Driving with confidence: overcoming fear of the road

Whether you’ve had a bad driving experience in the past, or you find yourself feeling anxious on the road, just being behind the wheel can cause some people to experience severe anxiety. Often, this is due to an accident, where people lose their road confidence completely and avoid getting behind the wheel again. Moreover, a nervous driver can actually increase the risk of accidents, so it’s really important to overcome your fears, so you can feel confident when you are on the road. Being able to drive gives you the ability to be independent. Therefore, when you lose your driving confidence, this often results in a loss of independence too.

Our lead Therapist and Counsellor, Mark Evans, has worked with many clients suffering from driving anxiety. In this article, we look at some real-life cases where Mark has helped people to overcome their fears and return to the road:

Ruth’s story: fear of motorways

Ruth wanted to start driving on motorways again because she wanted to see her three children more often. Ruth also wanted to help her husband with his share of the driving on their regular road trips to Devon. Firstly, I looked at her use of the word ‘again’, asking when she stopped being able to drive on the motorway. It transpired that Ruth had been frightened by a large horn blast from a passing lorry.

Seeking to gain a better understanding of the incident, I discovered that Ruth had been driving on a busy motorway that day, and I asked why she felt that the lorry was blasting his horn at her, rather than someone else. As soon as Ruth replied, ‘Well, who else would it have been?’, I could see the realisation dawning from her reaction that she had avoided motorway driving based on an assumption. I call this ‘a belief without evidence.’ Therefore, I worked with Ruth to create an overall strategy to get her back to driving on the motorway. Ruth’s realisation that her beliefs Ire unfounded enabled her to move past her fear and she returned to driving on the motorways again.

Eric’s story: regaining driving confidence

Eric came to see me 10 months after his wife of 60 years had passed away. Understandably, he was struggling with his loss.

“The trouble is, we did everything together. She was my social confidence.’

When it came to our third session, Eric started talking about driving holidays to Spain that he would regularly undertake with his late wife. Vividly describing his road trips, Eric relayed his European explorations between his home city of Leicester and Cadiz, where they had a property. I asked Eric whether he had any plans to go again, and this caused Eric to pause and respond, ‘What on my own?’ to which I replied, ‘Yes, on your own.’

Eric cancelled his fifth appointment, so I contacted him to see if he was okay. To my delight, he not only responded to say that he was very well, but that he was setting off to Spain the following week to enjoy an open-ended holiday. The reason he didn’t make contact was due to the fact he was busy saying his goodbyes to his friends and family – I wished Eric well in view of his forthcoming adventures.

‘I used to do this together and I thought I’d never do it again – the counselling has given me this.”

Amelia’s story: overcoming driving test nerves

Amelia came to see me as she needed help passing her driving test. As a newly qualified solicitor, she was being driven to work by her parents, which was neither practical for her parents nor desirable for Amelia. As a Human Givens therapist, Amelia knew that I offered Guided Imagery, which is a mental exercise routinely used by people needing to perform to high standards, e.g. sportsmen/women, public speakers and anyone seeking to perform well in a test situation.

Research and studies show that when human beings rehearse behaviours in their imagination, this helps to lay down neural pathways that correspond to these actual behaviours. When the person comes to perform a specific behaviour, the brain asks, ‘What does my owner usually do in this situation?’ and then uses these ‘mental rehearsals’ as a guide. Amelia’s problem was due to the fact that her ‘mental rehearsals’ were driving test failures.

So, over a few sessions, I guided Amelia’s imagination to visualise herself confidently passing her driving test. Two weeks after our last session, Amelia called me to say she had passed her test and she was now happily driving to work, ‘Listening to Little Mix at top volume!’.

Getting support to overcome your fear of driving

The above cases are just a small sample of instances where Mark has helped people to overcome their driving fears and return to the road. Every person is different with a different set of experiences. At Conversations With Impact, using a variety of techniques tailored specifically to an individual’s problems, we help our clients to overcome issues, such as driving-related anxiety, so they can become confident drivers and regain their independence.

If you’re a nervous driver who lacks road confidence, then please get in touch. We now offer a package aimed at building a driver’s confidence. Together, we will reduce your anxiety, so you can get back on the road and feel confident behind the wheel.