Dealing with Driving Anxiety

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Dealing with Driving Anxiety

Cars are a big part of my family. We own 7 cars, 4 of which are ‘classic’ cars that my dad collects. I grew up going to car shows every weekend: the smell of BBQ mixed with car exhaust and the sound of classic rock is my definition of Summer. When I was 16 years old I got my drivers permit. I was excited, I was hopeful, and I was ready to get on the road, prepared to take my driving lessons and take my drivers license test in 6th months as soon as I was allowed to.

Over a year later, and I still had not taken my drivers license test.

Through one experience of driving on the freeway with my father yelling at me the whole time, I discovered that I had developed freeway driving anxiety.

It didn’t matter who I was with, I would start shaking and tearing up the second I tried to merge onto the freeway. I couldn’t do it.

Eventually I got up the nerve to take my drivers license test, which did not require me driving on the freeway, and passed on the first try. For nearly an entire year after I got my license I did not drive on the freeway. I took back roads everywhere I went, which is difficult living so close to Los Angeles.

Dealing with Driving Anxiety

With cars being such an important part of my family, the fact that I had anxiety driving one made me feel like a failure.

There were many times where I would tell myself I was going to do it, I was going to drive on the freeway by myself and learn to cope. Every time I would end up pulled to the side of the road right before the freeway on ramp, crying and having a panic attack in my car.

It is now nearly 3 years since my first freeway driving anxiety attack, and I drive to work on the freeway every single day. I drive down to Los Angeles about every other weekend. I overcame it. And here’s what helped me:


I think my biggest struggle through trying to cope with my driving anxiety was the fact that I was not patient with myself. I was frustrated by the fact that I couldn’t do something that billions of people can do easily every day, and I let it get to me. It took a long time, as well as following all of the other tips mentioned below, but with a lot of patience I was able to overcome my freeway driving anxiety.

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