Few things in life are more terrifying than a serious car accident. If you have lived through one, you may have experienced injuries, emotional trauma and possibly even grief at the loss of a loved one. All of these things can make it incredibly difficult to get behind the wheel again. However, in the society we live in, driving is hard to avoid.
1. Be a Passenger First
If you were the driver at the time of the accident and feel nervous about getting back behind the wheel, consider asking a trusted friend or family member to drive you around a few times. This can get you reacquainted with the feeling of being on the road without having the responsibility of driving on your shoulders. Once you feel comfortable as a passenger, ask the friend to switch places with you and offer support as you drive.
2. Practice Positive Visualization and Deep Breathing
No one ever has a 100 percent guarantee of safety on the road, but you can do a lot to help yourself by practicing positive visualization and other relaxing techniques. Before you leave on your drive, spend a few minutes breathing deeply and imagining yourself arriving home safely later in the day. Tell yourself that the vision you are seeing will come true, and convince yourself to believe it.
3. Start with Short and Easy Trips
Once you are ready to begin driving by yourself for the first time since the accident, be sure to pace yourself. Start with a short trip to the grocery store or post office, and work your way back up to driving to see friends or family members a few hours away. After a short while, driving will become second nature again.
4. Reeducate Yourself on Safe Driving
Another way to get comfortable behind the wheel again is to take some time and reacquaint yourself with driving as if you were a complete and total beginner. Study up on driving laws, go extra slow and remind yourself of all the important things you must do, such as avoiding distractions in the car, keeping your cell phone out of your hands and watching out for other drivers who may be distracted themselves. Being extra careful may take your mind off your anxiety and give you something positive to focus on.
5. Seek Counseling if Necessary
Have you already tried all of these techniques and are still having trouble getting behind the wheel? Are you suffering from other symptoms such as nightmares, anxiety attacks or depression? Car accidents can cause post traumatic stress disorder. The website of a trusted Maryland car accident attorney explains that “PTSD can be life altering and may require months or even years of psychotherapy and other treatments to overcome.” Please do not hesitate to seek counseling, as there are educated professionals who are specifically trained in helping people recover from traumatic events. There is no shame in seeking help if you need it.
Nothing will ever change the fact that a car accident is a frightening and difficult thing to live through, but what happens in the following months and years is really up to you. A lot can be accomplished simply by empowering yourself and making the decision to feel better. The chances are slim that you will have a second car accident soon after the first, so give yourself permission to relax. The more you practice safe and intelligent driving, the further the memories from the accident will be from your mind.
Shelby Warden is a legal researcher that writes articles to raise awareness for our communities. The Maryland car accident attorney firm of Price Benowitz LLP is dedicated to fighting for the rights of injured victims. The firm knows that when individuals suffer from PTSD after an accident, it can cause an increase in accident related expenses and creates additional pain and suffering.