There are multiple forms of anxiety that cause multiple people to feel nervous in their everyday lives. Driving anxiety is one of those forms, that is a huge problem in society. Not only does it cause people to feel uneasiness but people with driving anxiety are more likely to get involved in hazardous situations on the road, so it also causes public road safety to be impaired. Driving anxiety is especially common in teenagers, as they are new to driving and are more likely to make mistakes in their driving, as they don’t have as many skills built up. It’s important to know the causes of driving anxiety, because that can later translate into finding effective solutions. Current psychological research about the fear of driving can help us understand and try to reduce the number of teenagers struggling with driving anxiety.
Several psychological reports support the idea of driving anxiety having negative effects on driving performance. Joanne E. Taylor, Frank P. Deane and John V. Podd of Massey University and University of Wollongong, conducted a study on 100 people with and without driving anxiety. The participants completed an on-road driving test. They concluded that drivers with anxiety made more errors than those without anxiety (“Taylor, Joanne E., et al.” 1). Similar evidence is found through psychological scientists, Michael W. Eysenck and Manuel G. Calvo’s Processing Efficiency Theory. These scientists concluded that anxiety impairs the “working memory system” to therefore cause limitations in the drivers ability to concentrate on the road (“Taylor, Joanne E., et al.” 5). Both of these reports’ conclusions have been used to demonstrate the negative effects of driving anxiety. In order to ensure public safety on roads it’s important to reduce one’s fear of driving.
Driving anxiety is an issue that is affecting people’s everyday lives. Joanne Taylor and Diana Paki of Massey university, conducted a recent study that asked 100 people about their driving anxiety. They concluded that 7% of these participants have high levels of driving anxiety causing it to affect their everyday life (“Taylor, Joanne, and Diana Paki.” 5). The study also emphasized how driving anxiety mainly affects women. In the study when put in dangerous situations on the road, the men typically got more angry whereas women would usually act more anxious (“Taylor, Joanne, and Diana Paki.” 5). However, Hannah J. Foy, Patrick Runham, and Peter Chapman of School of Psychology and University of Nottingham located in the United Kingdom, performed a study that demonstrated how young males are more likely to be involved in a car accident, because they have “a lack of prefrontal cortex maturation”. (“Foy, Hannah J., et al.”).
Driving anxiety is a significant problem in teenagers learning to drive. Road safety experts and professors in Queensland, Bridie Scott-Parker, Barry Watson, Mark J. King and Melissa K. Hyde, conducted a study on young individuals using an online questionnaire. They conclude that younger drivers with anxiety have a higher risk of getting involved with dangerous situations on the road. They also believed that older individuals can actually benefit from having driving anxiety, because it causes them to drive more cautiously. Whereas teenagers it causes them to panic putting them at a higher risk to crash(“Scott-Parker, Bridie, et al. “ 15). This is because teenagers with anxiety don’t have that experience to rely on, unlike older individuals with anxiety usually have more experience in driving, therefore when put in dangerous situations they can rely on their experience and knowledge and know how to handle the situation correctly.
Psychological studies on fear of driving can help us undestand why teeagers develop this fear. According to Ken Goodman, the author of The Anxiety Solution Series, describes why people develop driving anxiety. He states that most people are afraid of fatalities and driving alone, because they’re scared of getting lost or being stranded (“Goodman, Ken.” 1). Lots of teenagers develop these fears, because since they’re new to driving they typically aren’t as good with navigation. Teenagers also don’t have as much experience, which causes them to be afraid of situations like losing control of the vehicle. “Past Negative Experiences” is another cause of driving anxiety that Goodman mentioned. He described how people with past traumatic car experiences would most likely have higher anxiety levels than those uninvolved (“Goodman, Ken.” 1). For an example, teenagers who either knew someone in a car accident or was in a car accident themselves as a kid would have an increased chance in developing drivers anxiety later on.
There are multiple factors that can contribute to driving anxiety in teenagers, including driving educational courses. Rodger W. Griffeth and Ronald W. Rogers of the University of South Carolina, conducted a study done on the effectiveness of driver education courses and their ability to “scare” new drivers in driving safely. They concluded that the courses have improved in this ability to cause new drivers to want to drive safer (Griffeth, Rodger W., and Ronald W. Rogers.” 3). However, these courses could also make some new drivers develop higher levels of driving anxiety, because they would be afraid of the fatalities that were described and shown in class. Although, beginner drivers are not always just worried about getting in a crash, sometimes there more scared of the people on the road. Goodman explains how some people are afraid of road rage (“Goodman, Ken.” 1). This fear can be seen in teenagers right away when they start to drive, because as a beginner they’ll make mistakes and others on the road will most likely get mad or impatient. This can cause teenagers to have higher levels of driving anxiety, because they don’t want to mess up and make people mad.
Certain coping mechanisms including therapies and relaxation techniques are used when dealing with stress anxiety. Brenda K. Wiederhold, Mark D. Wiederhold, Dong P. Jang, and Sun I. Kim, reported on three cases of cellular telephone therapy. This type of therapy allows for patients to contact their therapist while driving. Then, they’re able get advice on how to deal with their anxiety right away in the moment. The therapy was proven effective for all three cases. (“Wiederhold, Brenda K., et al.” 6). Similar findings from a study conducted by scientists David G. Walshe,Elizabeth J. Lewis, Sun I. Kim, Kathleen O’Sullivan, and Brenda K. Wiederhold, proved how exposure therapy decreased driving anxiety . Exposure reality allowed for the participants to be exposed to their fears and learn how to cope, without actually being faced with any real danger. These therapies can be useful to teenagers learning to drive, because it can allow them to be exposed to what is causing them to be nervous before driving on the real road. Then they can learn how to deal with dangerous situations, instead of panicking and making the wrong decision.
Another way to relieve driving anxiety in teenagers could be teaching them good relaxation techniques. Goodman states how it’s important for people to know their specific fears when it comes to driving, and then learn ways to relax the body when faced with the fear. Relaxation techniques can be anywhere from breathing techniques to relaxing the mind (“Goodman, Ken.” 1). Relaxing is beneficial and can be useful in teenagers learning to drive. Everytime they’re put in a situation where they’re anxiety increases, they can use the techniques to avoid panicking or being put in a dangerous situation on the road.
Even though there are some solutions to help decrease driving anxiety in individuals, there is still a need for more effective solutions to stop driving anxiety from developing in teenagers. Taylor and Paki explain how there is also a major need for treatment on people that have anxiety causing a “psychological and functional impact.” Without good resolutions driving anxiety can negatively impact people’s everyday lives, because they’ll try to come up with their own solutions. Including, avoiding the problem. Taylor and Paki described how people who had a high fear of being involved in a car crash, would try and avoid being stuck in traffic (“Taylor, Joanne, and Diana Paki.” 1). This could cause being late or even missing out on important and fun events.
Driving anxiety is a problem that is common for teenagers in everyday society. This anxiety can cause these teenagers to be put in dangerous situations on the road, which negatively affects public road safety. This anxiety is caused by multiple factors from past experiences to being afraid of road rage. There are some solutions to help decrease the anxiety in individuals, including certain therapies and relaxation techniques. These solutions help with decreasing the anxiety in the individual, but they don’t help with preventing driving anxiety from spreading. However, it’s important for researchers to focus on finding these results to help keep teenagers on the roads safe.