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Overcoming Your Fear of Driving After a Car Accident

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fear of driving after a car accident

After a car accident, you may be left with a permanent physical disability and emotional trauma that makes you terrified to ever get behind the wheel again. Even if you were fortunate enough to recover from any injuries you sustained, the fear of driving that you can develop after an accident can quickly consume your life. For some people, even being in a car after an accident puts them on edge, and the anxiety they live through day after day makes everyday commuting a nightmare. If you need to overcome your fear of driving after a car accident or you want help a loved one who does, read on for some helpful advice.

Come to Terms with the Accident

No matter who is at fault, you have to give yourself the freedom that comes from acceptance. You may be repressing much of what happened, and it’s important that you let yourself acknowledge the fear you had during that time. Once you accept this fear, it will become easier to move past it.

You won’t suddenly go back to feeling the way you did before your car accident, but you don’t have to. You can still drive safely and comfortably even with some anxiety in the back of your mind. What’s important is that you develop healthy coping strategies so you can begin to move on with your life.

Go Back to Basics

When you were first learning to drive, you probably practiced in a parking lot. Ask a friend or family member to accompany you to one and just get comfortable maneuvering a vehicle again. Choose a parking lot that isn’t heavily congested; school parking lots on a weekend are a good choice.

As you sit behind the wheel, take some deep breaths and let your body fully settle into the driver’s seat. Some people may feel like they just have to force fear out of their minds and immediately start driving, but this can pose a higher risk of having a panic attack later.

Talk to Professionals

You have probably already spoken with a physician, but have you considered looking up a car accident doctor who is familiar with the physical and emotional after-effects of being in a crash?

You should also consider talking to a therapist or counselor. Your fear of driving again may stem from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Some of the symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Reliving the traumatic event through intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, and nightmares
  • Feeling empty or emotionally “numb”
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Avoiding people, places, or anything that reminds you of the traumatic event
  • Repeated nightmares about the event
  • Psychological and physical responses to reminders of the event, i.e. anxiety or panic attack

Final Thoughts

Recovering from a car accident can take months or even years. Although you may be afraid to get behind the wheel again, it’s important to find healthy ways to process the accident and begin to move forward. If you’ve found it too difficult to do this on your own, there’s no shame in speaking to a therapist who can help.

About the Author

Anica Oaks is a freelance writer who hails from San Francisco. When she’s not writing, she’s enjoying her time outside with her dogs. Anica recommends a car accident doctor for your needs. Keep up with her on Twitter @anicaoaks

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