Does fear ever go away or does it morph into cautiousness?

My Uber drivers. Maybe Uber isn’t a bad idea!

In a way I’m still recovering from my auto accident in early July. Not my body. That recovered a while back. It’s my head that that I can’t wrap around everything related to driving.

Digging deep, I am very disappointed in myself. There were six ways from Sunday (when was the last time you heard that idiom?) that I could have avoided the collision but in the moment, I couldn’t pull it together. Cars are big killing machines.

There is a part of me that blames aging. If I was younger I would have had a faster reaction time (maybe). My synapses would have been snapping and reflexes good. I could have avoided the severe damage to my beloved car. In my head I know looking back is useless except to find lessons. So how do I become younger? Sharper? Faster? Compensate with more careful driving?

I love the new car. The safety advances between a 2014 and a 2021 are amazing. My car will stop if it senses a front end collision and it works. It will pull the car back in a lane if it drifts. The back-up camera is wonderful. My old one bordered on being useless. There was almost always a glare that made seeing difficult, especially when you needed it most. The new one looks like a movie screen and angled for perfect vision in any weather.

The beeping has become my friend. I know where to look for the problem. At the beginning every time it beeped I was sure death was imminent. I could see angels coming.

Even with all these safety features I get nervous sliding in the driver’s seat. People have said that it gets better and maybe it does. It’s almost four months in the rearview and it hasn’t yet.

Another unexpected side effect is that I get nervous when anyone else drives. I brake for them. I steer for them. I am a delightful passenger as I remind them they are going 2.4 miles over the speed limit. I’m just a joy to be around!

Everything is getting intense because of the shorter days. Driving at night is worse. The bears have the right answer. Time to hibernate.

76 thoughts on “Does fear ever go away or does it morph into cautiousness?

    • I’m not particularly patient. In addition to the fear of driving, I still have some chest discomfort. If I’d be 30 years younger (maybe even just 10) I think I would have recovered physically and mentally faster. However, I’m very grateful that I wasn’t seriously injured.

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  1. I sympathize with you Kate…..I guess time is the answer. I didn’t drive for years after an accident when I was a teenager and that was a big mistake. But LOL – your descriptions “I was sure death was imminent. I could see angels coming!” and the comment about the bears! You do have a way with words. PS. I’ve never heard of that idiom six ways from Sunday?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I understand how that happens (the not driving part). If I could I would stop. My mother was younger than I am now when she stopped driving but she had me and some friends to give her rides. (I forgot to have kids now I have no backup! 🙂 ) The idiom is really “six ways to Sunday” and it means trying every possible way to achieve something. There are always more than one way.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thankfully, I haven’t been in a bad car accident, and so I can’t speak from experience. But I’ve noticed what feels to me to be an increase in driving impatience and we’ve had some very . close calls lately. I am really admiring of the fact that you’re still getting out there and driving, regardless of the fear factor. I have a few friends barely in their 70’s who have all but given up driving. I don’t think that’s an answer. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • It may not be an answer but when you start to doubt your skills, I get it. Night time driving with halos around bright lights is more difficult. Fortunately there are alternatives now. When my mother gave up driving (around age 70) she had to rely on friends and family to get rides. Today there is Uber and such and on-line purchasing. She would have loved that. She liked to be independent but when you give up driving you give up part of your independence too.

      Liked by 1 person

      • My mother-in-law gave up driving by 70 as well. I think of her often now that I’m at this age and can’t imagine. But when it starts to feel really risky, we are at least fortunate to have so many outside supports that assist. Uber etc. is a gift!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. This won’t make you feel better. My guy and I were rear-ended 2 1/2 years ago. He was driving, and now as a passenger every time we stop I look backwards to make sure the car behind us is stopping too. Every. time. ;-0
    And I’ve stopped driving at night because of vision problems. Sigh. But safety comes first. Don’t be so hard on yourself!

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    • Actually I feel better knowing that the night driving thing isn’t just me. My brakes failed. They went down to the floor like a piece of paper. Now when I drive I occasionally “test” the brakes to make sure they are working. It’s a brand new car and I worry about brakes!

      Liked by 1 person

      • That is a total nightmare. And a good reminder to us to always check brakes as we leave the home. I am always so extra careful looking behind me before I back up. When I was a young teen I saw a neighbor mom back up out of her driveway right into a car that was parked on the other side of the street. Totaled it! She screamed for what seemed like an hour. That never left me.

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  4. Since the pandemic my wife has gotten skittish about driving. I doubt the pandemic has anything to do with it, but that’s when it all started anyway. The big mistake my dad made when my mom retired is that he took over all the driving, and she allowed that to happen. It’s critical both partners drive! – Marty

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    • It is. My mother didn’t get her license until after my dad died. She was 45 and never was comfortable driving. Back then it was easier to not drive. There was a butcher truck and milk man that came around and made deliveries and my parents always did their grocery shopping on Friday night. Today it’s much harder. My sis-in-law does not drive. She always needs rides. Fortunately my brother takes her but before he retired she had to take a bus, walk or get a ride. I can’t even imagine not having the freedom.

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  5. I am a delightful passenger too, Kate… just ask SSNS! I don’t like to drive at night and I am more than willing to let Jerry do the driving. I feel like I have spatial issues and my reflexes are not up to fending off 90 year old drivers here who have no idea what is going on around them. If I wanted to truly keep driving I would be okay. I think that because you really want to keep driving your fear will become less. Time will help.

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  6. Kate, it does get better. I had a very similar situation a while ago, which triggered some pretty bad driving anxiety. It takes and while, but it does get better. You are only 4 months out from a big scary event. Give yourself time! Hugs!

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  7. Luckily, you’ve had some time to get acclimated to the new car with its bells and whistles before the snow flies – something more to intimidate you. I admire that you got back on that horse so quickly afterward … I don’t know if I could. I think I told you that I have never been able to merge on an expressway after a semitrailer sped up and cut off my friend and I and the car started to go sideways into the concrete side of the expressway. We didn’t crash but that split second seeing him barreling onto the expressway and not slowing down and anticipating the impact lives with me forever. Surface streets are my friend.

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    • I didn’t drive for at least 2 weeks and then only when someone else was in the car and only to Starbucks. It took a while before I ventured out by myself. I’ve seen some really bad driving lately. I don’t know if the pandemic intensifies people’s anger or sense of self. I’m laying off the night driving for a while.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t blame you for that at all. I will go on a service drive to an expressway and that suits me fine for now. The metro Detroit area has all these random freeway shootings since the pandemic began, so I’m not liking taking any freeway journey ever. We also have a lot of crazy driving and I’ve heard interviews with the state police and local police saying that the pandemic has created monsters because people are way too aggressive and the smallest thing sets them off and causes road rage. I’ve not driven at night in years now – the crime has gotten too bad. I did laugh about you braking when your husband was driving. My mom did that all the time and she never drove a day in her life!

        Liked by 1 person

          • And even if a judge sentenced that person to anger management training, it wouldn’t help either. Here it’s even more than driving/road rage – we had a rape of a 9-year old girl on Sunday. They got the perp today, just out of jail in May after spending 10 years in jail for another rape conviction. The girl escaped and a Good Samaritan took her to the police station. She had her wits about her and gave descriptions of where he took her and a description as well. She was walking and got lost – he seized on that and asked if she was lost/could he drive her home. My mom drilled in my head never to get in the car with a stranger, even a neighbor. I wish her mom had drilled that into her head as well.

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  8. I don’t drive. If I can’t walk to where I want to go, I take the bus, or a friend will give me a ride. I am a very good passenger. I just sit and enjoy the scenery. I think anyone who drives is a wonder.

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  9. Hopefully it will get better for you Kate.
    Hubby and I both find it useful having another driver as a passenger though. I don’t enjoy driving as much as I used to, mainly because traffic is too heavy and there are a lot of idiots on the road driving too fast and hogging the road coming round corners. I also hate driving at night now.

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  10. Maybe it also has something to do with some of the crazy drivers we have to deal with. I was fully stopped at a four way traffic light. The light was red. It had been red. All of a sudden a car goes flying by in the next lane right through the red light. How s/he didn’t cause a major collision was just pure luck. It scared me beyond belief. Driving at night? I avoid it if at all possible. I hope you feel more confident as time passes, but just give yourself a break because it’s stressful out there with other folks going 15-20 mph over the speed limit at all times.

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  11. One positive that might come out of it (if you don’t hit me for saying this) is that at least your stepping up to 7 years of new tech is a much less painful trip than mine from my 2001 Navigator!!! to the 2019 Infiniti. I am losing my mind. I don’t know how to do anything except play the bluetooth.

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      • That is your self-preservation instinct (and trauma reaction) at work. My father-in-law would have you driving constantly to “get back on the horse.” Clearly he knows nothing about trauma. I suggest you take it in small doses; no need to re-traumatize yourself at every turn. Your nervous system needs a little time to calm down and return to normal. Your reaction is normal, so maybe it’s ok to just accept that things will be a bit strange for awhile and give yourself time. Nothing wrong with that.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. I understand your feelings, Kate. I have all of the same safety features on my car, but it still doesn’t lower my anxiety when I get behind the wheel. In order to get to my work, I have to drive through some high crime areas, where people drive like maniacs. I think they’re either fleeing from a crime scene or have just stolen a car. It’s definitely gotten worse since Covid. I say a prayer whenever I leave my house that I arrive alive. It seems like a lot of people on the road are full of anger and rage. I’d love to move to a small town with one stoplight!

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  13. It’s great that you have all those safety features.Very handy.

    Over twenty years ago, a car swerved into my lane on the interstate. The resulting accident totaled my car, but no one was seriously injured. Yet to this day, if I am in the left lane and there’s a car in the same spot on my right, I swear I can see the car heading into my lane. Even when it’s not drifting at all. I have to ignore my own shrieking lizard brain and not overreact by swerving away.

    Trauma will make your brain play tricks on you.

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    • My husband has something like that. He brakes for green lights. He was in an accident where someone ran a red light so now he instinctively brakes even if he has clear vision and can see no cars coming. It’s a learned habit that is firmly entrenched and will never change.

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  14. It WILL get better and less intense. Consider the fact that you don’t drive extensively anyway…so 4 months really isn’t enough time/space to heal those mental scars. Bears seem to have a good outlook on life. Gorge themselves all autumn, then fall asleep for winter. Nothing wrong with that in these shorter daylight hours.

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  15. We just watched LAND starring and directed by Robin Wright . . . about a woman who moves to the mountains of Wyoming to live on the land, sans car, traffic, or people.

    It wouldn’t work for you ~> No Starbucks. 😀

    Good luck. Time heals. Patience helps. Recovery is a process that is not always linear ~ we do a few loop-di-loops on our way back to who we were.

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          • Lord Ganesha is the Master of Wisdom and Knowledge. He is the remover of obstacles, and guardian of beauty, prosperity, grace and compassion. Lord Ganesha is the first deity to be reverenced in Hindu rites. He is a guardian of doors of houses and temples. He is the God that removes the internal and external obstacles to our success, and he is the one that grants the opening of your spiritual gifts. He is also the protector of all beings.

            Lord Ganesha is the Guardian of Knowledge, representing the sage, or a state of consciousness where a man reaches self-realization and plenitude of gifts.

            A very loose translation might be:
            Om = Salutations! Everyone wake up!
            Gam = The secret power sound of Ganesh. It is his “seed syllable” or bija mantra.
            Ganapataye = Another name of Ganesh, the breaker of obstacles.
            Namaha = Yo! Ganesh! You da God!

            The pronunciation is also pretty easy:
            Om = ohm or aum
            Gam = Somewhere between “gahm” and “gum”. In some dialects, it is “guhng”.
            Ganapataye = gah-nah-paht-ah-yeh
            Namaha – Nah-mah-ha

            To read more:
            https://humanityhealing.net/2012/01/om-gam-ganapataye-namaha/

            Liked by 1 person

  16. I still love driving. It’s the traffic I hate. So many angry, stressed people on the road whose only outlet is taking it out on other drivers, it seems. And then there are the distracted drivers. I drive like everyone else is a homicidal maniac who is out to get me. They called this “defensive driving” back when I was taking lessons. In other words, trust no one. So far this is working and I am staying out of trouble. 😉 Thankfully I have lots of opportunity to drive the “open road” with little or no traffic, compared to my old home in Ontario. I don’t know if I could handle driving in a more populous area anymore.

    Deb

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    • I lived in North Jersey, land of all the interstate highways so I am surprised. I’ve always been a Jersey driver (aggressive but kind) but lately, I’ve been avoiding it. At least since the pandemic a lot more restaurants deliver.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Well, Kate, if you ARE going to become a hermit, you’ve had plenty of practice over the past 1-1/2 years with lockdowns, and winter is always a good time to stay indoors anyhow! If only Starbucks would start a delivery service like so many other places do, you’d be all set! Honestly, I think the more you get out and about, the more comfortable you’ll become. Nobody wants to immediately get back on the horse that threw them or the bicycle that just dumped them. It’s like any other fear – you overcome it at your own pace. And I do believe you’ll overcome it!

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  18. I recently (2019) traded in my 2001 vehicle for a new one. I still find the electronics rather distracting as I look around for the reason behind the beep while driving, but my biggest adjustment that I am not making is simply the increased traffic and decreased courtesy on the roads. It is such an issue that I am seriously considering getting rid of the vehicle. Base on my usual mileage, I can hire a limo to get me around as necessary and it would still be cheaper than my auto insurance alone. Fortunately, I am within walking distance of most of my “needs”, but I am just trying to get my head around losing the convenience of having a vehicle sitting here for whenever I need it. I will get there, but not this year! 🙂

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    • We are too rural to walk to anything but that would be ideal. Most of my trips are under 10 miles round trip. I drive less than 3K miles a year but I still need to be able to get around. Our area, because of access to interstate roads, has become a huge area for warehouses which brings in heavy truck traffic. So add that into the equation. I am finding too many drivers are reckless, weaving in and out to get somewhere 5 minutes (or less) faster. Courtesy went the way of the dinosaur.

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