What is Amaxophobia? 

Amaxophobia is the fear of riding in cars. It is an irrational fear that can be caused by a traumatic experience, such as being in a car accident. People with amaxophobia may avoid driving or riding in cars at all costs. Some may not even be able to ride in a car because of the fear. Amaxophobia can also be caused by a traumatic experience involving riding in a car, such as being in an accident or witnessing one. 

Amaxophobia is also called:

  1. Hamaxophobia
  2. Motorphobia
  3. Ochophobia

People who have amaxophobia have a fear of driving or being a passenger in a car or other vehicle. Someone with amaxophobia may have such extreme anxiety or fear at the thought of being in a vehicle that they’re unable to get to work, stores and other places.

“Amaxa” (or “hamaxa”) is the Greek word for carriage. Phobia means fear. Someone with a fear of driving or riding in a vehicle is amaxophobic.

How common is amaxophobia?

It’s hard to know exactly how many people have a specific phobia, like amaxophobia. Many people may keep this fear to themselves or may not recognize they have it. About 1 in 10 American adults and 1 in 5 teenagers will deal with a specific phobia disorder at some point in their lives.

What is a phobia?

Phobias are a type of anxiety disorder. They cause an extreme fearful reaction to something that isn’t actually harmful.

Amaxophobia is a specific phobic disorder. A specific object (a vehicle) or situation (driving or riding in a vehicle) brings on a fearful response.

What are the types of amaxophobia?

Someone with amaxophobia may be:

  1. OK driving but can’t handle having someone else behind the wheel.
  2. Able to ride in a vehicle, but only with someone they trust, like a spouse.
  3. Unable to be a passenger in a vehicle regardless of who’s driving.
  4. Fine taking public transportation as long as the route stays the same.
  5. Unable to look at a vehicle or think about getting into a vehicle without feeling panic.

What does a person suffering from amaxophobia fear?

A person with amaxophobia is afraid of getting injured or killed in a motor vehicle accident. They don’t necessarily have a fear of driving or being a passenger. They may fixate on statistics about car accidents or plane crashes

Who is at risk for amaxophobia?

You’re more likely to develop amaxophobia or a different type of specific phobic disorder if you already have:

  1. Another phobia
  2. Anxiety disorder
  3. Panic disorder
  4. Substance use disorder

What other phobias are associated with amaxophobia?

Two phobias closely linked to amaxophobia include:

  1. Agoraphobia, a fear of leaving one’s home or being unable to escape from a place or situation.
  2. Claustrophobia, a fear of enclosed spaces.


What might trigger Amaxophobia? 

Amaxophobia is the fear of riding in cars. It’s not a very common phobia, but it does exist. There are many possible causes of amaxophobia. One cause could be a traumatic experience while riding in a car. For example, if someone was in a car accident, they might develop amaxophobia as a result. Another possible cause could be a fear of heights. If someone is afraid of being in high places, they might also be afraid of being in cars, since they are both high up off the ground. 

What are further causes of amaxophobia?

Potential amaxophobia causes include:

Past traumatic experience 

People who have been injured in car accidents or stuck on an unmoving subway train or another vehicle may develop amaxophobia. You are also at risk if a loved one is seriously injured or dies in a vehicle accident or you witness an accident. In these instances, there may be a link between amaxophobia and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

  1. Family history

Having a parent or close relative with a phobic disorder or anxiety disorder increases your risk. A gene mutation (change) may make you more anxious than others.


Observing someone with amaxophobia or hearing a person talk about their fear of driving can cause you to have the same phobia.

Factors responsible for Amaxophobia

There are a number of factors that may play a role in the development of specific phobias such as amaxophobia. Some of these factors can include:

Genetics and family history

Research suggests that having a close family member who has a phobia or other type of anxiety disorder increases a person’s risk of also developing a phobia.

Observation and modeling 

Hearing stories about car accidents, observing others with similar phobias, and other influences can also contribute to the development of a specific phobia.


Traumatic experiences can also play a part in the development of a phobia such as amaxophobia. Research suggests that traffic accidents are the most common causes of amaxophobia.

This fear could also be related to agoraphobia, a fear of being in a place or situation you can’t escape in the event of developing panic or other incapacitating symptoms, or claustrophobia, the fear of being trapped in an enclosed space.

It is also common for specific phobias such as amaxophobia to co-occur alongside other anxiety disorders including other phobias, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and substance use disorder.


While there is no official distinction between different types of amaxophobia, this condition may present in two ways:

Fear of driving 

For some people with this condition, their fear primarily centers on anxiety about getting behind the wheel of a car.

Fear of being a passenger 

For others, symptoms emerge in response to being a passenger in some type of vehicle.

Some people with amaxophobia are still able to drive their own cars. The prospect of allowing someone else to take control of the trip, however, can be terrifying. For others, driving itself is the trigger. And still others may experience amaxophobia in both conditions (as driver and passenger).

What are amaxophobia triggers?

Any type of vehicle — cars, trains, subways, buses, boats or planes — may bring on amaxophobia.

Amaxophobia triggers include:

  1. Driving a vehicle
  2. Riding in a vehicle
  3. Imagining yourself inside a vehicle
  4. Seeing a vehicle in person or on TV

What are amaxophobia symptoms?

Amaxophobia symptoms can range from mild to extreme. They include:

  1. Chills
  2. Dizziness and lightheadedness
  3. Excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis)
  4. Heart palpitations
  5. Nausea
  6. Shortness of breath (dyspnea)
  7. Trembling or shaking
  8. Upset stomach or indigestion (dyspepsia)

How is amaxophobia diagnosed?

If amaxophobia disrupts your life, your healthcare provider may recommend seeing a mental health professional like a psychologist. The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) doesn’t recognize amaxophobia as a phobic disorder. But a psychologist may make a diagnosis after evaluating your symptoms.

You may have a specific phobic disorder if the fear:

  1. Occurs when you are in or near a vehicle
  2. Causes you to miss out on work, social events and life
  3. Affects your ability to enjoy life
  4. Brings on symptoms of fear or anxiety that don’t match the actual danger
  5. Lasts at least six months


How can Amaxophobia be treated? 

Amaxophobia is the fear of riding in cars. This specific phobia can be quite debilitating for those that suffer from it as it can keep them from going about their everyday life. While there is no one-size-fits-all cure for amaxophobia, there are a variety of treatments that have been shown to be effective for some people. Some common treatments include therapy, exposure therapy, and medication. 

Exposure therapy 

Exposure therapy with a mental health professional helps many people overcome amaxophobia. As many as 9 in 10 people with specific phobias see symptom improvements after getting this type of psychotherapy (talk therapy). Exposure therapy involves steady exposures to images or situations that trigger symptoms.

During exposure therapy, you:

  1. Learn breathing and relaxation techniques to use before and during exposure.
  2. View images or videos of situations involving vehicles.
  3. Gradually progress to sitting behind the wheel or in the passenger seat of an unmoving vehicle.
  4. Drive or sit in the passenger seat of a vehicle that travels a short distance, like through an empty parking lot.

What are other amaxophobia solutions?

Other techniques to overcome amaxophobia include:

Virtual reality exposure therapy

One small study found that virtual reality exposure therapy can help people overcome a fear of driving or being a passenger. Virtual reality technology makes it feel as if you’re physically inside a vehicle.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) 

Many providers use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) along with exposure therapy. CBT teaches you how to change the way you perceive and respond to situations that trigger symptoms.


Anti-anxiety drugs may be helpful if you’re worried about having symptoms during an upcoming trip in a car, plane or another vehicle.

Tips for overcoming Amaxophobia 

What can be done to lessen the fear? 

Amaxophobia is the fear of riding in cars. This fear can be so debilitating that it can keep someone from traveling or even leaving their home. While there is no one cure for amaxophobia, there are a few things that can be done to lessen the fear. 

  • First, try to understand why you are afraid. Is it a specific situation that you are worried about, such as a car accident? Or is it something more general, like the feeling of being enclosed in a small space? 
  • Once you have identified the root of your fear, you can begin to work on addressing it. One way to do this is by gradually exposing yourself to situations that scare you. 
  • For example, if you are afraid of car accidents, start by watching videos of them online. Then, move on to watching accidents happen live on TV. 


The list of possible consequences of amaxophobia is long and includes a wide variety of repercussions for your career and personal life. Examples of how this phobia may affect your ability to cope include:

  1. You might limit your earning potential because you can only apply for jobs within walking distance of your home.
  2. You might be left out of excursions with friends and family, which can lead to feelings of rejection and isolation.
  3. You may find it difficult to make social connections with other people because you are unable to travel by vehicle.
  4. Like many specific phobias, the impact of amaxophobia depends largely on context. If you live in a self-contained walkable neighborhood, like parts of New York City, even a severe case of amaxophobia may not greatly affect your life. Everything you need is nearby or you can order it online.
  5. If you live in a rural area or a sprawling city, where even picking up groceries requires a long car ride, a mild case of amaxophobia may be devastating.
  6. Phobias and other anxiety disorders often grow worse over time if left untreated, so it is important to seek help as early as possible.

What are the complications of amaxophobia?

  1. Severe amaxophobia can affect your quality of life. You may struggle to get to work, shop or attend social events. It can be difficult, sometimes impossible, to travel to see family, friends or go on vacation.
  2. Some people experience panic attacks, which cause non-cardiac chest pain, racing heart rate and symptoms like a heart attack. Persistent worries about having panic attacks can lead to a panic disorder that requires the long-term use of anti-anxiety medications.

What is the prognosis for Amaxophobia? 

Amaxophobia is the fear of riding in cars. Many people who suffer from this phobia avoid car travel at all costs. For some, this may mean walking or biking long distances instead of taking a car. For others, it may mean finding an alternative form of transportation, such as taking the bus or train. And for still others, it may mean staying home altogether. 

Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to overcoming amaxophobia. Some people find that gradual exposure therapy helps them overcome their fear of cars. Others find that therapy and medication work best for them. And still others find that self-help techniques, such as deep breathing and visualization exercises, work best for them. 

How can you help someone with Amaxophobia? 

If you know someone who is struggling with Amaxophobia, there are ways that you can help. First, try to understand what they are feeling and why they are afraid. phobia can be caused by a traumatic experience, so simply talking to them about their fear may help. If they are willing, you can also accompany them when they have to do something that triggers their fear. This could be anything from going on a car ride to flying on a plane. In some cases, therapy may be recommended in order to help the person overcome their fear.

When should you call the doctor?

You should call your healthcare provider if you experience:

  1. Panic attacks
  2. Persistent anxiety that interferes with daily life or sleeping

What questions should you ask your doctor?

You may want to ask your healthcare provider:

  1. What is causing this phobia?
  2. What is the best treatment for me?
  3. Should I try exposure therapy?
  4. How long will I need therapy?
  5. Should I watch for signs of complications?


While amaxophobia can take a serious toll on your life, effective treatments are available that can help bring relief. If you are experiencing symptoms of this condition that are impacting your life, you should contact a mental health professional.


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