If you’ve been involved in a car crash, your physical injuries aren’t the only ones you need to deal with. Any crash will have a psychological effect as well.
One clinical psychologist says that it’s normal to be extra cautious when driving again and to feel some anxiety when you find yourself in a situation that reminds you of the crash. This could include passing the intersection where it happened or driving in the rain if it was raining at the time of the crash.
Typically, these feelings subside within a few weeks. There are some things you can do, according to one psychologist, that can help this process along. These include:
Writing down the entire story of what happened
This can help you clarify your memories, deal with your emotions and face the trauma.
Telling the story of the crash to family, friends and other compassionate listeners
You may have already told the police and insurance company everything you remember. However, telling the story to those you trust can help you keep from going over it again and again in your head, which isn’t healthy. When you tell the story, focus on the fact that you survived and are now safe.
Get back out on the road again — gradually
You may want to bring along someone to ride in the front seat at first. This can help calm you and give you confidence. Knowing that someone can take over the driving if necessary can help you feel safer.
If you’re nervous about being behind the wheel again, practice driving around your neighborhood or at times when there’s less traffic, so you don’t feel so pressured. However, don’t go out of your way to avoid the crash site. As the psychologist points out, “You’re feeding the anxiety” if you do that.
If you’re not able to get past your anxiety, it may be wise to seek counseling. Many people go to therapy to help process their feelings after a traumatic event. You may also find that taking a defensive driving class or a driver’s ed course can boost your confidence.
Be sure that you’re getting the compensation you need and deserve if you were the victim of a reckless or negligent driver. This can also improve your confidence and sense of control over a situation that was beyond your control.