Terrible driving anxiety

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Fellowmater
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Terrible driving anxiety

Post by Fellowmater »

My son has been terrified since 15 of driving and did not obtain his license until just about a year ago, because he was too afraid to drive at all. (He's 18 now.) He's gotten much more comfortable driving, but he still cannot drive on the highway. His main issue with it is merging on. He even starts panicking just by thinking about it and puts him on the verge of tears. It's not debilitating right now, as his school is close and he said he's fine driving on main roads, two-lane roads, side streets, etc.

He recently shared that his driving instructor forced him to go on the highway once when he was beginning. The experience ended with him crying and panicking in the car and nearly vomiting. I don't know if his fear is worsened by this experience. Is there anyone here who has a family member experiencing this? Any advice is welcome. Thanks.
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Terrapin Station
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Re: Terrible driving anxiety

Post by Terrapin Station »

My mom started having anxiety attacks while driving . . . but not until she was in her 70s. She simply stopped driving at that point. She's in her 80s now.

If one wants to get past this, a psychiatrist or at least a psychologist would probably be the most help.
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Sy Borg
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Re: Terrible driving anxiety

Post by Sy Borg »

I mostly stopped driving. One way my ASD manifests is that my navigational abilities are profoundly poor. Today, with the proliferation of SUVs, ie. small trucks, visibility has reduced to the point where, coupled with my poor sense of direction, it is simply dangerous for me to drive in places I don't know. With the greater mass of vehicles, I have a strong sense of the greater forces around me, and what might happen if things go wrong.

I understand your son's concerns well. Still, I'm much older and can always pay for a ride, if need be. I had fear of driving when I was young too. It took many lessons and five attempts to get my driving licence and even then the tester said, "It must be Christmas, but I'll give it to you".

Since I absolutely needed to drive (and had no idea that I was on the autism spectrum), I forced myself out of my comfort zone by taking a job where I had to drive to different offices every day. I basically BSed my way though, pretending to be a confident driver, not wanting to look helpless or like a victim. In time I learned enough directions and experience to be almost competent behind the wheel.

Like many issues with confidence, it's a matter of "fake it until you make it".
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LuckyR
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Re: Terrible driving anxiety

Post by LuckyR »

Fellowmater wrote: January 28th, 2021, 7:14 am My son has been terrified since 15 of driving and did not obtain his license until just about a year ago, because he was too afraid to drive at all. (He's 18 now.) He's gotten much more comfortable driving, but he still cannot drive on the highway. His main issue with it is merging on. He even starts panicking just by thinking about it and puts him on the verge of tears. It's not debilitating right now, as his school is close and he said he's fine driving on main roads, two-lane roads, side streets, etc.

He recently shared that his driving instructor forced him to go on the highway once when he was beginning. The experience ended with him crying and panicking in the car and nearly vomiting. I don't know if his fear is worsened by this experience. Is there anyone here who has a family member experiencing this? Any advice is welcome. Thanks.
The immersion technique to deal with phobias is a legitimate strategy, though typically with a professional (and I don't mean a driving professional).
"As usual... it depends."
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Steve3007
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Re: Terrible driving anxiety

Post by Steve3007 »

Fellowmater wrote:Is there anyone here who has a family member experiencing this? Any advice is welcome. Thanks.
As with Terrapin Station, the example that springs to mind in my family is my mum. She passed her driving test in the 80's but very rarely drove after that and hasn't driven at all for decades. She's said in the past that she has a constant fear that other drivers are going to crash into her, but it's also because my dad has previously been a terrible passenger seat driver because of his own phobia of not being in control (hence he never flies or goes on trains or buses). If brake lights came on, like, half a mile ahead he'd be saying "Slow down. Slow down! SLOW DOWN!!!" with increasing urgency and reaching for the handbrake. He did it with me too when I was younger. So one time I decided to demonstrate what taking his advice might be like and slammed the brakes on in the middle of a duel carriageway to make a point (after checking the rear-view mirror). He got a bit better after that.

So what your son might need is some practice, initially on very quiet roads, with a very quiet, patient, non aggressive passenger for support. Find a road where you can practice merging on with no other cars around, initially. Work up to busier roads. That would have been impossible where I live, except perhaps at 3 in the morning, until Covid-19 cleared the roads a bit. If it's the same where you live, maybe that could be a rare example of a Covid benefit.
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Steve3007
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Re: Terrible driving anxiety

Post by Steve3007 »

Greta wrote:With the greater mass of vehicles, I have a strong sense of the greater forces around me, and what might happen if things go wrong.
One of my nephews is on the autistic spectrum and I've gathered that one quite common characteristic is difficulty with people who act unpredictably. Hence he's not very keen on being around small children. Do you think the fear of those vehicles around you, when driving, is partly related to a fear of the potential unpredictability of the drivers?
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Sy Borg
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Re: Terrible driving anxiety

Post by Sy Borg »

Steve3007 wrote: January 29th, 2021, 6:31 am
Greta wrote:With the greater mass of vehicles, I have a strong sense of the greater forces around me, and what might happen if things go wrong.
One of my nephews is on the autistic spectrum and I've gathered that one quite common characteristic is difficulty with people who act unpredictably. Hence he's not very keen on being around small children. Do you think the fear of those vehicles around you, when driving, is partly related to a fear of the potential unpredictability of the drivers?
Not really. Only the unpredictability of geography. It's especially hard to deal with navigation problems when most of the vehicles around you are almost two metres tall - like being a small child lost in a sea of adult legs in a crowd.
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Pattern-chaser
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Re: Terrible driving anxiety

Post by Pattern-chaser »

Greta wrote: January 28th, 2021, 7:55 pm One way my ASD manifests is that my navigational abilities are profoundly poor.

I'm the same, but I had no idea it was an ASD-thing. Happily, I can navigate by following road signs, or by using a map. It doesn't make me a good navigator, but I can just about manage. When I can't, that charming Irish woman trapped inside my satnav is there to help. Otherwise I suspect I might remove myself from the road, for the wellbeing of all, me included.
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Sy Borg
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Re: Terrible driving anxiety

Post by Sy Borg »

Pattern-chaser wrote: January 29th, 2021, 10:27 am
Greta wrote: January 28th, 2021, 7:55 pm One way my ASD manifests is that my navigational abilities are profoundly poor.
I'm the same, but I had no idea it was an ASD-thing. Happily, I can navigate by following road signs, or by using a map. It doesn't make me a good navigator, but I can just about manage. When I can't, that charming Irish woman trapped inside my satnav is there to help. Otherwise I suspect I might remove myself from the road, for the wellbeing of all, me included.
I kept getting in situations where I could not readily use road maps or signs. I simply cannot see signs when surrounded by giant SUVs. Whatsmore, SUVs tale up most of their lane space. With less than a metre either side in laned traffic, when peering over those high SUV roofs for street signs it's very easy to side swipe.
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Sculptor1
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Re: Terrible driving anxiety

Post by Sculptor1 »

Why most of the EU, and the UK and US have completely **** up the pandemic response.

https://unherd.com/2021/02/the-ideology ... r7d7fQ95mU
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Theoryst
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Re: Terrible driving anxiety

Post by Theoryst »

I do feel your son's pain on this one...My first atomic anxiety attack was at an intersection in 2003 when I was 23. It was awful. I even remember now what lane I was in and what the weather was like. I had driving anxiety for a long time only because I was a jerk and never really committed to regular counseling visits.

Whether it's in traffic or in the supermarket your brain is letting you know that you are over-sensitized right now....whether it work commitments or personal issues (or the way we have been brought up) the anxiety attacks are trying to let us know that we have way too much on our plate at the moment.
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Tiberiusmoon
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Re: Terrible driving anxiety

Post by Tiberiusmoon »

A lot of the UK's traffic systems has assumptional flaws rather than logical understanding. (roundabouts, zedbra crossings etc.)
Combine that with enviromental imact, consumerism of road tax, insurance and so on.

Its not worth the danger, damage to life and costs to warrant driving.
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Sculptor1
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Re: Terrible driving anxiety

Post by Sculptor1 »

Fellowmater wrote: January 28th, 2021, 7:14 am My son has been terrified since 15 of driving and did not obtain his license until just about a year ago, because he was too afraid to drive at all. (He's 18 now.) He's gotten much more comfortable driving, but he still cannot drive on the highway. His main issue with it is merging on. He even starts panicking just by thinking about it and puts him on the verge of tears. It's not debilitating right now, as his school is close and he said he's fine driving on main roads, two-lane roads, side streets, etc.

He recently shared that his driving instructor forced him to go on the highway once when he was beginning. The experience ended with him crying and panicking in the car and nearly vomiting. I don't know if his fear is worsened by this experience. Is there anyone here who has a family member experiencing this? Any advice is welcome. Thanks.
He should give up driving until he grows some.
He is a serious danger to other road users.
It is better for the planet to use public transport, and probably cheaper in the long run.
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Sculptor1
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Re: Terrible driving anxiety

Post by Sculptor1 »

My strategy for merging into movong traffic is to drive as fast as possible but be prepared for a last second emergecy stop. Dithering means making an **** of yourself to any one behind, and endangering other raod users.
On good quality roads common in most of Europe the slip roads are long enough to easily match the speed of the emergent traffic. Most of the time there is room for you, since you are at the same speed as the traffic. Where that is not the case 95% of people will either slow down, speed up, or move aside to allow you ingress.

In 43 years of driving I have only had to stop once.
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Steve3007
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Re: Terrible driving anxiety

Post by Steve3007 »

Tiberiusmoon wrote:A lot of the UK's traffic systems has assumptional flaws rather than logical understanding. (roundabouts, zedbra crossings etc.)
I think roundabouts are a very efficient way of keeping traffic flowing. Far better than traffic lights where for a lot of the time no traffic is moving at all.
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