Fear of Accidents? How to Get Back Behind the Wheel

Guest Post

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Dystychiphobia is defined as a fear of accidents. This form of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is characterized by a person’s thought that they may damage property or the environment or injure themselves, their families or others as the result of having an accident. Some people who have experienced one or many vehicle collisions can develop this disorder.

Fear is a very powerful emotion. Its primitive nature alerts humans to the presence of danger and has been critical in keeping ancestors alive. It can be divided into two stages: biochemical and emotional. Biochemical responses are universal, while emotional responses are highly individualized. When confronted with perceived dangers, the human body responds in very specific ways.

Reactions to Fear

The physical response is at times referred to as a classic fight or flight reaction, when the body prepares for combat or to make a hasty exit. Emotional responses to panic can also occur in relation to personalized deliberate actions such as watching horror movies, playing video games or other thrill seeking activities.

Physical reactions to PTSD may include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Higher adrenaline level
  • Nausea
  • Palpitations
  • Feeling of choking

Emotional Issues

Some people who develop this disorder have pronounced fear avoidance due to a specific incident, such as having a car or other accident. Additionally, a near accident experience that could have resulted in an injury or tragedy may trigger the disorder.

People who have experienced car accidents as the result of negligence can also succumb to this disorder. Price Benowitz LLP mentions, “Those who are at fault for the auto accident should demonstrate financial accountability for their careless, negligent, or reckless actions.” Their lack of caution can severely impact people’s lifestyles such that they try to avoid many activities in addition to driving.

Examples of situations many will avoid are:

  • Risky jobs
  • Atmospheric conditions
  • Tiring work schedules
  • Family gatherings

Overcoming the Fear

There are some ways that people can eradicate this type of phobia so that they may return to living life happily and get back behind the wheel. A wide variety of therapies and treatments can include:

  • Speaking with a doctor or psychotherapist can assist people in overcoming their fear of driving. Professional counselors can usually recommend appropriate methods to lessen a sufferer’s symptoms.
  • Cognitive therapy primarily focuses upon changing habits using a step by step, gradual strategy including eliminating negative thinking patterns.
  • Behavioral therapy uses positive behavior teaching methods, while helping to erase undesirable negative behaviors.
  • Having a strong family network to rely on and be there for encouragement and care. Family support will be a great asset to get you back on the road.
  • Phobias are often successfully treated by using exposure therapy so that sufferers face objects of concern in controlled situations until it is overcome. This can be beneficial in gradually helping to relieve associated anxieties.

Anyone who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder as a result of an auto accident should seek the advice of a competent attorney. If negligence is a factor in the case, there may be compensatory damages to recover for loss of income, medical bills, emotional distress and for treating the traumatic condition. In this way, those who suffer from such an unfortunate disorder can ensure that their rights are fully protected.

Writer Ieda Vincent had been in a severe auto accident that left her afraid to drive for many months and only with time to heal was she able to overcome her fears. Price LLP has skilled attorneys that are trained in a variety of negligence cases. They can guide you through the legal process to make sure you obtain a just and reasonable outcome.


  1. I wonder if my son no longer rides his bike because he was hit while riding one.

  2. I had an accident and my uncle said “You wanna make an omelet? You have to crack some eggs” and I was basically forced to get behind the wheel again 🙂

  3. My son has been in a couple minor accidents since he started driving last year. I’m pretty much a nervous wreck when he drives.

  4. I was in a very bad accident years ago and it was a long while before I was comfortable behind the wheel again.

  5. I’ve known a few people who have driving issues after a bad accident.

  6. Eek. I have a bit of paranoia even though I’ve never been in a major accident. Good tips.

  7. I didn’t get into an accident of any sort, but this fear does describe my emotions on driving quite well. I did, however, almost have an accident. I think that family members need to be understanding about this fear, too. It’s very hurtful when they criticize you for it. (Or me, at least.)

  8. My daughter’s friend was in a horrific accident several years ago and can’t bring himself to get behind the wheel again. He’s seriously traumatized by what he experienced and saw that day.

  9. I still deal with issues behind the wheel and my accident was over 20 years ago but I’m more cautious with my kids in the car and I’m constantly watching out for those distracted drivers 🙁

  10. Thankfully I have never been in a serious accident but I had anxiety after simply being rear, ended so I can only imagine.

  11. Luckily I have never been in an accident, but I live in fear of them each time I get behind the wheel.

  12. in 2007 I was in a really bad accident and to this day I still get scared driving sometimes. It’s such a horrible feeling. When the accident happened I wouldn’t drive for months even after I was cleared that I was healthy and healed enough to do so.

  13. After my husband got in a crash with me it took me forever to get back in the car.. The fear of a car coming into my door always frightens me now. If I didn’t have my seat belt and air bag I may not have been alive now.

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