Fear of motorway driving – How to beat it

by | | Driving Anxiety


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A fear of motorway driving can significantly impact your life

It stops you from visiting friends and family living in different parts of the UK.  It’s inconvenient.

It’s time consuming. You either need to find alternative travel or use the back roads.  It’s annoying.

It knocks your confidence and you start to believe that things will never get better.  It’s demoralising.

You either need to cancel plans, not accept invitations, or rely on others to drive. It’s frustrating.

It stops you from applying for new working opportunities outside of your local area.  It’s restrictive.

You have to make up excuses as to why you can’t give friends or colleagues lifts. It’s embarrassing.

No one should have to live with driving anxiety. You deserve the freedom and feeling that being a confident driver brings.

Here’s what being a confident motorway driver may look like for you

Not having to spend time planning a journey to avoid motorways.
Being able to join and leave the motorway with ease.
Not having to stick to driving in the inside lane at under 60 mph.
Not worrying about having a panic attack whilst driving.
Being able to overtake larger vehicles and change lanes regularly.
Being able to feel relaxed and in control at all times. 

Fear of motorway driving

What is the fear of motorway driving?

As the name suggests the fear of motorway driving is an anxiety disorder where individuals experience intense fear, anxiety, or panic at the thought of driving on motorways or major roads.

Like many anxiety disorders, the impact the condition can have on the individual can vary considerably. At its most severe it can stop people travelling on motorways altogether, for some, it may mean that they need to stick to the inside or middle lanes as they don’t feel comfortable changing lanes.

If you have a fear of driving on motorways you are certainly not alone. A survey conducted by the AA revealed that as many as 1 in 7 drivers had some anxiety related to motorway driving.

What causes my anxiety driving on motorways?

A man with driving anxiety behind the wheel

There are numerous reasons why you may currently be experiencing anxiety driving on motorways, these are often related to a negative experience you may have had in the past or linked to your perceived lack of driving experience.

A fear of motorway driving is often a result of an existing phobia. For example, if you suffer from a fear of heights (acrophobia), you will likely feel anxious when driving on unfamiliar motorways as you may need to cross a bridge at some point. You may experience a similar feeling if you fear enclosed spaces (claustrophobia) as you may need to travel through a tunnel.

While it’s possible to gain motorway driving experience with an approved DVLA instructor, the lack of regular practice can leave drivers feeling anxious when venturing out alone. This anxiety isn’t limited to new drivers; even experienced drivers who infrequently use motorways can feel overwhelmed. The high speeds and complex navigation required on motorways can make the experience particularly daunting.

Your overall level of stress and anxiety can significantly contribute to your fear of motorway driving. Higher stress levels increase the likelihood of developing new phobias, including motorway anxiety disorder.

Psychological factors can also intensify the fear of driving on a motorway, such as the fear of losing control. This fear can create a sense of helplessness and vulnerability, compounded by fast-moving traffic and limited opportunities to pull over. It can be perceived that a mistake on the motorway could lead to severe consequences which increases the fear of losing control of the vehicle.

The higher speeds on motorways can be intimidating, requiring quicker reactions and heightened awareness, which can overwhelm anxious or inexperienced drivers. Traveling at high speeds is often associated with greater risk, leading to increased anxiety about potential accidents.

What are some of the most common triggers?

The fear of motorway driving can be triggered by several situations that induce stress and anxiety. These are specific to motorway driving as the situations will rarely be encountered when driving on more minor roads.

A woman thinking about questions to ask during her consultation

Common triggers include; joining or merging onto the motorway, driving at high speed, maintaining control at high speed, fear of causing an accident, having to change lanes and make complex manoeuvres at speed, fear of missing exits and  encounters with aggressive drivers

Do I have motorway driving anxiety or a phobia?

A woman thinking

Driving anxiety is an umbrella term that refers to any type of anxiety that is a direct result of driving. This can include a phobia.

A phobia typically arises from a specific triggering event and results in an intense reaction to it.

Driving anxiety itself tends to build up gradually over time and can lead to general feelings of unease. The symptoms tend to be less severe than that of a phobia.

What is a phobia?

A phobia can be thought of as a distinct type of driving anxiety. It tends to happen as the result of a specific incident. A phobia can be described as an extreme, irrational, overwhelming, or debilitating fear of an object, place, situation, or feeling.

Why has my motorway driving phobia developed?

Perhaps you were involved in a high-speed crash or witnessed an accident. It’s also possible that your phobia developed because your parents were anxious drivers. Regularly seeing them feel anxious and overwhelmed behind the wheel can lead your brain to associate motorway driving with anxiety.

A image representng the brain as a filing cabinet

When awake, our brains constantly take in information through our senses. You can think of these waking hours as your brain being in record mode. When we sleep our brains enter playback mode.

When you’re dreaming, your brain transfers memories from the primitive, emotional mind to the intellectual, logical part.

If it encounters an event that it believes to be threatening during this process, the memory will be stored. These stored files will then help your brain to predict how to react in the future. In reality, this means that each time you drive or think about driving, your brain will activate your fight/ flight/ freeze response and you’ll experience anxiety.

Panic attack while motorway driving

A panic attack often occurs due to the cumulative build-up of stress. If you are already an unconfident or anxious driver, you are more likely to experience a panic attack while driving compared to those who are not.

Panic button

A panic attack could have occurred at any point during your day, but because it happened while you were driving on the motorway, your brain links the two events. This association can lead to the development of a phobia.

Panic attacks feel more intense and frightening when driving at high speeds because there appears to be no escape, so you are unable to fulfill your natural reaction to flee. You must also try to maintain control of your vehicle to avoid causing an accident, which can heighten the fear.


What are the symptoms of motorway driving anxiety?

A man with driving anxiety behind the wheel

When you experience driving anxiety your mind and body will react in a number of ways. This will mean that you may experience some of the following symptoms;  overthinking, increased heart rate, sweaty hands, stomach cramps, chest pain, trouble regulating your breathing, feeling on edge, feeling hot or cold, tingly skin, a dry mouth, shortness of breath, or feeling faint.

A fear of motorway driving is holding me back, when is it time to look for help?

Many people manage to live with their fear of motorway driving by inventing and implementing a variety of coping strategies. You might be handling your anxiety by completely avoiding major roads or only travelling on them during less busy times.

For many people, the need to find a more permanent solution only comes when they realise the debilitating effect their driving anxiety is having on their lives. Perhaps it is stopping you from applying for a dream job, or maybe you want to move to a different part of the country but you know you won’t feel confident driving in a new location.

Whatever your reasons help is available.

How to permanently get over your fear of motorway driving

Several therapies may be able to help you overcome your fear of driving on a motorway. Hypnotherapy is a type of therapy that uses the natural state of hypnosis to bring about positive change within your subconscious mind. If you would like to find out more information on how I can help you take control of your driving anxiety using hypnotherapy, please use the following link.

Hypnotherapy for driving anxiety.

A woman using hypnosis for driving anxiety

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is also a type of therapy that can act on your subconscious mind to bring about change. It can be used alongside hypnotherapy and is particularly effective in helping to overcome driving phobias.

Getting from where you are now to being a confident motorway driver really isn’t hard. Here’s how we achieve it;

#01 Consultation

You’ll learn and fully understand why you’ve been suffering from driving anxiety and be given the tools necessary to overcome it.

#02 Change

We meet either online or face-to-face and use a variety of techniques to get you feeling back in control.

image representing a happy confident driver

#03 Success

No more driving anxiety. You’ve completely changed your way of thinking enabling you to be a calm, confident driver.

Hypnotherapy and NLP for driving anxiety can work for you just like it has for others!

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Get to live the life you want

Clam Drive Hypnotherapy Package

Are you thinking “hypnotherapy won’t work for me?” – Most of these clients thought that too, now they’re living life free from their problem!

How will your life be different without your fear of motorway driving holding you back?

A family happy and smiling outside a car
A business man driving his car with no driving anxiety
A group of friends by a campervan
a mother confidently driving her children about

When you’re ready please reach out as I’d love to help you overcome your fear of motorway driving

I’m Ian a qualified hypnotherapist and a member of several awarding bodies which means that your wellness is in a safe pair of hands.

Therapy is equally effective whether it’s online via Zoom or face-to-face. Using an online approach means that I can use hypnotherapy alongside other techniques to enable you to overcome your driving anxiety no matter your location.

However, if you live within travelling distance of Fairfield, Hitchin, Hertfordshire you also have the option to come to my therapy room for face-to-face sessions.


Professional Accreditations.

Anxiety UK Approved Therapist
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I’m just a down-to-earth person who will pull out all the stops to get my client results.

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Based on the results I get for my clients and the standard of my work I have won several nationally recognised awards.

Hypnotherapy Practise of the Year Winner
REST registered tutor
Best Hypnotherapy in Stevenage

A fear of motorway driving doesn’t have to ruin your life. There’s a simple solution available to you now!

If you’d like to discover how I can help you to become a calm, confident driver, then please feel free to call me on 07855 759533.

If you are ready to book an initial consultation please use the button below.


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