How to Get Past the Fear of Driving After an Accident

by Tammy Lou Waite

Before the accident, life is happy. You fear nothing, and drive along without a care in the world. After the accident, your car is your enemy. You flinch at every sound or image that reminds you of the crash. How can you let go of those fears and get behind the wheel again? Read on.

Start Small

Be a passenger first. If you have recently been involved in a serious crash, being inside a car at all is daunting. You flinch, you have flashbacks. You should not be behind the wheel. First, learn to be comfortable as a passenger again. Ride with someone you know to be a cautious driver, rather than an aggressive driver. Being frightened in a car will only reinforce your fears, so take it slow and easy.

If needed, seek counseling. If you were behind the wheel in an accident where someone was seriously injured or killed, it's something you will always have to live with; but it doesn't have to rule your life. Find a counselor or pastor you trust to help you work through your pain, fear, and regret. An accident is called an accident because it wasn't on purpose. It's normal to feel regret. It's normal to ask yourself if you could have done something differently and altered the outcome. But the truth is, even when you answer those questions, they can't change the past. They can, however, impact the way you drive in the future.

My sweet Grandpa, me and Mama

Ask for rides. If you're not ready to get behind the wheel just yet, don't be afraid to ask family and friends to give you rides. They know what you have been through, and they are rooting for you. I was involved in a car crash in which one of my friends was killed, and my dear Grandpa drove me to work every day until I was brave enough to get behind the wheel again. People who love you will be patient and help you as much as they can. Others may be judgmental and tell you to "snap out of it" and "get back on the horse" but only you can determine when you are mentally and emotionally prepared to safely drive again.

Start out close to home. When you finally feel steady enough to try and drive again, start with short trips. Run errands close to home and travel familiar roads. If you feel yourself getting jittery and anxious, pull over if needed and take a deep breath until you are calm. You won't make good driving decisions if you are focused on memories of your accident instead of the road ahead of you.

The Open Road

Drive. After you've made short trips without incident, you will wake up one day and actually feel ready for a real road trip. Take it. Don't talk yourself out of it! Celebrate your healing and go wherever your heart desires. Life presents us all with unexpected challenges, and sorrows, but we do not have to get stranded there. Gas up, drive and fall in love with the road again. It's possible.

Tips

  • check If you believe in a Higher Power, pray for healing.
  • check Always wear a seatbelt, refuse to ride in cars that don't have one.
  • check Accept the help your loved ones offer.
  • check Your car insurance is going to go up, so prepare yourself for your next bill.
  • check Once you start driving again, share your experience with others struggling with the same fears.

Warnings

  • close Don't allow others to push you into driving until you feel you can drive safely again.
  • close Don't wallow in guilt, it's unproductive.
  • close Don't let one bad accident haunt the rest of your life. Seek counseling if needed.

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About the Author

Tammy Waite is a freelance writer and columnist for SoapCentral.com. Waite is a published poet whose work has appeared in "Tranquil Rains of Summer" and in "The Pentecostal Evangel” magazine. Waite's work can also be found on various Web sites including eHow.com. She attended the Akron University as an English Major and has degree in Travel.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera Jason South,Tammy Waite,TratCliff