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Experts say these 5 things will help you overcome your fear of driving

Get back on the road with these tips.

Vehophobia: the fear of driving. You might suffer from it due to a recent car accident, or if you’ve been a victim of road rage, or maybe, you just never felt safe in cars. Whatever the reason, vehophobia can range from mild anxiety while driving; to a crippling fear of getting behind the wheel. And it’s not uncommon! If you are experiencing this phobia, here are five things you can do to help conquer your fear of driving.

1. Write down your fears.

Identifying the exact thing you’re afraid of is the first step in managing your fear. After all, the root of all anxiety is an exaggeration of the danger at hand and an underestimation of one’s ability to manage it. Some common anxiety-triggers are driving on the highway, going to new locations, or being stuck in traffic. Make a list of your fears and rank them hierarchically, from least to most fear-inducing. Then focus on tackling them one at a time, starting at the bottom of the list. If you suffer from very severe anxiety while driving, you may want to address these fears with a therapist.

2. Get the support you need.

If you are a new driver, or someone returning to driving after a traumatic experience or years of avoiding it, you may want to take defensive driving classes or find an instructor who can guide you through safe and careful driving techniques. Your stress may be related to bad driving habits or uncertainty of proper driving etiquette. Using a professional’s expertise to get rid of bad habits and reinforce safe ones may help ease you back into driving and build your confidence.

3. Start small and build your confidence slowly.

Try getting behind the wheel for short drives, during times when you know there won’t be a lot of traffic to deal with. Pick a destination that isn’t too far, and that you know how to get to. The idea is to eliminate any extra stress factors, like having to follow directions or deal with a lot of other drivers on the roads. Then make a routine of that drive to build up your confidence. Try driving to a nearby grocery store on Saturday mornings, or taking a weekly ride to a local cafe; both of these destinations also offer rewards at the end, which is extra incentive to make the journey.

4. Create a safe and calm environment in your car.

For those who are prone to feeling panicky, it’s important to remove distractions that might trigger feelings of stress or take your mind off of the task at hand: getting to your destination safely. Noisy passengers, trash, and an un-serviced vehicle may all contribute to feelings of anxiety while driving. Make sure your car is clean and uncluttered, has plenty of gas, and is up-to-date on repairs and oil changes to increase your sense of safety in your vehicle. Maybe you need quiet while driving, or you could try playing soothing music to calm your nerves.

5. Practice relaxation techniques.

If you feel rising anxiety or a panic attack coming on, try practicing relaxation techniques to calm yourself down. Breathe slow and deep, relaxing and releasing tension during each exhalation, for a count of 10 breaths. Or practice using positive affirmations to remind yourself of your safety and abilities as a driver. Saying phrases out loud such as “I am an alert and safe driver,” or, “I am driving carefully and within the speed limit,” can help to reassure yourself in stressful situations.

Sinclair Broadcast Group is committed to keeping our viewers accident-free, which is why we initiated the Drive Safe campaign. Steer clear of danger with our monthly tips.

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