Coffee Break

Highway Phobia: Driving Away Your Fears


Driving around town in your trusted car is one thing, but heading out onto the highway is another. For most of us, this isn’t a problem. It is often a necessity, though driving at faster speeds can be quite enjoyable. For others, highway driving is a terrifying prospect, and is a genuine phobia: Autokinetodromophobia to give it it’s real name!

So why are people scared of driving on the highway? The following reasons have been cited.

  1. High speeds. Tootling around at 30mph on city streets is one thing, but with the faster speeds on the highway, especially when surrounded by the flood of passing traffic, it can be quite intimidating.
  2. Risks of an accident. Statistically, there is less chance of an accident on a highway. Still, when dealing with bigger vehicles, trucks and the like, there are extra dangers on these bigger roads. Instead of risking the need to call a semi truck accident attorney, the highway phobic is more inclined to take the long way round by avoiding the highway altogether.
  3. Merging onto the highway. When coming off a junction, it is a scary experience when trying to get in line with the fast-moving traffic prevalent on the highway. The risk of an accident and road rage are high, so for the uninitiated, this part of the highway experience is one best avoided.

Overcoming the phobia

The best course of action for many is not to head out onto the highway at all. If another route is available, the phobic may consider this the best course of action. However, as with any phobia, it needs to be overcome, especially if highway driving becomes crucial to the person’s job or life opportunities.

If you are highway phobic, here are some ways to drive away your fear.

  1. Go back to driving school. Taking extra lessons helps, and with the guidance of a qualified professional, driving on the highway will become as second nature as driving around city roads. Beginning with a computer simulator to ease highway fears, lessons will continue on the highway at the driver’s pace.
  2. Do what you are comfortable with. If driving at fast speeds is scary, don’t go in the fast lane. Instead, stick to the slow lane and stay there. You may not get to your destination in optimum time, but you will still get there, eventually.
  3. Speak to a counsellor. Through CBT and exposure therapy, the counsellor will help you confront your fears, and  give you tools to overcome them by retraining your brain. Instead of “I can’t drive on the highway,” the counsellor will let you know you can, and will add logic and reason behind the factors that are holding you back.
  4. Practice relaxation techniques. Getting into the right headspace before you start driving will help, but if you do begin to panic on the highway, practice safe relaxation techniques while driving, or pull over and continue these methods until you are in a better place to continue.
  5. Share driving responsibility. By sharing the car with another driver, you can take turns along the highway. As soon as you start to feel panicky, pull over and swap with the other person. Eventually, you will get the hang of it without that other person being there, but for peace of mind and someone to talk to, having that extra person will help until you feel more comfortable.

Thanks for reading!