Fear of driving over bridges is common. I have it. My mom has it. I have friends who have it. Of course, those who don’t have this fear don’t really understand it. After all, bridges seem to be so safe. So sturdy.
Why do people fear bridges? It’s hard to explain, but it essentially boils down to the potential disaster of it all. What if you’re in an accident and you go over the side? What if the bridge collapses? I’ll never forget seeing that on the news!
There are a lot of factors that are involved in the fear of driving over bridges. Rather than talking about treatment for it – because that would take several posts and professional counseling – we’re going to talk about how to deal with the fear.
How to Cope with Fear of Driving Over Bridges
So you have the bridge phobia. Maybe it’s mild, and you just get a little bit nervous. Maybe it’s severe, and you’d curl up into a ball on the floorboard if you could. Whatever the degree of your fear, there are some ways that you can cope with it.
Some of these are simply distractions, and some of them help you avoid the situation altogether. All of them, however, help you cope with the fear and/or anxiety that overtakes you when you find yourself faced with a bridge.
Avoid the Bridge
Obviously, the easiest way to cope with fear is to eliminate it. While you can’t magically snap your fingers and be cured, you can avoid the bridge. Find alternate routes on your travels that avoid bridges. If you can avoid the bridge, you avoid the trigger.
Find the Smallest Bridge
If you’re going to a destination that will at some point require crossing water, try to find alternate bridges to take. Many times, the bigger the bridge, the bigger the fear. If you can find a bridge that is shorter or lower, it can reduce your anxiety.
Avoid Heavy Traffic
If you must cross a bridge, try to time your drive so that you aren’t traveling in peak traffic times. That will allow you to cross the bridge faster and avoid possibly getting stuck in a traffic jam on it.
Roll Down the Windows
When you get to the bridge, roll down the windows. You’re already assuming that going over the side is a possibility, so you can at least alleviate a little bit of stress by knowing that when you do, the windows will be down, allowing you to easily exit the vehicle.
Bring an Emergency Escape Tool
Even if you like to roll down your windows, bring along an emergency escape tool. These tools are made to break car glass as well as cut seat belts, so you’ll have everything you need to extricate yourself from the car.
Call a Friend on Bluetooth
When you’re dealing with a fear of driving over bridges, one of the best distractions is a friendly voice. Call up a close friend hands-free and talk to them while going over the bridge. It helps take the edge off the fear.
Listen to Music or a Podcast
Even if you can’t fully focus on them, music or podcasts will help dull your fear somewhat. If nothing else, they become soothing background noise to help calm your mind.
Avoid Driving the Car
If you’re traveling with a friend or your significant other, let them drive over the bridge. While you might feel more control behind the driver’s seat, the reality is that you don’t want to be behind the wheel when you’re all hopped up on adrenaline. If you’re like me and feel like fainting when you’re out, you definitely don’t want to be the one driving.
Drink Calming Tea
Bring along a calming tea for the drive. There are many herbal teas on the market that act as natural mind and body relaxants. Give them a try to see how each one makes you feel. Find one that doesn’t make you sleepy to start sipping on about an hour before you’ll encounter the bridge.
Help Ease Your Fear of Driving Over Bridges
We all know that therapy is really the best way to approach any phobia. However, the above tips can help you cope with your fear of driving over bridges in the moment or as you go down your therapeutic path.
While the above tips won’t eliminate your fear of driving over bridges, they will help give you an extra sense of security and help take a little bit of the edge off of your journey.