Fear of Driving-Vehophobia
Fear of Driving is defined in the current mental disorders classification system as a situational phobia within specific phobias. It is characterized by an intense and persistent fear that increases with the anticipation or exposure to the driving stimuli. Recent studies have shown that the prevalence of this phobia is of 4% of the population, although the percentage of people with some type of driving-related fear could raise up to 22%. The symptoms of this phobia can cause significant discomfort and serious interference with the daily lives of the patients.
Certain factors affect the intensity of the patient’s emotional reaction to driving. The typical and most important ones are: speed, weather, amount of traffic, distance to be covered, time of day, driving alone or with company, where the patient is driving through, characteristics of the road, type of car, etc.
Virtual reality has proved to be a good alternative to traditional exposure techniques in the treatment of driving phobia. It enables the standardization and control over the exposure session parameters. Also, VR is especially useful in repeating the exposure as many times as needed to those situations on the road that are unpredictable or last a limited amount of time. Taking into account that the treatment takes place at the therapist practice, VR also reduces chances of suffering an accident and saves the patient some embarrassment.