A maxim for (driving) life?
I had an erm,“friend”, who experienced a driving phobia. Its origin involved a Ford Mondeo, a tight supermarket car park space, a nervous passenger, a kindly passer-by and a small crowd of concerned citizens who sprung up out of nowhere to watch the reversing drama unfold. For some time afterwards it was very difficult to take the wheel without a great deal of anxiety.
For my “friend” (ok, it was me), more than 20 years later, this car park memory now raises a small giggle, however there are a huge number of people for whom the prospect of driving a car can easily initiate a full-on panic attack.
According to Joanne Mallon, a recovered phobic herself, and author of the book How to Overcome Fear of Driving, the number of people afraid about taking to the road is unquantified. “It is absolutely everywhere, but it’s a hidden thing,” she explains. “When I talk about the book, so many people say, 'I thought it was just me’.”
The root cause of the phobias – referred to as ‘vehophobia’- is often difficult to uncover, however the underlying cause in many cases can be linked to past incidents. A particularly difficult driving examiner, a road traffic accident or a mechanical failure have all been known to induce driving fears into drivers new and old.
The severity of the condition differs from person to person and while some people may have an irrational fear of driving on motorways, avoiding specific roundabouts or junctions, others may fear getting into the driving seat altogether.
Official research is scant in this area, however over 1000 searches related to driving fears were undertaken on google UK within the past month – giving us a small insight into the scale of vehophabia.
If you think you, or even one of your own friends, may need some pointers to help ‘steer’ them in the right direction, here are some tips and advice.