What Is Vehophobia? Understanding and Overcoming the Fear of Driving

By Ben Gobel on May 14, 2024

People Putting Hands On A Car Window

Car accidents are often terrifying since they happen in mere seconds. After this type of traumatic experience, some car accident victims experience an irrational and intense fear of driving. 

This is called vehophobia and can impact every aspect of your life. If you develop vehophobia after a car accident that was caused by another person’s negligent driving behaviors, you may be able to seek compensation through a personal injury claim. 

Ogg, Murphy & Perkosky, P.C. is a leading personal injury law firm that focuses on car accident cases in Pittsburgh, PA. This informative blog post answers the question, “What is vehophobia?” and addresses how it can be overcome along with your options for legal recourse with the help of a car accident lawyer.

What Is Vehophobia and Why Does it Happen?

Vehophobia, like other phobias, is a response to a traumatic event. In this case, it is the fear of driving, which often occurs after a car accident. It is a form of post-traumatic stress disorder that often creates a debilitating fear that is traumatic experience-related.

Vehophobia occurs in varying degrees. Some people may only experience anxiety when they need to take the highway or certain roads, such as where their accident occurred. Others may have severe anxiety from post-accident vehophobia that makes them too afraid to even ride in a car as a passenger. 

Even mild vehophobia can be disruptive to your life. While it is a normal response for victims of car crashes to be apprehensive afterward, you must seek treatment to overcome vehophobia. Specific phobias like these can impact your everyday life, even when you’re not behind the wheel. If another driver caused this fear by causing your physical injuries, you could benefit from discussing your case with a personal injury lawyer. You will be able to seek compensation to cover your medical bills, including those for mental health services, as well as your other financial losses. 

Common Symptoms of Vehophobia

While some people may experience anxiety symptoms after an auto accident, it is not the same as vehophobia. The symptoms of vehophobia are far more intense.

If you have recently been in an accident and notice any of the following symptoms, it is essential that you start seeking treatment through a mental health professional.

Shaking

Trembling hands or legs when you are trying to get behind the wheel is often the first indication that you may have developed a fear of driving.

Shallow Breaths

The intense anxiety you feel may make it hard for you to draw in proper breaths. Your breathing patterns may be shallow and erratic.

Excessive Sweating

Even when it’s cold outside, you may experience such an acute fear of being on the road that you break into a sweat.

Rapid Heart Rate

Some people experience an increased heart rate just thinking about driving. 

Panic Attacks

A person’s fear can cause them to experience panic attacks, which are common with anxiety disorders like vehophobia.

Chest Pain

Your chest may tighten, causing you pain. Additionally, other muscles may tense up, making it hard for you to relax when faced with driving or getting into a car.

Avoidance

In your daily life, you may do everything you can to avoid driving, such as by asking family members for a ride. You may also avoid getting into a motor vehicle altogether by taking public transportation.

When the above symptoms impact a person’s ability to either get into a car as a passenger or as a driver, it is imperative that they treat vehophobia with the help of a licensed therapist.

Person Driving Through Traffic

Causes of the Intense and Irrational Fear Behind Vehophobia

Many people experience vehophobia after an accident, particularly if it was a serious crash. If you were severely injured and thought you may not survive, the emotional trauma of the event can cause you to develop this fear.

Other people develop vehophobia due to a painful memory, such as watching their parents act anxiously behind the wheel or being a witness to a serious accident in which someone dies. Driving in dangerous conditions may set off this fear, causing you to experience flashbacks. If you were in a road rage incident or encountered aggressive drivers, it could trigger this condition. 

In short, many different experiences could cause you to suffer vehophobia. If you were in an accident, you will require mental health services for your psychological trauma in addition to medical care for your physical injuries. Additionally, you should seek legal assistance from a car accident law firm to help you recover compensation for your physical, emotional, and financial damages. 

Treating Vehophobia After a Serious Car Accident

People who have vehophobia should get proper treatment to help them move forward. There are a variety of treatment options that can help. If you are experiencing vehophobia, you can also seek a free consultation from an attorney who will help guide you to professionals who can provide the treatment you need.

Here is a look at the different options that could be helpful in treating this condition:

Defensive Driving Class

Defensive driving courses can help you take your power back when you’re on the road. It’s one of the best coping strategies as it helps you to face your fears and safely practice driving with an expert. You’ll boost your confidence and learn how to drive safely despite the driving habits of other people.

Therapy Sessions

Most people who suffer from vehophobia can benefit from different types of therapy. Exposure therapy or virtual reality exposure therapy allows you to face your fear in a controlled environment. People also rely on cognitive behavioral therapy or talk therapy to work trhough the fear of driving.

Support Groups

Joining a support group may be helpful as you’ll connect with others who have shared experiences. It has long been said that there is strength in numbers, and meeting others who have vehophobia either for an in-person or online session, may help you work through your fears.

Prescription Drugs

In the short term, your doctor may issue medications that can help relieve your anxiety. However, it is imperative that you engage in other forms of therapy along with taking medication to learn how to cope and put vehophobia behind you.

When a car accident has terrified you to the point that you experience a fear of driving, it is essential that you take the steps needed to work through it. It may take many months of a combination of treatments to effectively help you stop vehophobia from preventing you from living a full and enjoyable life.

Vehicle Speeding Through Forest

Getting Help in the Aftermath of a Motor Vehicle Accident

Accidents are trauma-inducing for many reasons, and even if you do not sustain serious physical injuries, the event could leave you mentally scarred. You do not have to live with vehophobia as there are treatments that can successfully help you conquer your fears.

After a car accident, you should make sure that you get medical care immediately to manage your physical injuries. If you find that you experience the symptoms mentioned above, you shouldn’t delay speaking to a professional in mental health. When your accident was caused by a negligent driver, you have the right to seek compensation that will cover your medical expenses, including the treatments you need for vehophobia.

You should schedule a free consultation with a car accident lawyer at Ogg, Murphy & Perkosky, P.C. who will walk you through the legal process. They can also make sure that you get the treatments you need to work through vehophobia and understand all your legal options in this matter.