Getting into a car accident can be a traumatic experience. Whether you were the driver or just a passenger, it can affect you psychologically.
For example, it may cause you to suffer from anxiety any time you get into a car. Or you may be too afraid to drive or ride in a car at all.
But experiencing a car crash is bad enough. You don’t want to make it worse by letting it affect the rest of your life. So here are some tips on how to gain back your confidence while driving:
1. Write down how the accident happened
One of the best ways to overcome any traumatic experience is to write it down. This lets you put it into a narrative form so you can better process what happened. It helps you make sense of the event and learn to cope with it.
In addition, it may help you remember who was at fault for the accident. If you need legal advice, consult an experienced auto accident attorney. They can let you know what your rights are and help you navigate the complex personal injury legal system.
2. Talk about the accident with others
Another way to cope with a traumatic car accident is to talk about it with others. Choose a close friend or family member with whom you can share what you experienced.
This way, you don’t bottle it all up inside and suppress it. By opening up, you can better process and overcome what happened.
Just make sure it’s a productive conversation that focuses on how you survived the accident and are now moving forward.
3. Ride along as a passenger
Before you get behind the wheel again, take a ride as a passenger. This will help you get used to being in a car again without actually driving. Start by having a trusted family member or friend take you on a short drive.
4. Bring another driver with you on your first drive
When you do decide to drive again, take another driver with you as moral support. They can help reassure you and make you feel safe as you get comfortable being behind the wheel. Plus, they can take over if your fear gets the best of you.
Try to drive again as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the harder it will be.
5. Start with easy drives
It’s also important to start with easy drives. Go for short drives around a quiet neighborhood. You could even start out in a parking lot. Starting out small will help you ease your way back into driving.
6. Visit the crash site
At some point (ideally sooner than later), you should visit the crash site. Facing the accident scene will help you process and get over the trauma. It’s a part of standard cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). If you don’t, you may continue to fear the accident scene and never be able to drive around it again.
7. Take a defensive driving course
A defensive driving course can help you overcome your driving anxiety in a safe environment. It will give you opportunities to drive with an instructor, brush up on the rules of the road, and learn how to avoid future accidents (which can be especially helpful if the accident was your fault).
8. Invest in a safer vehicle
Though the car accident may not have been caused by the vehicle you drove, investing in a safer vehicle can boost your confidence while driving. Research different car models and their safety ratings to find a good match.
Even if you can’t afford a new vehicle, you can upgrade your current one with better safety features like blind spot alert systems, adaptive headlights, and automatic emergency braking.
9. Get professional help
If you have a serious case of anxiety, PTSD, or “vehophobia” (fear of driving), you may benefit from professional help.
For example, there is no shame in seeing a therapist who can help you work through your trauma. Most even offer free consultations.
You could also try attending a support group. Many are less expensive than personal therapy or even free.
Or you may want to see a medical professional who can prescribe you anti-anxiety medications or antidepressants. Do whatever best suits your situation.
10. Be patient
Lastly, it may take some time for you to mentally and emotionally recover from a traumatic car accident. So be patient with yourself.
If you do all that, you’re well on your way to driving like normal again!