If you were involved in a car crash, you may have some anxiety about getting behind the wheel again. There’s nothing unusual about that. It’s not uncommon for an auto accident to have a psychological effect on those involved, even if they weren’t seriously physically injured.
This anxiety can range from a few butterflies when you get in the driver’s seat to complete dread of getting into a car at all. Typically, the anxiety will start to diminish within a month or so, but each person is different. Psychologists who have worked with crash survivors recommend some steps to help process your feelings about the crash and overcome your fears.
Write and talk about the crash
Writing out the narrative of what happened is a good way to process it. You may need to do this for law enforcement, insurance companies or a potential lawsuit. Even if you don’t, do it for yourself.
While just reliving the crash over and over in your own head can be destructive, talking to family and friends about it can be helpful. Just make sure you focus on the fact that you survived and not dwell on “what ifs.”
Begin driving short distances with someone by your side
Until you know you’re going to be okay behind the wheel, bring another licensed driver who can sit in the front passenger seat and take over if necessary. At first, stick to neighborhood streets or wherever you feel safest. Then, expand your route.
Don’t go out of your way to avoid the scene of the crash
If the crash occurred on your way to work or outside your favorite grocery store, don’t change your routine (once you get back to it) to avoid that area. You’re giving that area power over you and “feeding the anxiety,” as one psychologist puts it.
A crash can leave people with a sense of powerlessness – especially if they were the victim of a negligent, reckless or impaired driver. One way to reclaim that power is to seek compensation for medical treatment and other expenses. For many crash survivors, treatment includes seeing a psychologist or other mental health professional for a time. An experienced attorney can help you get the compensation you need and deserve.