Do I Have Driving Anxiety?

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In the U.S., the car is king above all other modes of transportation. We use our cars to get to work, social events, school, and hobbies, and to run everyday errands. But what if you experience driving anxiety and it makes getting behind the wheel difficult and stressful? Anxiety disorders and other mental health disorders can cause a host of symptoms that complicate our lives. When someone feels anxious just getting into their car, it can cause many problems. For some, it keeps them from driving at all. Renewal Oasis created a program to treat anxiety that drastically improves a person’s symptoms. We help people overcome a fear of driving and other symptoms so they can rejoin life.

What is Driving Anxiety? 

When someone experiences anxiety related to driving, they may not know this condition has a name. Amaxophobia, also known as motorphobia, is a phobia that causes a person to be uneasy and anxious when driving or even as a passenger in a vehicle. In fact, it can even include being afraid of riding on other forms of transportation, such as trains, buses, and airplanes. Driving or riding causes a person to experience symptoms of anxiety and may become so severe that they avoid transportation whenever possible. Even the idea of being in a car can cause anxiety. 

The fear may be general or it may center around a fear of having an accident or having a panic attack while driving with no way to stop it. When someone’s fear of driving becomes a regular issue, it can make life difficult in many areas. The person may have trouble getting to work, grocery stores, social events, doctor appointments, school, and more. Because this phobia isn’t as commonly known as others, people who have it are often afraid to tell others or ask for help. 

Driving Anxiety Symptoms 

Symptoms of driving anxiety are similar to those that happen with any anxiety disorder. They commonly include:

  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Numbness in hands and feet
  • Tightness in chest
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Dizziness
  • Fear of losing consciousness
  • Disorientation
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • A fear of dying


While it may seem like driving anxiety is just about feeling afraid, it actually can be dangerous to the driver, their passengers, and other people on the road. People with a fear of driving are more likely to get into accidents. This can be because they react more slowly or have difficulty concentrating on their driving and what’s going on around them. If it’s the passenger who is feeling anxiety, this can distract the driver and cause an elevated risk of an accident.

What are the Causes of Driving Anxiety? 

Driving anxiety can develop out of nowhere or it may start as an occasional problem that then becomes a regular occurrence. As with most mental illnesses, it can run in a family. When a relative has an anxiety-related condition, it can be genetic. This means other family members have an increased chance of also developing the same illness. Driving anxiety can also happen after a person has a negative or scary experience while in a car. People who are involved in an accident, witness one, or have a loved one who was in an accident can develop their own fear of driving or riding in a car. Lastly, a fear of driving can be one of many symptoms experienced by someone who has an anxiety disorder. 

Do I Have Driving Anxiety Quiz 

It can be difficult to determine if you have driving anxiety, so we created this quiz to help you answer the question. Answer “true” or “false” to each question.

  1. I feel anxious or scared when I drive.
  2. I have had a panic attack when I drive.
  3. I avoid going places if I have to drive.
  4. Thinking about driving or riding in a car can make me feel anxious.
  5. I often feel anxious when riding in someone else’s car.
  6. I look for alternative ways to go somewhere so I can avoid being in a car.
  7. My career, social life, education, and other areas of my life suffer because of my anxiety about driving.
  8. I feel anxious when on a train, bus, or plane.
  9. People sometimes notice my anxiety when I’m in a car.
  10. My anxiety surfaces in physical symptoms in the car.

Assessing the Quiz 

If you answered “true” to two or more questions, you may have a driving phobia. To be sure, discuss your quiz results with a mental health professional who can provide a full assessment and recommend treatment.

How to Overcome Driving Anxiety 

Treating driving anxiety includes using many basic approaches to treating other symptoms of anxiety disorders. Talk therapy and experiential therapies help teach people to understand any contributing reasons for having anxiety. From there, they can learn healthy coping skills to stop anxiety from happening or reduce it when it surfaces. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy proves especially helpful in treating anxiety for many people. Exposure Therapy can also work because it allows the person to gradually become comfortable with being in a car again. Additionally, many prescription medications address the symptoms of anxiety disorders and can help make it easier for someone to become comfortable behind the wheel again.

Contact Our Anxiety Treatment Center in Palm Desert, CA

Do you experience driving anxiety and find it negatively impacts your ability to live your life? Renewal Oasis provides a well-rounded program to treat a variety of anxiety disorders that includes ones that cause a person anxiety while driving. We help you learn relaxation techniques and healthy coping skills that put you comfortably back in the driver’s seat. Our combination of different types of therapy and access to any necessary prescription medications helps you reduce your anxiety and regain control.

Contact us now to find out how our program works. We teach people how to let go of anxiety and get back on track.