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Spiders, snakes and trains all share one property in common: they can scare the pants off of people who fear them. More people are afraid of snakes than they are trains, but even more people are more afraid of spiders than they are the previous two.

This is a universal irony, as trains have a much higher mortality rate than most commonly encountered snakes and spiders. There’s many reasons as to why fears exist in this sort of state, but one of the more commonly accepted theories states that most people simply haven’t had the time to evolve a fear of trains in the same way they fear spiders.

Fear-of-driving_2442799c Photo Credit: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/motoring/road-safety/9750647/Fear-of-driving-and-how-to-overcome-it.html

Driving anxiety is just another one of those irrational fears that take the proper conditioning to make less frightening.
Learning how to deal with cars, the act of driving and even other motorists can help you deal with driving anxiety.

1. Understand the Cause

Most fears tend to share one distinct quality: they have a cause that you can locate and put your finger on.
That cause could be anything, including:

  • … being the victim or perpetrator of an incident of road rage.

  • … hearing horror stories about vehicle accidents.

  • … being stressed out by the confined feeling of heavy traffic gridlocks.

  • … having a driving instructor, other drives or even family members that constantly criticized and berated you while learning to drive.

  • … being involved in, witnessing or even causing a car accident.

The first step to overcoming your driving anxiety is to learn about your foe. When you do, you can see that driving becomes more of a hill than it is a mountain.

2. Recognize the Symptoms of Driving Anxiety

The next step to conquering your driving anxiety is to learn the symptoms of it.
Pay attention to yourself when you drive, sit in the driver’s seat of a car or even think about driving. Do you experience any of the following symptoms?

  • Panic attacks?

  • Dizziness?

  • Tingling in your face, hands, feet or even just your lips?

  • Nausea?

  • A dry throat?

  • Blackouts?

  • Headaches?

  • Sweating?

  • Heart palpitations?

  • Do you feel as if you car is unbalanced? Do you think it will go off the road, down an embankment or fall off a cliff?”

  • Do you have thoughts that you normally wouldn’t have if you weren’t driving?

3. Confront Your Fears and Anxiety

This seems like the hardest step, but confronting your fears will help you greatly reduce the severity of your symptoms while driving and make it easier to drive safely.
If your driving anxiety doesn’t overwhelm you and send you into panic attacks when you get behind the wheel, then you should always try to drive. Don’t pass up any opportunities to do so.

4. Take a Drive on Safe or Slow Roadways

Dealing with your driving anxiety means getting behind the wheel and teaching yourself that driving is okay. The best way to do this is to practice driving in safe areas where the speed limit is low, such as in residential areas, or where there is little to no traffic. Even an empty parking lot will suffice.
When you begin to feel bored with the area you’re driving, then move up to a slightly more risky area. You’ll gradually begin to notice that driving isn’t so bad and that your anxiety symptoms will decrease.

5. Don’t Make Yourself Anxious

Phobias, fears and doubt are all things that exist only in your head. That’s why it’s important to keep yourself alert about any driving dangers without overwhelming yourself.
For example, you can compare something fantastical like driving off a cliff with the odds of winning the lottery. The only difference is that you can control most of the variables that would cause that, which makes that kind of thinking a non-issue while driving.
Reason through your own driving fears in similar ways to prevent them from adding unnecessary anxiety.

6. Be Aware

The most important part of being a safe driver involves being aware of your surroundings. Know how to recognize how other people drive, how to distance yourself from aggressive drivers and how to spot potential problems on the road.
In addition to that, make sure that you’re aware of how you feel like driving. Try to be relaxed instead of tense. If you feel yourself shaking, get control of yourself and stop.

Dealing With Driving Anxiety

There are a number of viable solutions that work with dealing with driving anxiety besides the listed tips above. Most tips that help address other phobias and fears will generally help to make driving easier and safer for you.
To make your next automobile trip one with less stress, you should start trying to apply these methods today. No fear goes away overnight, but you can conquer your driving anxiety with time and effort.

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