How to regain confidence after a car accident? This is a question that inevitably comes to mind after the dust has settled.
The truth is that a lot of drivers after having a hard and sometimes traumatic experience (which a car accident is), feel reluctant, insecure, or are afraid to drive again.
This problem can even get to a point where driving is not an option anymore.
But, as this article will show you, there is a way to regain confidence and hopefully return behind the steering wheel with a smile on your face.
It’s only fair to mention where all of the „wisdom“ in this article is coming from.
Sad to say, from a rich personal experience.
It starts from a few smaller accidents (bent bumpers and dented fenders) and is concluded with a major, life-threatening accident where a friend of mine and I finished with some bigger bruises while the other participants had to be rushed to a hospital.
Not to worry, apart from a lot of material damage, all of us, thank God, survived.
Some of the minor accidents were caused by my own negligence and lack of experience while the most serious one was caused by a drunk driver.
I hope that this is incentive enough to continue reading and to give tips on how to regain confidence after a car accident.
10 TIPS ON HOW TO REGAIN CONFIDENCE AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT
1. FIND SOME ACTIVITY THAT WILL KEEP YOUR MIND AWAY FROM THE ACCIDENT
The first period after the accident is perhaps the worst.
What happened, why it happened, the thoughts just go on and on. It’s like a movie in your head that’s set on replay.
Constantly reliving the whole experience is exhausting, stressful, and damages the overall health.
For this reason, try to find some activity that will re-route your thoughts.
It may be a hobby, a sport, watching your favorite series perhaps. It’s all good as long as it helps.
I would recommend also involving some physical work as this is one of the best remedies (helped me a lot).
2. GIVE YOURSELF SOME TIME
If you want to learn how to regain confidence after a car accident, you have to realize that it will take time.
It’s simply the nature of things.
For some people, it takes only days and for some it takes months. Best listen to yourself and do what’s best for you.
You’ll know it’s time to sit behind the steering wheel when you get that natural urge for driving and have a pleasant feeling again.
3. AVOID DRIVING FOR A CERTAIN PERIOD OF TIME.
It’s best to combine the previously mentioned period of recovery with not driving.
You see, most people are shaken up after a car accident and that’s no condition to be in when driving. Besides this, driving may also revive the memory of the accident.
In both cases, it’s not normal. Going into traffic in this state means that you may well pose a threat to both yourself and other participants.
Also, as chance will often have it, you may, while driving, encounter another dangerous situation which will even further deepen the fear and insecurity.
Just lay low for some time. Walk, ride a bicycle, perhaps ask someone to drive you around. It will help regain the wish for driving.
4. VISIT THE CRASH SITE
This is optional and I feel obliged to mention it because it helped me a lot.
You see, the truth is that most accidents happen in a matter of seconds. If there’s no video record, it’s just a big blur in your head.
Visiting the crash site is useful for shedding some light on the whole mishap and to drive away thoughts like: could I have reacted differently, was there something else that I could’ve done, and so on.
It can put a lot of bad thoughts to rest which is perhaps the best benefit and put the whole thing behind you more easily.
(I don’t recommend this tip if there’s any chance of causing trauma again by bringing back bad memories).
5. TALK TO PEOPLE THAT ALSO HAD CAR ACCIDENTS
One of the best ways to master how to regain confidence after a car accident is asking people with the same experience.
If you talk to people who haven’t actually been in a car accident it mostly comes down to pep-talk without any real effect. Trust me, simple comforting will not help, it may even be annoying.
When someone with experience puts you in front of him/her and tells you definitively what happened, how he/she got through it, how he/she managed to start driving again etc……that’s the kind of talk you need.
These people are most likely to put some wind in your sails again.
6. TRY TO AVOID GUILT TRIPS AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE
Guilt trips usually appear after the first, more turbulent period of the accident has passed.
They are especially present if you caused the accident.
Yes, if a driver was reckless, drunk, violent on the road, or neglected other people’s safety he or she should feel guilt.
But sometimes the situation, circumstances, lack of experience, and why not fate put you in a situation where you cause the accident although you do everything by the book. This tip is mainly dedicated to those kinds of drivers.
All that I can say on this part and from my own experience: guilt trips are useless and the only thing they do is ruin your health.
What happened, happened and you can’t change it. Better look ahead of you, perhaps learn some lessons for the future and better spend that time learning how to regain your confidence after a car accident.
7. DON’T THINK ABOUT THE MATERIAL DAMAGE
Mentioning this may seem out of line because the most important thing, above all, is that everybody walks away safe and sound from a car accident.
But let’s face it: the situation in real life tends to be somewhat different, especially when the accident is not that serious (minor collisions, dents, scratches, and so on).
In these cases, the concern for human life seems to transform to concern for material goods.
This is understandable to some extent a lot of repairs are very costly, sometimes the car is borrowed, young drivers take cars from their parents and so on.
Whatever the case may be and however difficult it may be to comprehend, know this: every material thing can be compensated for.
Yes, it may cost a lot but after some time both the spent money and repair will be a distant memory and perhaps a sideline subject of some future conversation.
Words of a wise man: the best outcome of a car accident is when only material damage is involved.
8. STOP THINKING „WHY ME“
The question „why me ?“ is one the most common questions after a car accident.
It’s usually followed by: How could I have such bad luck? Why did this happen now? What will I do? and so on.
Well, asking yourself this all the time only deepens the sense of desperation and depression. It also prolongs or prevents overcoming the feelings after the accident.
Face the fact that, just like in life, traffic can be unpredictable and trouble can happen in a matter of seconds. That’s just the way it is.
When I had a big accident I asked myself the same question. I got hit by a drunk driver, in my lane, while I was driving within the speed limit.
I did everything by the book, yet the accident happened.
Yes, I did ask myself why, but I soon concluded that the question is useless. I just thanked the higher power for keeping my friend and me in one piece.
Reroute the „why me“ to „thank heavens for saving me“ “how can I solve this” and „can I learn more about how to regain confidence after a car accident?
9. GET RID OF THE FEAR AS SOON AS POSSIBLE
Car accidents are one of the biggest causes of fear of driving and for a good reason.
Even a minor accident can strike fear into a driver so much so that he/she never gets behind the steering wheel again.
All that I can say is get rid of the fear as soon as possible as it is a major distraction and danger while driving.
If you’re interested in how to overcome the fear of driving, click here for a separate article on that topic.
For a definition, click here for one provided by Wikipedia.
10. ADAPT YOUR DRIVING
Hopefully, after some time, you’ll be able to drive again. If everything worked out and you feel comfortable and confident while driving, then disregard this tip.
On the other hand, if you feel a bit uneasy and nervous but can drive, then try adapting your usual driving.
Some of the best ways to do this:
- Drive for a shorter period of time. Don’t do long drives at first
- Use routes and roads that are familiar and have less traffic congestion
- If the accident site causes fear or discomfort, avoid driving near or through it for some time.
- Ask someone to come along with you. Nice company is good both for relaxing and someone can continue driving if you’re not up to it.
Know that this is just a general list, best tailor one to your own driving habits and needs.
The main point here is that in order to learn how to regain your confidence after a car accident, you must create a safe, comfortable, and pleasant surrounding and experience.
This immensely helps the transition to normal driving again.
All of these tips, like many others you’ll find, offer help and advice but not a solution.
The solution is the part you’ll have to find on your own. If you really want to know how to regain your confidence after a car accident, you must look within yourself and set things straight.
The facts must be clear, the truth must be told and above all, a strong will for driving must exist.
It will take time, patience, focus, and sometimes practice to drive again normally.
If you conclude that you really can’t, don’t despair. Better to face the fact than participate in traffic with fear and lack of confidence.
But in every man and woman, there is the ability to sit behind the steering wheel and drive again after an accident
If you succumb to fear, doubt or insecurity, you’ll deprive yourself of using one of the best inventions humankind has ever made.
Perhaps even worse, you’ll deprive yourself of the freedom and autonomy that driving gives you.
Besides this, picture yourself asking people for a ride every time you need to go somewhere and the possible inconvenience caused by that.
Think about all of this when you’re level of confidence is low and you don’t want to drive.
Written by: Sibin Spasojevic
Former car technician, life-long car and DIY enthusiast, author for Despairrepair.com