Driving Fears and Phobia: Origins


Fear plays an important part in the survival of the human species and is entirely natural and normal. A phobia is an innate response that’s become stuck in the wrong gear. Overtime this can escalate into an embarrassing barrier to the demands of daily life.

In this post, we at Surepass would like to reassure you that there IS help and our expert instructors empathise with nervous drivers and, with our years of experience, can tailour a lesson plan that will gradually ease you into every aspect of learning to drive.

Sufferers certainly shouldn’t feel alone, the fight or flight response is at the very core of human survival and were it not here, we wouldn’t be here. A sabre tooth tiger would have had our tribe for brunch long ago.

At the core of the issue is an event or habit that, left unchallenged for a length of time, has snowballed into an irrational, repeated behaviour, often regardless of the consequences. Agoraphobia – the fear of going outside – being the most obvious.

Freedom from fear can’t come from doing what you have always done. And this thinking now has scientific backing in the form of neurobiology.

The brain is plastic or elastic, according to scientists. Neuroplasticity is the buzzword amongst biologists and psychologists exploring cognitive science – the science of why we do the things we do! As with many areas of study, the boundaries between the two are beginning to blur with each specialty bringing its own interpretation of the problem.

Thanks to this marriage of disciplines, we are more tooled up than ever to confront the psychological barriers which delay our progress. This thinking is applicable whether driving a car to a fear of spiders – and similar strategies will work for both.

And here’s why:

For the most part, as we grow, our experiences, thoughts and actions create pathways in the brain, and repeated reactions cement themselves as neuro pathways in the brain.


An action that has been performed previously will already have an assigned route. An action, or even a thought, that is performed repeatedly, will have a well-worn route that the brain can and will default to.

This is why when you CAN drive, people will often ‘phase out’ and perform the action of driving completely unconsciously. We see this when riding a bike – “you never forget” – or when reaching for a door handle, for example; the motion requires very little, if any, conscious thought at all.

Now, when the response is accompanied by heightened, or extremes of emotion – trauma – it is internalised, scorching a pathway in the brain and, over time, we tend to forget or repress the unpleasant feeling, where it then becomes unconscious. Thus: “I’m scared, but I don’t know why”, or I DO know why “but I can’t help it”.

We can now appreciate that this statement is actually very true.

You may have witnessed a collision which has left you scared of busy roads or perhaps a parent would jest about how clumsy you were, leaving you feeling rather incapable.

Our past experiences shape who we are today. Without acknowledging when and where these fears were formed; how these fears arose and why; the question then becomes: how to free ourselves?

Without focused attention and effort, acquiring this new skill, this new found freedom, cannot come about – literally.

But with Surepass, it’s easier than you may think.

Think about travelling through a jungle, the person at the front hacks away at the overgrowth, making it all the easier for those following. And this is where our expert Advance Driving Instructors come in…

In our next blog we will introduce you to a number of avenues of rehabilitation and recovery, tried and tested methods proposed by behavioural experts and psychologists, in the various techniques for confronting your fear.

Be Sure to check out the helpful links, as well as our social media where we post regular updates related to learners and instructors but also free media for driving links to YouTube and video simulations for drivers and learners alike. Don’t forget we can take all types of learners who are particularly nervous.

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