental illness. It affects 40 million adults each year. Anxiety can come from stress, trauma, physical conditions, and more. While not every driver has been diagnosed with anxiety, it was found in a survey that 66% of the U.S. population experiences driving anxiety, and 55% experiences it while performing basic driving maneuvers. 

What Is Driving Anxiety & What Causes It?

Driving anxiety is when a person feels anxious or stressed by the idea or action of driving. It can stem from a previous traumatic car accident or road-related event in someone’s life or be caused by general anxiety. Anxiety isn’t one size fits all, and may not occur for obvious reasons. For example, driving anxiety falls under the umbrella of GAD, which stands for general anxiety disorder. General anxiety can be a long or short-term illness that is experienced differently by all. Those with driving anxiety don’t necessarily have GAD, but those with GAD might experience driving anxiety more than others. Symptoms of GAD include but are not limited to the following:

  • Constant worry or fear about several areas in life
  • Difficulty processing change or uncertainty
  • Overthinking
  • Panic attacks
  • Inability to soothe yourself or relax
  • Distraction/restlessness
  • And more. 

These symptoms, along with the physical toll GAD can take on one’s body like nausea, headaches, fatigue, and more, may cause someone to avoid driving altogether or in areas that tend to cause them feelings of anxiety. For many people, driving is a day-to-day task they deem necessary, and relatively easy. For others with driving anxiety or even a phobia of driving (amaxophobia), it can feel overwhelming or impossible to get from one place to another. In addition to an existing anxiety disorder, other driving-related causes and stressors include but are not limited to the following:

In the survey mentioned above it was also found that there are basic driving maneuvers that cause anxiety as well, including merging onto a highway, unprotected left turns, U-turns, switching lanes, passing other vehicles, and backing up/reversing. These sorts of maneuvers are often necessary when driving and might even trigger a panic attack for an anxious driver.

Ways To Prevent Driving Anxiety

A common misconception about a general anxiety disorder is that it isn’t an actual illness and therefore is embarrassing to say you have it. GAD is real and as we already know, affects millions of people every day. While driving anxiety isn’t a specified anxiety disorder, it is a valid form of anxiety. If driving anxiety is something you experience, you shouldn’t be ashamed of it and you are not alone. However, if you are tired of feeling controlled by anxious feelings related to driving, there are ways to improve it.

Relaxation & breathing exercises

If you are someone who experiences nervousness and stress while driving, but not in an extreme way, starting with relaxation and breathing techniques might be the best option for you. Practicing deep breathing is an easy way to calm your central nervous system while clearing your mind, and strengthening your driving abilities. Meditating before you drive is another way to calm your nerves before you even get behind the wheel. These are free and easy tactics to relax your body and ease your mind before approaching a situation that makes you nervous. 

Try to determine where the root of your anxiety stems from 

If you can pinpoint the root of your driving anxiety, you have a better chance of managing it properly. For example, if you notice caffeine tends to heighten your nerves, avoid having your coffee or energy drink before driving. If you know driving in the rain will cause anxiety or a panic attack, try to check the weather and plan around it when possible. Suppose the cause of your driving anxiety comes from a deeper place. In that case, it can be harder to identify on your own, so talking with a friend, family member, or even a doctor might be the next best step to preventing driving anxiety. 

Get professional help

If you cannot come to terms with a cause for your anxiety while you drive, seeking help from a mental health professional, could not only help you identify your stressors but also help you develop a plan or additional strategies for coping, so you can go about your day to day routine without fear of getting behind the wheel. A mental health therapist or psychiatrist is a trusted professional who can help you place your anxious feelings and conquer your on-the-road anxiety. 

How Florida Law Group Can Help

Because driving anxiety is such a common experience and can be highly uncomfortable for the driver, it can also put themselves and others on the road in danger as anxious feelings can lead to distracted driving, which leads to a higher potential for car accidents to occur. Our firm has been servicing accident victims in Florida since 1984 and our attorneys have over 100+ years of combined experience. If a distracted driver has injured you in an accident, we can help you secure the compensation you deserve for your injuries and damages. Call today for a free consultation with one of our accident injury attorneys who can protect your rights. 

About The Florida Law Group

The Florida Law Group is one of Florida’s oldest and most reputable law firms as we’ve recovered millions of dollars for our clients. We’ve also been acknowledged and awarded by some of the most prestigious legal organizations in the country, including but not limited to the following:

  • The National Trial Lawyers Top 100
  • Best Lawyers In America
  • Florida Super Lawyers 
  • The National Association of Distinguished Counsel
  • And we’ve been featured on The Wall Street Journal, CBS news & more

We’re not a “big box store,” law firm. Call today for a free consultation and personalized legal services with experienced attorneys.