What Is Vehophobia?

June 13, 2022 | Article by Chain | Cohn | Clark staff

Due to the frequency of driving in everyday life, if you yourself have not been in a car accident, you almost certainly know somebody who has. Whether they are with another car, a tree, or a mailbox, vehicle collisions are scary. 

We often downplay the power of automobiles because we’ve become so accustomed to them, but that doesn’t make them any less dangerous. In fact, road deaths hit an all-time high in 2021

While no driver wants to be involved in a collision, there are some drivers who have a phobia of car accidents. These individuals may even avoid driving altogether to prevent the chances of getting into an accident. If you are scared of driving after an accident, you may have developed a condition referred to as ‘vehophobia.’

Vehophobia Definition

In the simplest terms, vehophobia is the fear of driving. Individuals who suffer with vehophobia feel extreme anxiety and stress whenever they are operating a car on the road. While vehophobia is often caused by a traumatic accident, there are individuals with vehophobia that have not been involved in a crash.

Vehophobia is a difficult condition to live with because driving is such an integral part of today’s society. Those around you may not understand how intense the panic can get. But you are not alone. Thousands of Americans battle with vehophobia to differing degrees. Some individuals may only be scared of certain aspects–like highway, city, or night driving–while others may be too scared to even ride in a vehicle as a passenger. 

What Causes Vehophobia?

Vehophobia after an accident is typically viewed as a variation of post-traumatic stress disorder, which is why it’s sometimes referred to as ‘driving PTSD.’ Driving PTSD typically occurs as a result of being involved in a serious crash. However, there are many other reasons that a fear of driving can develop over time. 

Here are some of the less obvious causes of vehophobia:

  • Growing up with parents or guardians who were nervous in the car
  • Having a driving instructor who is too strict or anxious
  • A near-collision with a large animal
  • Witnessing a severe accident
  • Experiencing road rage from another driver
  • Constantly watching or reading about accidents in media
  • Driving in dangerous weather conditions (snow, high wind, heavy rain, etc.)
  • Nearly escaping a dangerous accident on the road

The fear of being in a car accident is a legitimate concern. Vehicle collisions have taken many people’s lives over the years. However, if you are following the rules and anticipating dangerous situations, driving can be a safe and effective way to get around. 

Somebody without the ability to drive may experience many obstacles in their daily life. If you develop vehophobia from an accident with someone else, you may be able to receive additional benefits from a car accident lawsuit.

Hire a Bakersfield car accident lawyer for help recovering non-compensatory damages from a liable party. 

How Does Vehophobia Develop?

Depending on the cause, vehophobia can be very subtle or happen all at once. If you experience the fear in the moments of an accident that you or someone you love could die, you may not be able to go near the driver’s seat for months after a crash. You may instantly swear off driving because you no longer feel comfortable and safe on the road. 

If your vehophobia is a product of hearing crash stories or your parents constantly reinforcing the dangers of driving, it may exhibit a slower onset. At first, you might avoid driving during harsh conditions; you may start asking others to drive as often as possible. Eventually, you may reach a point where you haven’t driven in months and feel out of practice. This could lead you to avoid driving indefinitely. 

The earlier you notice your vehophobia setting in, the better chances you have of preventing its manifestation. Similar to other phobias, the longer it is avoided, the worse it becomes. 

Vehophobia Symptoms

Individuals with any form of vehophobia should be able to recognize it. Once you are aware of what you are going through, it becomes easier to deal with when given the proper tools. 

The symptoms of vehophobia are very much like those of anxiety. If you experience the following while driving, you may have vehophobia:

  • Sweating
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Trembling
  • Increased heart rate
  • Panic attacks
  • Quick or shallow breathing
  • Constantly tense muscles
  • Excessive fear of losing control

Another sign of vehophobia is that you are always trying to find excuses not to drive.

People with vehophobia may also hold other extreme driving-related fears. Overlapping phobias might include amaxophobia, the fear of riding in or being in a vehicle; hodophobia, the fear of traveling; and claustrophobia, the fear of tight spaces with no obvious exit.

Driving can sometimes be scary, so if you experience these symptoms every once in a while or only during stressful driving situations (busy traffic, dangerous weather conditions, etc.), these may be normal reactions. 

However, if you are dealing with these symptoms frequently and even when driving in low-stress situations, you likely have some degree of vehophobia. Werecommend that you seek help as soon as possible to prevent your fear of driving from growing. 

How to get Over Driving Anxiety After an Accident

There are a variety of treatments for vehophobia. While most afflicted individuals find ways to avoid driving or riding in cars, those additional measures can seriously limit your quality of life. 

Some of the more popular and effective ways to overcome the fear of driving are listed below.

  • Therapy: One of the most common and helpful treatments for anxiety is seeking professional help. Most therapists will use a mix of cognitive and behavioral strategies to help you cope with your anxiety and alter your ability to handle the stress caused by driving.
  • Support groups: This involves an online or in-person group of people that have similar experiences and feelings to you. Finding a group of people who also experience vehophobia can help you realize where your issues lie and motivate you to overcome your fear as you see others doing the same. Social support is one of the most effective ways to improve your well-being because others will hold you accountable. 
  • Defensive driving classes: Vehophobia can often be traced to someone’s doubt in their own ability to drive safely. Defensive driving courses can help you learn how to be more aware of other drivers and prepare for dangerous surprises. The confidence supplied by defensive driving tactics can help someone handle their fear of accidents.
  • Medication: Medication is not intended to be a permanent solution for phobias. You may need to take medication to overcome debilitating anxiety, but you should still seek professional help from a therapist.
  • Exposure therapy: This method involves incremental exposure to the feared stimulus until the individual can control their emotions. This may start with playing driving games or simulated experiences and slowly progress towards driving a real vehicle. This form of therapy is often coupled with cognitive-behavioral therapy for best results. 
  • Hypnotherapy: Hypnotherapy is a less popular method often used to explore an individual’s deep traumas or anxieties. This may be used with victims of serious crashes to allow them to confront their memories directly.

For anybody recovering from vehophobia it’s important to remember that the process takes time. Best practices do not include hopping in the car and challenging yourself to do what you’re most afraid of. 

Contact a professional and seek help for your issues if you truly wish to remedy your condition.

Can Vehophobia Affect Pedestrians?

Severe cases of vehophobia can translate into the fear of cars in general. If you don’t trust yourself while driving, you may not even feel comfortable walking down the street next to moving vehicles. 

In the same vein, if you are hit by a vehicle while walking, you may develop a fear of driving or car accidents as a result. If you are hit by a vehicle in California, hire one of our Bakersfield pedestrian accident lawyers to pursue a personal injury claim. 

How Chain | Cohn | Clark Can Help Individuals With Vehophobia

If you have a fear of car accidents because you were involved in a car crash where somebody else was negligent, you may be able to pursue additional compensation for your trauma. 

Not being able to drive can drastically impact your quality of life. When recovering non-compensatory damages from a car accident lawsuit, attorneys will often look at long-term trauma or changes to quality of life as a factor. These additional benefits could go towards receiving therapy, taking defensive driving classes, or other accommodations to help you address your vehophobia.

The Chain | Cohn | Clark team has decades of experience representing residents of Kern County and the surrounding area. Our team of car accident attorneys is dedicated to protecting you and making sure you get the compensation you deserve. Call us at (661) 616-9829 or fill out the contact form on our website for a free case evaluation.