After you have been injured in an accident, it can be difficult to get reengaged and back onto the road. It’s ironic, but people who are careful and considerate drivers tend to struggle the most. If they were driving at the time of the crash, they will inevitably ask themselves over and over again if there was something they could have done to prevent it, especially if others were hurt.
Then, there are the natural effects of injury. When you have been hurt in a violent accident, you become more sensitive to risk. For some, this is a much-needed reality check. For others, it can be a paralysing fear that prevents them from doing what they need to in order to navigate their lives, as they must, in a car.
Road accidents cause psychological trauma
An Australian study looked at psychological disorders related to road accidents, using data from the mid-1990s. The study found that 5.7 percent of people who had been involved in road accidents developed clinically defined Acute Anxiety Disorder, 6.6 percent acquired a specific phobia of driving and 13.1 percent were diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It seems safe to assume that untreated and sub-clinical cases are even more widespread. In fact, speaking to people who have been involved in road accidents will reveal the truth. There are almost always psychological consequences, but they are most often dealt with privately.
Give yourself time to recover
If you have been injured in a road accident, then give yourself time to heal both physically and mentally. It will be easier to get back to normal once you’ve recovered from injuries or adjusted to any permanent changes in your body. Do your physical therapy exercises. Stay as active as you can. When you do go back to work, take it easy on yourself for a while. Concentrate on getting well.
Beat the fear
When you get back behind the wheel, do whatever you need to in order to feel safer, and whatever you need to in order to understand and accept the real risk involved in driving. People often avoid thinking about the dangers they know are associated with driving, but accident victims are very aware of those risks. Accept them and do what you can to minimise them. Perhaps lessons in defensive driving would help. Many road accident victims who were previously aggressive drivers find that switching to a more conservative style makes them feel safer.
Young drivers and road accidents
There’s a reason for the high cost of young drivers insurance. Young people do not have enough driving experience to adequately gauge and mitigate the risks associated with being on the road. They have watched chase scenes and races on television, they are not used to picking up and responding to cues from other drivers, and they do not have a clear idea of how serious the consequences of their actions can be. If you’re a young driver and you have been involved in an accident, then you can find yourself moving from an overly carefree attitude to paralysing fear. You will have to find a middle road, and it may take some work, including a large dose of self-awareness.
Finally, if the trauma from a car accident is affecting your ability to drive, to focus or to live happily, then seek psychological treatment. Flashbacks, fear of driving, anxiety and even depression are common in road accident survivors, and medical professionals can help.