I'm Afraid Of Driving

Hey, everyone.
So, this might sound a little stupid, but I'm absolutely terrified of driving in a car. I've been able to avoid getting my license for three years now, but my parents are starting to get on my case about it now, completely ignoring me when I tell them of my phobia of getting behind the wheel of a car. I mean seriously, cars, in the wrong hands anyway, are speeding metal death traps that can take/ruin lives in a split second. If you fuck up once while driving a car you can total another persons car and be forced to pay for repairs for months at a time. And yet, everyone raves about how great driving is and judges you intensely if your past the age of seventeen and don't have your drivers license yet.
I don't understand any of it. I mean, I kind of understand why people judge you if you can't drive. Having your license, I guess, must be like an initiation into adulthood or something. But, more to the point, how do people get over that terrifying fear that they may kill someone every time they sit down to drive to a convenient store down the street? Do any of you who drive have any tips for someone like me to help me get past my fears? I'm almost twenty-one so I feel like I should be able to drive, but whenever I go to learn I get really scared and nervous and it's very frustrating.

I think most people have some level of apprehension at driving for the first time. I kind of felt the same at first with the whole 'speeding death machine full of flammable liquids at my control' thing.

On my first lesson I got in and the instructor did the basic 'point out how things work' then said "Right, start the engine, drive to the road end and turn left" and my first response was "You mean with the other cars?". I thought we'd go to some abandoned streets and I'd learn the basics but I think getting right into it helped.

I have also crashed a car, my fault etc and it did make my quite fearful of driving afterwards seeing how so many small factors in what happened could have changed the scenario for the worse. I didn't drive for a year and a half after that and I think getting back behind the wheel after that was a lot scarier than when I first started because I knew the consequences first hand. BUT I did it, at first it was horrible but I kept doing it and now I'd say I was pretty much fully confident driving again.

As for advice. I'd say relax, yes it's quite a scary thing but if you're in an instructor's car you have someone qualified right next to you trained to help and if you're not all tensed up or stressing everything is a lot easier. Also once you've mastered the basics, gone out and done it a few times and have some more road skill/confidence the fear that everyone around is your next potential victim should subside.

It's a good skill to have, and overcoming that fear will help you in other aspects of life. I found I gained a lot of confidence that I now apply to many other uncomfortable situations.
When I was learning I used to have panic attacks and wind up bawling, but now driving is a piece of cake even with all the other psychopaths on the road.

You don't wanna' end up like my partner. He's 30 and I have to drive him everywhere.

Ryleh:
It's a good skill to have, and overcoming that fear will help you in other aspects of life. I found I gained a lot of confidence that I now apply to many other uncomfortable situations.
When I was learning I used to have panic attacks and wind up bawling, but now driving is a piece of cake even with all the other psychopaths on the road.

You don't wanna' end up like my partner. He's 30 and I have to drive him everywhere.

Pretty much this. It's nerve-wracking at first, but when you get used to it you might love it, as I do. And trust me, you don't want to be the guy who needs a ride everywhere. Most of my friends are like that now, and it's a royal pain in the ass for all parties involved.

shwnbob:
Hey, everyone.
So, this might sound a little stupid, but I'm absolutely terrified of driving in a car. I've been able to avoid getting my license for three years now, but my parents are starting to get on my case about it now, completely ignoring me when I tell them of my phobia of getting behind the wheel of a car. I mean seriously, cars, in the wrong hands anyway, are speeding metal death traps that can take/ruin lives in a split second. If you fuck up once while driving a car you can total another persons car and be forced to pay for repairs for months at a time. And yet, everyone raves about how great driving is and judges you intensely if your past the age of seventeen and don't have your drivers license yet.
I don't understand any of it. I mean, I kind of understand why people judge you if you can't drive. Having your license, I guess, must be like an initiation into adulthood or something. But, more to the point, how do people get over that terrifying fear that they may kill someone every time they sit down to drive to a convenient store down the street? Do any of you who drive have any tips for someone like me to help me get past my fears? I'm almost twenty-one so I feel like I should be able to drive, but whenever I go to learn I get really scared and nervous and it's very frustrating.

I know how you feel. Back when I was 18 I was involved in a pretty serious car crash along with my mother and father; we were hit from behind by a car and then a bus and were then shunted into the car in front of us.

image

image

I was in the back which is where the brunt of the damage was done, (If you think the front looks bad then you should have seen the back, it was a total wright off. One moment we were driving and then we came to a stop (the driver in front was lost), and then the next moment there's this all mighty SMASH. I cracked my head open on something and when I came round a second or two later (I guess I lost a few seconds), the entire car was filled with smoke/mist from the air bags going off, the rear seating columns had come loose, there was glass everywhere and the entire front dash where the radio was had come clean off its station.

To make matters worse the engine was going crazy and and there was smoke coming from the bonnet. I remember my dad who was in the passenger seat up front shouting if I was okay, (he later told me he was really scared I wouldn't reply; he knew it was bad just from how he'd been hit, and I guess he knew the back had taken the worst hit, so understandably he was probably terrified). I said I was (a lie) and we managed to kill the engine and put the hand break on since we'd began to roll back, (My mum wasn't in any condition to do anything right then; what they don't tell you about airbags is that they dislocate your thumbs when they go off, and her being the driver got the brunt of it).

Thankfully the fire brigade and ambulances were there in record time, they pried open the bonnet, sprayed some foam on the engine, cut us out of the car and then got us off to hospital and thankfully we were all eventually okay; we consider ourselves lucky to be alive to be honest, especially myself. This is what the inside of the car looked like when we later revisited it.

image

So having gone through that I was pretty terrified of driving, which was a true obstacle because I was already apprehensive about learning to drive which I hadn't yet done. What made matters worse was that I had nightmares about the crash fro a long time afterwards, nights where I'd wake up gasping for air whilst sweating buckets. It took me 4 and a half years to get over that and I started taking my lessons when I was 22, I passed my driving test a few weeks back just before my 23rd birthday.

How did I overcome it? It's sounds stupid and possibly even too simple, but I was fed up, I was absolutely sick of living in fear and it was really pissing me off. So much so that I was just thoroughly tired and fed up with the whole situation, so tired that I began to feel numb about the whole thing, and then it wasn't so bad. I'd come to realize that I couldn't let that fear rule my life, and I was so fed up with it that it was almost like I didn't care anymore, and then one day I just said "FUCK IT!" I'm gunna do it and I did. It wasn't easy at first and it was pretty nerve wracking to take the first step, but it got better once I'd broken the ice and seen it wasn't so bad after all, and then I felt silly for being so stupid for so long, and now it doesn't bother me at all. So in the end I guess it was just time that cured me, time and not wanting something to rule my life, but hey if I can drive after what happened to me, then there's no reason you can't. The only thing that's stopping you is you, the only person who can conquer your fear is yourself.

shwnbob:
Hey, everyone.
So, this might sound a little stupid, but I'm absolutely terrified of driving in a car. I've been able to avoid getting my license for three years now, but my parents are starting to get on my case about it now, completely ignoring me when I tell them of my phobia of getting behind the wheel of a car. I mean seriously, cars, in the wrong hands anyway, are speeding metal death traps that can take/ruin lives in a split second. If you fuck up once while driving a car you can total another persons car and be forced to pay for repairs for months at a time. And yet, everyone raves about how great driving is and judges you intensely if your past the age of seventeen and don't have your drivers license yet.
I don't understand any of it. I mean, I kind of understand why people judge you if you can't drive. Having your license, I guess, must be like an initiation into adulthood or something. But, more to the point, how do people get over that terrifying fear that they may kill someone every time they sit down to drive to a convenient store down the street? Do any of you who drive have any tips for someone like me to help me get past my fears? I'm almost twenty-one so I feel like I should be able to drive, but whenever I go to learn I get really scared and nervous and it's very frustrating.

Seriously mate, get it done - it's such a MASSIVE step in expanding how much you can do with your life you simply have to.

If you're really that scared take it step by step and just drive in suburbs and quiet areas at first until you feel comfortable to move on. You need to remember that millions of ordinary people do it every day and it's really no big deal at all, it can just seem that way until you start doing it.

If you want avoid city centers and motorways until you've grasped the basics, but don't avoid them forever either. They really aren't that bad, but admittedly they can bit a tad confusing to start with.

You sound very afraid of driving, and honestly, you're already at an advantage. I have very little fear of driving because I rode nothing but a bicycle until I was 28. Try taking your life into your hands every time you have to get somewhere and then you'll understand. This gave me an almost preternatural understanding of driving to the point where I feel psychic while driving a car. There isn't a day where I don't think to myself, "That guy's going to cut me off," and he does. I'm telling you, it's true. And all I had to do was ride a bike for 25 or so years (and get hit by cars twice).

Accidents happen. There's no avoiding that. But are there things you can do to ensure that, should an accident occur, you will be better prepared for it. All I will say to you at this point is this:

Think of your personal behavior when you're alone. Now think of how you would act if surrounded by strangers. It would be different, right? Now take that mindset and apply it to when you're driving a car. Except this time, there should be no difference between your driving test and how you drive in real life when it comes to following the rules. Take that careful, measured behavior and make it all into habit. Every. Time. Learn that behavior. Turn it into muscle memory.

Example: Before changing lanes, don't just check the mirrors, quickly turn your head to check your blindspot. Then signal. SIGNAL. A signal should not be a declaration of "I'm going here, bitch, whether you like it or not." A signal is a declaration of intent. Every driver is a person, and people are social creatures. When we can't see peoples' faces, we can't read their body language or hear the intonations of their words. That's why it's so easy to get angry at someone on the road. Therefore we have to get across as much information as we can without words while we're driving. So use those signal lights.

The test doesn't end once you get your license. Every time you drive it will be a test. And believe me when I say that, considering how bad traffic is today, that's not just poor pop psychology, it's the truth.

Ahah, I'm absolutely the same. Thank you for sharing! Now I don't feel myself alone with this problem!

I was just as terrified at first, and the first few months were pretty horrible, nearly caused a few accidents which really left me startled but the good thing about experiencing such horrid situations is that you quickly learn to NEVER do that ever again, ultimately making you a much more competent driver.

Stick your head out and ask around for decent driving instructors, they help a crap ton when it comes to nailing the basics down and also generally help prepare you for the drivers licence test. I was an absolute nervous wreck when I started my driving lessons but my confidence grew by leaps and bounds after every lesson.

I can't stress enough how important it is to actually learn driving, you do not know the true extent of freedom and independence until you've gained the ability to go wherever the hell you want, whenever the hell you want. It also helps greatly in nearly every part of your life; potential employers will like you more, you won't feel like a nub if your significant other wants to go out and you can't do jack shit since you have no driving skills and the list goes on.

Start in an area with little to no traffic. Get use to controlling a car first. You can find a good driving instructor, or use your parents or friends. Learn the roads so you can avoid the areas you don't like driving (like expressways if going fast scares you) it's also a lot less scary when you know where you are going. Lastly do it anyways. I've been driving for 5 years and I still am scared and hate it, but where I live public transportation doesn't exist so you NEED a car. Sometimes you got to do what you got to do, whether you like it or not.

I was also unsure of myself when I first got behind the wheel. Like you, I also delayed getting my license.

I can give you the tips that have worked for me. All these I found out for myself, and I can guarantee that they do work.

1. Think of all the people who CAN drive. This isn't meant to make you afraid of the idiots on the road, it's simply an observation that for 100 years people who are much less intelligent than you have managed to maneuver a vehicle safely and without incident their whole lives. So if you're in the category of people who are concerned about driving safety, rest assured that you are probably already a much more intelligent driver than many. I remember thinking to myself, "If THEY can do it, then I can do it."

2. If you're afraid of something, make it your specialty. It's easy to get trapped into this line of thinking: "I am afraid of driving. But part of me wants to drive. Okay then, I'll only drive JUST well enough, JUST far enough, and JUST as much as I have to." Instead, try this: "I am afraid of driving. Therefore, I'm not just going to learn how to drive, but I'm going to be a better driver than anyone I know, I'm going to know exactly what is under the hood of my car and how to fix it, I'll know exactly how weather conditions affect the traction of my tires, and when I give people a ride, there's going to be a no-horseplay, seatbelts-on rule in my car, and my friends are going to know me as the SAFE driver." There are advanced driving courses out there where professional track drivers teach you how to handle a car around a closed course. After doing laps at 60+ with an instructor, your local highway is going to be a cakewalk.

3. Driving in traffic is about HARMONY, not COMPETITION. Realize that the way our roads, signals and signs are set up in a beautiful way. Just think for a moment about how everything works in harmony, the system is designed so no matter where you want to go, there is a safe, designated opening for you to turn. If there are four people at a four way stop, they let each other take turns clockwise. Driving is not about shoving yourself into the space between two cars like musical chairs. You signal, then wait for the other driver to make space for you, then turn in safely. If someone is merging, and you see that they need room, you slow down and let them in. The roads are like the circulatory system, each car gets to where it needs to go not through competition but cooperation.

Hope that helps, man. And from personal experience, things are never as scary as they seem.

Focus on the positive skills you have that can make you a better driver. Do you have good judgement? quick reaction time? stay cool under pressure? whatever skills you think help make someone a better driver focus on those. If you become more confident in your ability to control the vehicle you will become less afraid of driving and it will seem less of an inability.

Also disregard every video game you may have ever played that had a car in it, driving is nothing like that (though those games CAN improve your reaction times)

shwnbob:
Hey, everyone.
snip

I was admittedly terrified of driving. Many common roads have 45 mph speed limits, in both directions, with no separation between the opposing lanes. Since most people go 5 over hitting an on coming car in that situation would be like hitting an unmovable wall at 50mph (according to newtons law). Its a very scary thought.

I had to ignore my fears and just drive. After a few years I really don't think about it anymore and I've become a good driver. You will find that your body will work faster than your mind. This is due to muscle memory. In the simplest of terms you will attempt to avoid the accident without even thinking about it.

In the end, you NEED a car. Public transportation can be on a set schedule that is not ideal for your life and taxis are expensive. Also, you put a lot of responsibility and stress on any future relationships as they will be forced to drive you everywhere.

I'd say start in a parking lot, work your way to residential side streets, then move on to normal roads. If you think you can handle it try the highway towards the beginning after you get used to the personality of the car. Believe it or not while you are going faster, highways are generally much easier to drive on that your average city roads. All cars move in one direction and you always know when people will be turning on or off the highway (the right lane). Keeping high rises and bridges for last as they can get pretty intense on the mind.

Good luck and trust me, you can overcome your fears if you just let go and do it for a while.

When I was younger I never wanted to drive. I could never hold the gas peddle steady, couldn't tell where my outside tire was, etc. I didn't get my license until I was 16, which is early compared to some in this thread, but being a farm boy who grew up driving farm vehicles and lived 25 miles outside of town, not having a license was a hassle. Also, at the time, the area I lived in was a small population and don't have any of the busy traffic some are accustomed to. Prior to getting my license, I got a c- on my driving course. This was alarming to me since my worst grade ever in school was a B.

Two things helped me overcome my fear orcwhatevervitcwas I had against driving;

Driving on ice: I almost careened off the side of a bridge my junior year of high school due to the ice on the road. I also went into the other lane with a semi coming at me on an icy road. However, I came away unscathed. The major reason was The Lord up above, but the second reason I had a part in was constantly getting a feel for the ice by screwing around in my manual 100 up colt and pulling the e brake, which led to hilarity and good tines with friends, especially when "dragging" mains. This allowed me to not only get comfortable with the vehicle but also the conditions.

Driving a semi or pickups with trailers: Its one thing when you're in a pickup, car, etc, but when you're in a semi, every instance you better be paying attention, cause it won't necessarily be you tgat gets hurt, but other drivers or innocent bystanders. Stopping a semi and learning to take corners gave me a whole new respect for semi drivers and the rules of the road. While semi drivers can make huge mistakes as well, they generally have quite a bit larger responsibility on their hands, cause cars, maintenance pending, can stop and turn on a dime, and SUVs, vans, pickups not far behind, but semis or other long hauls not so much.

If it helps, remember that the general mindset of each driver is or will be at sone point in there life is to be careful and respect others on the road as they would themselves. If you never want to drive, so be it, but the reason being fear shouldn't be the case, cause if there one thing I've learned from my instances, it is if you're doing your best even in a bad situation, it will ultimately strengthen you and build up your trust not only in yourself but others as well, in this case you driving and other drivers :)

Ps: If you're still having trouble, try the cockpit view of racing games and just play around with your speed and spacing, it actually helped me ;)

I believe that a fear of cars is like a fear of roller coasters.

I used to be deathly afraid of roller coasters, but just yesterday I rode Levithian in Canada's Wonderland.

And I used to be TERRIFIED of roller coasters.

And you know how I overcame that fear?

You just ride it. Once you do it once, you realize that it's acutally really fun and awesome, and you would love to do it all the time!

After that first scare, you realize, hey, this is acutally awesome! How was I afraid of this before?

Well, that is how things went like for me. I hope my personal story helps you!

Start as soon as you can to remove that fear as early as you can. Start small, on a scale you can manage. Manoeuvre at very slow speed in first gear around a car park and get a good feel for the controls and be conservative with the force you use on the gas pedal. For things like winding your way around little obstacles and finding your way through a service station parking area, you probably won't even need any gas, just keep it in first gear and use the clutch to control your speed. Your speed will increase with confidence. You are the captain of the ship, so learn how it handles.

Just remember to practice extensively outside of lessons and be aware of those around you - hazards, both potential and developing, are taken very seriously by the examiners. Make your intentions clear to everyone and keep your driving smooth and regular. You'll soon find yourself being able to tell what speed you are doing just by the sound of your engine, so you won't be staring at the speedometer and can just take a quick glance before looking at more important things.

Everything on the road should be treated as a test, since you never know what may appear around the next corner. You must show that you recognise a potential danger up ahead and can act promptly and safely, stay within your own lane, follow road markings and signs competently and maintain control of your vehicle. Don't panic, take it nice and easy so you have plenty of time to think and react appropriately - with increased speed, you need to learn to respond before you run out of room.

EDIT: Be gentle with the clutch so you don't end up stalling the car (this is usually preceded by an increased growling and juddering from the vehicle. If you do stall, remember to apply the handbrake before fixing it). My old instructor frequently said during hill-starts, "depress the pedal a tiny bit now, just about the width of a pound coin." You will be surprised at the sort of control you can get from the car just by applying the gentlest amount of pressure. It's like petting a mouse.

I knew a lot of people like you described when I was at boarding school. By now, their overconfidence has probably cost them several hundred pounds in insurance claims at least. They seemed to have a competitive attitude to driving, a potentially deadly mistake.

You know, buddy, you're going to get A LOT of people saying "I was the exact same way," myself included.
Well, maybe not exactly the same but I was pretty nervous. I took obscenely long pauses at stop signs and even slowing down at green lights because I was worried somebody else wouldn't know what they were doing.
Anyway.
There's a reason we're all saying it takes practice, it's cliche because it's true.
After you're first time driving somewhere by yourself, it'll be like butter. Well, it was for me, it might be sooner for you, it might be later, but it'll happen.

And the captcha is an ad for Progressive.
C'mon, captcha, don't take advantage of this guy.

good news. you are someone who deserves to be on the road!
only morons don't realize that a car is a potentially dangerous object (weapon) in the wrong hands.
use your respect for the potential hazard of driving a car to become a good driver.

I used to feel the same way you do about driving. I still feel very nervous crossing the street and walking near areas with high speed limits, but that's another story for another time. I do not love driving and I could care less about the appearance or the power of the engine of my car. The best way to begin driving is to go with a parent to a very large empty parking lot where you can practice driving in large circles/rounded rectangles. Manual is far more stressful, so I recommend you practice with an automatic transmission for quite a while first.

The parking lot will give you a feeling of how sensitive that car's pedals are. The next step is learning how to properly drive in reverse and back out of a parking spot without hitting anyone. Once you've mastered these you will drive in larger streets with 25-35 mile-per-hour streets with other cars in mild traffic. Practice changing lanes and doing U-turns in appropriate areas. Finally go on the highway. As scary as that part will seem, once you have been driving 20-30 minutes without changing speeds, going back down to a more reasonable speed limit will feel like slow-motion to you.

Let's review the stuff that I didn't cover:
1. Get your eyesight checked in case you need glasses to drive safely.
2. DO NOT go beyond the parking lot stage before you have your driving permit or else you could get pulled over.
3. While learning, try not to learn from multiple cars. Stick to one car for your practice and lessons.
4. If you ever have any problems that can't be helped by a driving instructor or a parent, then remember that you can always ask the internet.
5. Knowing how to be a responsible driver will boost your confidence.
6. Look into learning how to drive a manual transmission car if you have access to one. You don't want to accidentally blow up an engine when you NEED to drive such a car, so why put the learning stage off?

The fact that you're nervous about it is, actually, a positive thing. You'll naturally become more comfortable over time doing it, but the nerves give you a level of vigilance in your driving that is a benefit. I've only been driving myself for a year or so and I'm currently working on maintaining the good level of awareness I had when it was new to me now that I'm more comfortable with it. Once having eyes in the back of your head becomes second nature, things become easier.

For me, my father explained the actions of other people on the road well:

"You can't hesitate."
"why the hell not?! *agitated due to misjudging the length of a yellow light and having to stop quickly*"
"because they can smell fear."
"This is DRIVING not a goddamn patch of the Serengeti!"
"Look: you're not in the wrong to be cautious when you drive. Other people just become really aggressive when they get behind the wheel. They forget that everyone was new to this at some point. You have all the time in the world to get where you're going. If they wanna pass you? Let 'em pass you. They wanna honk and yell? Not your fault they left their house five minutes before an appointment in a place that it takes them fifteen minutes to get to."

It was terrifying for me at first partially because I didn't completely trust myself, but I mostly didn't trust others, pedestrians included. Just focus on getting used to things. You'll get a feel for coloring inside the lines (staying in your own lane, parking spot, etc.), you'll learn to be aware, all that good stuff. It merely takes time and practice.

Also: don't worry too much when it comes to taking an actual road test. As someone pointed out to me: "They don't expect you to be flawless, they just expect you to be able to get from Point A to Point B safely, just like the rest of the world does."

I will also endorse NightmareWarden's point about NOT learning on multiple cars. I bounced between two while I learned and still do. It drives me nuts. Gas tanks are on opposite sides, shifter's in two different places, all kinds of fun annoyances.

 

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