Psychological Effects of Road Traffic Accidents

How many people are affected emotionally?

It is now well established that, in addition to physical injury (or even in its absence), a significant proportion of road traffic accident survivors experience a psychological injury.

Statistics from the department of transport for 2011 report 20,986 serious, non-fatal RTA’s on British roads in a 12 month period. Research coming out of the USA suggests that we can expect up to 30% of survivors involved in these accidents to experience an emotional injury.

This finding suggests a figure of around 6,000 individuals per year can be expected to suffer an emotional reaction after an accident on the road.

What kinds of emotional reactions are seen in RTA survivors?

Changes in driving behaviour (in the form of anxiety, avoidance, or inability to drive or travel comfortably in a car) are the most commonly reported difficulties. The following are examples of the way driving phobia can impact on driving behaviour:

  • Avoidance of motorways
  • Inability to travel outside a limited “safe” area
  • Anxiety as a passenger (e.g. warning the driver, pressing an imaginary brake)
  • Excessive planning around car travel
  • Inability to overtake
  • Fear around lorries
  • Hesitation/anxiety at roundabouts and junctions
  • Fear of crossing the road, or walking near traffic
  • Avoidance of car travel or restriction to alternative forms of transport
  • Inability to drive in poor weather conditions, or heavy traffic

If you are uncertain whether your client has Driving Phobia, our screening questionnaires can assist you, and our Clinical Psychologist will assess your client’s responses free of charge.


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