If you were involved in a car accident, particularly if you or a loved one suffered injuries, you may be anxious about getting behind the wheel again. Even if the accident wasn’t your fault, you may be fearful of driving.
If you are, you’re not alone. Mental health professionals say that these feelings are normal. One psychologist notes that they usually subside within a month of the accident. However, getting behind the wheel again for the first time after your crash (particularly if you haven’t driven for a weeks or months because of your injuries) can be a daunting thing to do.
You probably don’t want to be taking Ubers and Lyfts for the rest of your life, so let’s look at some tips for easing post-crash anxiety to help you get back in the driver’s seat.
Have a licensed driver in the passenger seat the first time (or maybe the first few times) you drive after the accident. It’s reassuring (and safer) to have someone there who can take over for you if you get overwhelmed or panicky.
Consider taking some driver’s ed training. Driving schools enroll students of all ages. Some hours of behind-the-wheel classes with an experienced instructor can help you regain your confidence. You’ll also pick up some safe driving practices you may have forgotten since your teen driver’s ed days.
At first, stick to driving in places and situations where you feel comfortable. If you’re anxious about driving, limit your driving to your neighborhood and familiar locations like your local grocery store or your gym. As you regain your confidence, you’ll feel more comfortable venturing out onto highways and busy areas.
If you’re having anxiety about driving after your accident, psychologists recommend that you write and talk about it. One psychologist says, “Writing a narrative of the accident helps people face the trauma and deal with their emotions.” Talking to sympathetic family and friends can help, too, as long as you focus on the fact that you made it through and it’s behind you now.
If the accident was the fault of another driver, seeking the compensation you need to deal with the expenses can be empowering and help you feel less like a victim. If you need help recovering the money you need, it may be wise to seek legal guidance.