This is my first post (Yay…) and I think I’ll just jump into it.
I recently narrowly avoided a fatal accident in which an SUV nearly creamed me all over the road.
I don’t really want to go into all the details, more because I’m sick of talking about it than having trouble doing it.
All you really need to know is that I probably shouldn’t be writing this right now and as a result I don’t like SUVs even more, but there was no actual collision.
What has happened since though, is that I’ve increasingly been having more and more trouble finding the nerve required to drive safely.
I find it hard to get up to highway speeds.
I find it hard pulling out into traffic.
I feel like my car is about to spin out on every turn.
And I feel like every SUV is out to kill me (Oh, yeah, that SUV from the incident tried to kill me).
Anyways, does anyone have any suggestions to get my nerve back?
Practice skillful driving techniques,
-Accelerate to freeway speed quickly but smoothly. You want to be at cruising speed when getting ready to merge into traffic i.e. don’t creep on to the freeway at 40MPH and then start accelerating. Freeways have on-ramps for a reason.
-Double check your left when pulling into traffic. When in doubt, don’t go. Wait for the “break” you need.
-Keep both hands on the wheel. Slow down for conditions like slick roads, poor visibility, etc, but don’t ride the brakes.
-Consider getting a big, safe feeling vehicle, not necessarily an SUV, but a full-size sedan with side impact airbags too.
What you are feeling is normal after a tramatic event. Some people never recover from near death events,most will recover with time. I almost got hit by a bus once (I was on a motorcycle) it took awhile for me to feel normal again.
About all I can tell you is to drive defensively, and ALWAYS look out for yourself first.
Honestly, it might not hurt to consult a psychologist. One of them might have better recommendations on how to overcome what could potentially be a budding phobia of driving.
You have to love driving in order to get over everything quickly. If not, there are some things that can cause fear to escalate. Kind of normal, I’d say. None of us can see the future, so we don’t know what to be afraid of, but driving is much safer for an alert, safe driver than it is for those drivers who create hazards or have major distractions.
Left to the random effects of daily driving, you are really safe. If you don’t go out looking to cause problems, the problems won’t find you. I won’t go on or in a lake, and I’m afraid of many things now that didn’t bother me when I could get around better. I’m just lucky not to be afraid of driving.
I drive safer because I tell myself that I love the other drivers and will try not to hurt them. They all have someone who would want them to be healthy and happy.
I read Sci-Fi by David Weber and John Ringo. Danger is everywhere for their characters; I’m happy that there is no danger in my life that is anywhere near what those people have to deal with. I have read all the Conan books and don’t have bad dreams about them. We drivers don’t have much to fear.
I guess I should elaborate.
I’m 27, so that’s 11 years of driving, and I’ve only been in one very minor accident that I was not at fault.
My driving record is spotless, and I honestly think that I am the safest driver I know. I know everyone thinks that they are a good driver, but I really mean it as I am ALWAYS in the dead center of the lane, and NEVER get too close to other vehicles.
I’m not really in need of learning good driving techniques.
My issue is that I need to get back to the mental state that I was in before this near fatal almost-crash.
I don’t know about you, but pass more fatal accidents than days in the year.
And I don’t think it’s possible to go a lifetime without being in at least one REALLY bad wreck.
Your personal driving skills have nothing to do with it either when the guy in the over sized vehicle bullies you all over the road and ping pongs around in their lane carelessly.
I swear it’s getting worse too.
I remember seeing vehicles and thinking “Okay, that guy’s drunk. I’ll keep my distance.” But lately I’m seeing this at all hours of the day, everyday. And I know it can’t just be me either as it seems like there is an absurd number of bashed up vehicles on the road here in North West Arkansas.
EDIT: Maybe this is just me going overly neurotic, maybe it’s me realizing what was always there, and maybe it genuinely getting worse. I can’t even tell.
You are right, there are impaired drivers at all hours of the day and night,not just after the bars close.
Refocus on the driving itself to get your thoughts away from the near-accident.
Make yourself talk about it. You need to unload.
And remember…you did NOT get in an accident,
you were NOT killed,
you did NOT get injured.
All you had was a near miss.
You might employ the services of a driving school. Interview the instructors so you get one that is willing to help you get your confidence back. Maybe, take a performance driving class. Hone your defense driving skills. Learn to use the capability of your vehicle. It is amazing how steering; braking; being in the right place; being aware of a developing situation; and having a escape plan in mind can work for you. Use this experience to refresh your driving knowledge, skill, and art.
What you have probably lost is your confidence in judging what maneuvers are safe. A lot of drivers are not concerned about safety and rely on other drivers to avoid and/or get out of their path. If they are driving a massive well built vehicle, they have a sense of invincibility i.e. I won’t be hurt if I am not careful.
Anyway get out there and work your confidence back up. Take care and be safe.
So if it had been a Geo that nearly hit you, would you have an irrational fear of subcompacts?
I’ve been driving for about 15 years now, I’ve never been in an accident, though there have been few close calls. Like the time back in highschool where two buddies and myself got into one of the buddy’s (Buddy #1, Travis) new Honda Accord and decided to go out to lunch. Buddy #2 (Bruce) asked if he could drive. Travis foolishly agreed. On the way to lunch it, on a street with a 35 MPH speed limit mind you, Bruce decides to see what the car can do, and stands on the gas, We get up to about 85-90 MPH, on a wet road. Bruce fails to notice a stop light that had just turned yellow about 150 yards ahead. (I’m the back seat the entire time, getting more panicky by the second), Travis yells at Bruce to slow down. Bruce jams on the brakes, the car goes sideways, and slides through the intersection at about 90 degree angle vs. the path of normal traffic. (the traffic light had just turned red). Bruce who is now channeling Gilles Villeneuve straightens the car back out and manages to bring the car to a halt no more than 4 feet from the rear bumper of another car that was waiting at the next traffic light down from the one we just blew through at some 70 MPH sideways. Needless to say Travis reached over took the keys out of the ignition and told Bruce that he’s riding in the back from now on. I release my death grip from the grab handle on the back door, and Bruce and I switch places. The rest of the trip is mercifully unremarkable. Good Times.
Anyway, to the OP, just man up and get back on the road. Stuff happens.
What Car Make, Model And Year Are You Currently Driving?
I feel this way if I am ever forced to ride in a small car which would be no match for half the vehicles on the road. I don’t believe this is an unreasonable fear. One could be creamed all over the road.
Consider doing what I have done and Jeffmw05 has suggested, “-Consider getting a big, safe feeling vehicle, not necessarily an SUV, but a full-size sedan with side impact airbags too.”
If you’re already in a substantive vehicle with modern safety features then do as Fodaddy suggests, “Anyway, to the OP, just man up and get back on the road. Stuff happens.”
I believe you would really benefit from taking a DEFENSIVE DRIVING course. These are given by most auto associations, and make people more aware of the traffic around them so they can avoid dangerous situations. Talk to your AAA and see what they have.
When I was 16, I went out of school during lunch break in my friends F350. Big truck + 3 month exp. is a bad mix. He tipped that thing with 5 of us in it. I hated trucks and SUVs more than ever. But then I had some opportunity to drive those things more and more and feel comfortable with them again. Eventually, I got the nerve to drive a tour bus on mountain road to ski resort. Sitting up that high, you can see the 500 ft drop.
I don’t intend to ever own a truck or SUV. I like the agility that my car offers. But I have no problem driving SUVs. You need to drive around your neighborhood slowly, keep your eyes moving, and know that whatever you’re doing is minimizing your risk. You gotta slowly getting back on the road and get a sense of what normal driving feels like. When I drive a bus next to a 500ft drop, I don’t think about what my friend did with his F350. I concentrate on what I had to do that moment because that’s normal driving.
Have you considered seeing a psychologist?
Many people drive thousands of miles over a lifetime and don’t have an accident. You obviously avoided one. I used to hate the idea of flying. However, observing the number of airliners that take off and land at a major airport each day without incident makes me realize that the chances of something happening are very slim. I talked to an attendant once who had been in a crash landing. I asked why she kept flying. Her reply, " The chances of this happening again are near zero". Think about it like this–you avoided the crash. Keep your wits about you and your chances are very slim of having another such experience.
“Loosing nerve after near death incident”
Your nerves are loose? They should definitely be tightened!
Seriously, however, I would suggest that you check your medical insurance to determine what type of coverage you have for counseling/therapy. Many policies cover this, and I think that you could benefit from some time with a qualified professional.
Sometimes, a spotless driving record coupled with few years of experience means you haven’t ‘‘been there , done that’’ to have the feel of the methods of emergency maneuvers, or the perception for those odd-ball scenarios you want to avoid.
Your ‘driving’ experience is waaaay too narrow. You’ve encountered, nor practiced, little else besides ‘driving’.
Your sub-concious mind has no real grasp of what you did or did’t do to avoid the accident, nor of what you should know and practice for future situations so that you CAN avoid others.
----- This NOT knowing is the basis of your fear -----
Hence, I too , love the ideas of driving schools, Performance AND defensive, to build within you the experience of the potential scenarios and the sub-concious thinking to use the appropriate procedures when needed. ( yep, sometimes speeding up, as opposed to braking will avoid an accident )
When getting my private pilot’s license, from day one they HAMMERED into me the emergency procedures so that those actions would , in fact , be sub-concious when needed since theres little time to stop and wonder in the air.
DRIVING SCHOOL is your very best recourse to allay your fears since no one can honestly advise ‘‘go out and get in a few accidents to gain experience’’.
You say "I’m not really in need of learning good driving techniques."
You’re in need of learning the bad ones and how to co-ordinate yours with theirs.
Driving schools. If ALL you know are those few ‘good driving techniques’ THAT’S too narrow an experience pool to draw from.
I can second the good advice you have already been given:
It is NOT abnormal to be afraid after an experience like that. A couple of years ago a red-light-runner clipped off the front cowl and bumper of my car. Since then I have been REAL careful about pulling out when the light turns green – but that’s good.
A good psychologist can really help you get your mental balance back. And VDCdriver makes an excellent point – your medical insurance might cover some of it. (Too bad we don’t have a Find-A-Therapist function like the Mechanix Files.)
Driving school might help, but I’d wait for the therapist’s recommendation.
Good luck. And I’m afraid of SUVs, too. I recently rode with a guy in his Suburban; city driving. He made lane changes and turns as if there were nobody else around.
I think what you are experiencing is healthier than ignoring the event or acting in denial of it. Give it some time and continue to drive with care and caution for the moment. For now driving is not fun and there is no adventure in it, but you need to get groceries and get to work so do the driving you have to do.
In time you should feel more comfortable again as you have more driving experiences without the “dramatic” events. Actually I commend you for continuing to drive even with the discomfort. Just keep it up and this to shall pass.