If a car crash has left you afraid to get behind the wheel again, or maybe even leaves you shaking and sick if you have to ride in a car, you’re not alone. There is a recognized condition called amaxophobia (or sometimes hamaxopobia), which means fear of driving.
Amaxophobia can result in different fears, and levels of fear. For example, a person may be afraid to drive but able to be a passenger. They may only be able to be in a car if they’re the person driving. They may need to have a trusted friend or relative driving but be unable to get in an Uber, taxi or bus. Obviously, amaxophobia can limit a person’s ability to work, go to school or basically live their life.
Like other phobias, it’s an anxiety disorder that creates an extreme fear of doing something that’s typically not harmful. It’s not being in the vehicle that typically frightens them. It’s generally a fear of dying.
Who’s most likely to suffer from post-crash amaxophobia, and what does it look like?
Being in a serious car crash – even one where no one was seriously injured – can cause amaxophobia. However, those most likely to develop it often have pre-existing anxiety disorders or other phobias or have a close blood relative with one of these conditions.
People might tell you the only way to overcome a fear is to face it. In this case, that means getting behind the wheel again. That’s fine if you’re experiencing mild anxiety that’s to be expected after a crash. However, those with amaxophobia can experience symptoms like the following when they get in a vehicle:
- Heart palpitations
- Shortness of breath
Certainly, you don’t want to try to drive if you’re suffering any of these symptoms. It’s probably not a good idea to be a passenger either.
If your anxiety about driving or being in a vehicle after a crash doesn’t subside and appears to be some level of amaxophobia, it’s crucial to have it diagnosed by a mental health professional. There are treatments available. The sooner you start treatment, the better.
If your crash was caused by someone else, you have the right to seek compensation for this treatment just as you would medical treatment for a physical injury. Having legal guidance can help you ensure that you get the necessary compensation.