Fear Of Driving (Amaxophobia): Causes, Elements, Treatment, Tips

The fear of driving is incredibly common and can be mild or severe; specialists assure that this situation can vary in people. In a recently published study he says that people generally fear driving in specific situations such as rain, highway, among others.

A driving phobia, also called vetophobia, can be severe enough to be considered an intense and persistent fear or phobia. Driving panic can escalate to a phobia during difficult driving situations, such as highway driving or congested traffic.

Just fear

It is important for people to internalize that fear of driving is not necessarily related to other fears , however in some cases therapists have determined that the patient relates their fear of being behind the wheel derived from other fears that include:

Negative experience

  • If you have had a negative experience while driving, this can increase your driving panic.
  • Other possible triggers include driving through a major storm, getting lost, being stopped, or driving in unusually heavy traffic.
  • Fear can develop, being behind the wheel as well as co-pilot or passenger.
  • Visual impacts also contribute to the fear of driving, witnessing an accident, watching the news with related information can also affect.


  • The way people close to you like family and friends drive can also influence your driving.
  • On the contrary, if the people you have observed driving are cautious, it will be easier to internalize your worries behind the wheel.
  • Some people develop fear after watching driver education movies.

Sudden fear

  • It also often happens that after several years, people experience fear behind the wheel suddenly and involuntarily, either due to age or because they are under medical treatment that alters them.
  • Other people prefer to ignore the fact of driving, nor do they worry about learning to avoid unnecessary fear.
  • With or without reasons, this pathology can be treated by specialists.


There are three main categories of driving phobia, distinguished by their appearance.

Traffic accidents

  • The first and most common cause of fear of driving is traffic accidents.
  • These situations cause driving phobia with PTSD, where fear develops in response to a traumatic event.
  • Generally, situations like these trigger the fear of driving only in specific situations related to the root cause, although they can also trigger the fear of driving entirely.

Simple fear

  • The second most common form is the phobia of driving as a specific phobia.
  • Because driving involves some danger and the possibility of a collision, there is some fear or caution in many rational people.
  • However, for some the fear of crashing, losing control of the car, being criticized or being in a dangerous situation will cause panic.
  • It is classified as a fear when the anxiety does not rationally reflect the amount of danger.


  • The anxiety of having a panic attack while in crowds or in public places.
  • One manifestation of agoraphobia is the inability to travel long distances outside the home.
  • When driving, an agoraphobia may feel like they are putting themselves in a fearful situation, and they may develop a driving phobia.

Other elements involved


  • Sometimes it is related to claustrophobia.
  • The fear of enclosed spaces , claustrophobia is easily triggered by the relatively small confines of a car.
  • People claim that they are afraid of passengers or drivers, so fear must be addressed effectively to eradicate fear.

Anguish at the wheel

  • It is reflected when the person does not assume the responsibility that they have when driving.
  • When you are driving it is important to protect the lives of passengers, drivers and other people who are on the road.
  • People who suffer from performance and behavior related fears are prone to feeling unsafe while driving.
  • People who suffer from stage fright, fear is likely to increase.

Restlessness when traveling

  • People who suffer from hodophobia often express their fear in all forms of transportation.
  • These people feel comfortable driving to familiar places, fear kicks in when they must explore new transportation routes.

Fear of traffic cops

  • Having a certain fear of traffic policemen is normal, but there are people who reflect their nerves to such an extent that when they see a ground authority they become blocked and cannot continue driving.
  • Usually people with this phobia do not drive where there are patrols or ambulances.
  • You may also be reluctant to negotiate with unfamiliar traffic lights, roundabouts, and other traffic situations for fear of doing something wrong.


  • The most common treatment for severe cases is behavioral therapy specifically, systematic desensitization.
  • There are several other self-help treatments, mainly including exposure therapy and relaxation techniques while driving.
  • Additional driving training and practice with a certified teacher also helps many people become more self-confident and less prone to anxiety.
  • One of the emerging methods to treat this fear is through the use of virtual therapy.
  • With repeated exposure, all subjects showed significantly less variation than normal in accelerating heart rate readings depression, anxiety and subjective ratings disorder stress post – traumatic.


  • It is recommended to seek professional help, whatever your fear of driving.
  • Treatment options for a simple driving phobia range from individual therapy sessions to seminars, group exposure sessions, and psychoeducational classes.
  • Exposure therapy can be a particularly good way to overcome this phobia.
  • Some people find that working with a private driving instructor is a useful adjunct to mental health treatment solutions.

The fear of driving can have a major impact on virtually every area of ​​your life. However, with professional assistance and hard work, there is no reason to become a prisoner of your fear.

Georgia Tarrant
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Hello, how are you? My name is Georgia Tarrant, and I am a clinical psychologist. In everyday life, professional obligations seem to predominate over our personal life. It's as if work takes up more and more of the time we'd love to devote to our love life, our family, or even a moment of leisure.