participant's experiencesback in the DRIVER'S SEAT

about the programme

about the book

participant's experiences

about us

contact us

The website is available for people who have participated in the Back in the Drivers Seat ™ programme to contribute their stories and experiences. Writing about your achievements and challenges can be a way of acknowledging your progress and motivating others to challenge and overcome their fear. Below are the stories from the Back in the Drivers Seat book of some representative participants in the programme (names and personal details have been changed to protect privacy).


"I’m 21 and had never driven on my own. I was too scared to go for my licence. There were mixed feelings amongst my friends and family about my fear of driving. Some couldn’t understand why I felt anxious. Dad said it was just a case of getting in the car and driving. Mum was more sympathetic. She understood my fear because she has the same problem and has never driven. I tried to drive. I had a few lessons with my ex-boyfriend. He was always criticising me for any mistakes like forgetting to put the indicator on or going too slow. I ended up making more mistakes because I was feeling so nervous. I started to believe that he was right and that I wasn’t a good driver and it was probably dangerous for me to be on the road given how nervous I felt. I thought that something bad would happen if I drove. In the end it seemed easier to be a passenger.

There isn’t a regular bus timetable in my area so I had to rely on friends and family to get around. I’ve lost track of the number of invitations I had to turn down because there was no way I could get there. I worked part-time because it fitted in with Dad being able to pick me up. I didn’t apply for full-time jobs because the ones I really liked needed a driver’s licence. I felt like I was in a rut and life was passing me by."


"I never enjoyed driving. I only drove when it was necessary like going to work or taking the kids to school. I’ve had a couple of minor accidents but nothing that caused me any great worry or major damage to the car. I just seemed to become less confident in my driving and would only go places and on roads that were familiar. I pulled over when I started feeling panicky or felt I couldn’t cope. My kids are very active and heavily involved in sport. Most of the time they play sport outside our local area. If I wasn’t familiar with where the sports ground was or how to get there I started feeling anxious and ended up arranging for the kids to have a lift with another parent. I tended to make excuses like it might be quicker if they went with someone else or that I wasn’t feeling well. This meant I missed seeing them play. They were disappointed and so was I.

No-one knew about my fear. Probably because people saw me driving they didn’t know how anxious I got thinking about driving in unfamiliar places and the energy it took to make excuses for not doing it. I realised that, not only for me but also for the sake of my children, I needed to be more confident with my driving."


"My husband and I moved to the city about 10 years ago as part of our retirement plan. I initially stopped driving altogether because I was anxious about driving in busy traffic and crossing the bridge that connected the area that we lived within the city. However, my husband was happy to drive me around so there really wasn’t a problem.

About four months ago, my husband had a sudden heart attack and has since experienced a series of health problems. This meant that he was unable to drive. I realised how much I relied on him for transport. It was harder to see my friends and I wasn’t able to get to my weekly craft classes. Taxis were too expensive. I also worried that, because I didn’t drive, I wouldn’t be able to get my husband to a doctor quickly in an emergency. I have always been a confident and capable person in most areas of my life and enjoy a challenge. I felt such a failure because of my fear of driving. I hadn’t driven for 10 years and realised that I had lost my independence by not driving."


"I was coming home from work. It had been raining after a stint of hot weather. I was waiting at the traffic lights when a car slammed into the back of me. The impact made a mess of my car. I hurt my neck and was off work for two months, going back and forth to medical appointments. The hardest part about the accident was how nervous I felt thinking about driving again. I found this to be quite weird because before the accident I loved driving. I would take my family on a drive every weekend. After the accident I felt panicky driving in the rain and avoided going past the site of the accident if I could. I was always looking in the rear vision mirror when I stopped at traffic lights and intersections, just checking to make sure no one was coming up too fast behind me- – I didn’t want to have another accident.

Even now, when my wife is driving, I’m always looking out for things happening on the road just in case she misses them. I hang onto the seat pretty tightly and my foot instinctively ‘brakes’ for her. I’ve been driving for 20 years and this was my first accident. I’m a safe driver and I feel pretty angry because the accident wasn’t even my fault".




understanding, challenging and managing the fear of driving

site contents © copyright 2003