An anxiety disorder that provokes an irrational fear when driving a vehicle and according to the II report on Amaxophobia by the department of prevention and road safety at MAPFRE FOUNDATION, it affects 1.5 million people with driving licenses in Spain alone, around 6% of all drivers. In a mild form, approximately 33% of drivers recognize that they have a fear of driving under certain conditions such as bad weather, in heavy traffic, night driving and on unfamiliar roads, among others.
The term Amaxophobia comes from the Greek amaxos (carriage) and fobos (fear), It shouldn’t be confused with the fear characteristic in new drivers, which soon disappears with time and experience. Amaxophobia can manifest itself at any time with symptoms from anxiety, agitation and sweating at the prospect of driving a vehicle to full-blown panic attacks.
Those that suffer this are not isolated cases, it is quite common in our society and can be attributed to different factors: having been involved in an accident, a panic attack, feeling extreme stress at the wheel or knowing that there loved ones have been involved in some sort of road accident causing the person to have painful memories associated with driving, etc. These factors can cause a person to suffer from amaxophobia, an accumulation of negative feelings while driving, feeling stressed and with varying levels of fear. This is why there are people with a driving license cannot drive as they are paralyzed by fear, known as incapacitating amaxophobia. Others, under certain conditions such as bad weather heavy traffic, type of road, etc. Suffer distress, sweats, vertigo on bends and permanent unease. The fear can be caused due to feeling responsible for the other passengers, especially children. The fear they feel can increase their feeling of vulnerability and nervousness.
Amaxophobia is a risk factor when driving, the anxiety it causes is a negative factor when making decisions, and it can reduce the capacity to react in a dangerous situation. The good news is that it can be treated and in the majority of cases completely overcome. Fear is a natural emotion: without it we can be reckless and we shouldn’t forget that we are talking about a phobia linked to something that has really happened and every method of transport carries with it a level of risk. The most effective therapy is exposure. A return to driving with an expert, confronting the fear from a safe place and little by little change our ideas about the threat posed by traffic to change our perception of our capacity and aptitude for driving and finally overcome our desire to run away from driving.