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 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, characteristics of the road, type of car, if they are driving alone or with company, where the patient is driving through, etc.
Virtual Reality has been proved to be a good alternative to traditional exposure techniques in the treatment of driving phobia. This technology is especially useful in repeating the exposure as many times as necessary in order to recreate the unpredictable circumstances that occur in the real situation. Moreover, VR naturally eliminates the chances of suffering an accident and the therapist has total standardization and control over the exposure session parameters.