Special Report

This Is Why People Are Scared to Drive Their Cars

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An estimated 31,720 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes from January through September 2021, according to The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That was up 12% from the year before and was the highest level for the comparable period since 2006.

Most drivers don’t don’t necessarily think of the danger when they get behind the wheel, but for nearly all drivers, there are some driving situations that can be scary. The no. 1 reason people are scared to drive their cars is weather condition, particularly driving in snow. (These are places with the biggest snowfall in history in every state.)

One reason for the recent increase in traffic fatalities may be simply that vehicle miles driven in the United States from January through September 2021 rose 11.7% to 244 billion from the period the year before. However, other causes have not changed in recent years. 

Among the most preventable causes of traffic fatalities are drunk driving and distracted driving, which includes talking on the phone and texting. Other reasons include road and vehicle safety. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg commented on the results: “This is a national crisis. We cannot and must not accept these deaths as an inevitable part of everyday life.”

New research shows that what kills and injures people when they drive may be different from what scares them. Bill Plant Driving School used search data from Google Ads Keyword Planner made between November 2020 and October 2021 to find the reasons for driving anxiety. 

“Looking at the number of Google searches for driving anxiety since 2017, we can see that the number of people suffering from driving worries has definitely been on the rise, increasing from 4,400 searches a month in November 2017, to 8,100 today, an increase of 84%,” the report, “Driving Anxiety – How to Overcome Nerves on the Road,” notes.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed the report to find the reasons why people are scared to drive their cars. The most common search term was “driving in the snow” at 112,900 searches. “Driving in the rain” was a distant second. (These are the safest cities for driving.)

These are the 20 most common reasons people are scared to drive

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20. Anxiety about merging on highway
> Search volume total: 150

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19. Changing lanes anxiety
> Search volume total: 420

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18. Sudden anxiety while driving
> Search volume total: 470

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17. Fear of getting lost while driving
> Search volume total: 630

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16. Driving anxiety after accident
> Search volume total: 960

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15. Anxiety driving long distances
> Search volume total: 1,000

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14. Anxiety driving at night
> Search volume total: 1,140

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13. Traffic anxiety
> Search volume total: 1,540

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12. Vertigo while driving over bridges
> Search volume total: 1,800

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11. Parking anxiety
> Search volume total: 1,920

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10. Fear of driving alone
> Search volume total: 2,130

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9. Anxiety about driving in unfamiliar places
> Search volume total: 2,950

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8. Driving lesson anxiety
> Search volume total: 3,680

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7. Driving in wind
> Search volume total: 3,700

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6. Driving test anxiety
> Search volume total: 4,760

Source: dcoetzee / Flickr

5. Fear of driving over bridges
> Search volume total: 5,170

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4. Fear of driving on highway
> Search volume total: 9,420

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3. Panic attack while driving
> Search volume total: 19,800

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2. Driving in rain
> Search volume total: 59,200

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1. Driving in snow
> Search volume total: 112,900

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