Even if your injuries from a car crash have healed enough that you’ve gotten your doctor’s approval to drive again, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re ready to do so. It’s perfectly normal to experience everything from mild anxiety to a panic attack at the thought of getting behind the wheel – even if the crash wasn’t your fault.
While you shouldn’t let your fear of driving keep you out of the driver’s seat for the rest of your life, go easy on yourself and build your confidence gradually. Let’s look at some steps you can take to do that.
Get in the passenger seat as soon as possible
Being able to ride in a vehicle with a driver who’s safe and confident can help you acclimate to being in a car again. You’ll realize that you have the same skills as they have and that you can do this too.
Have someone by your side at first, and stay in quiet areas
When you first start driving again, bring along a friend or family member who will sit in the passenger seat. It should be someone who won’t distract you and who can take over if you begin to feel overwhelmed.
Of course, your first few outings should be in your neighborhood or somewhere without heavy traffic. Don’t get on a highway or drive after dark if you’re not sure you’re ready.
Take some driving lessons
Even if your driving skills weren’t a factor in the crash, you may want to find a nearby driving school where you can take a few lessons just to refresh them. This can be particularly helpful if it’s been more than a few years (or decades) since you learned to drive. Having an instructor in the passenger seat with access to their own brake can be reassuring as well.
Don’t be afraid to get professional help
If you’re still not able to drive, it may be wise to see a mental health professional. The same is true if your fear of driving is just part of the problem, and you continue to experience overall anxiety or are constantly reliving the crash.
People react differently to being in or even witnessing crashes for a number of reasons. Before you reach a settlement in the case, remember that you have as much right to seek compensation for mental health treatment as you do for medical care.