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Hit and Run

Hit and Run OCD taps into uncertainty related to causing harm to others as well as responsibility, both themes common in many subtypes of OCD. Imagine you are driving on a street near your house when you feel a slight bump as you turn the corner. Immediately, doubt appears resulting in an intrusive thought - maybe I just hit someone back there - and the cycle of OCD begins. In this scenario, you may turn back to look at the scene or park, get out and look at the ground for signs of hitting someone with your car. The doubt persists even though logic says no incident took place. Certainty can be illusive. And anxiety can be persistent. 


  • questioning whether you hit someone while driving

  • wondering what each bump, sound, flash or screech was and using it as potential evidence something bad happened

  • thinking through whether you would be arrested for leaving the scene if you keep driving after having an intrusive thought about something bad happening on the road

  • distressing thoughts occurring after noticing you were momentarily inattentive while driving


  • avoidance of driving altogether

  • avoidance of busy areas or poorly lit roads to reduce the risk of a driving incident

  • only driving during the daytime

  • driving alone or without the radio on in order to avoid all distractions

  • driving around the block to check the area for signs of an incident

  • constantly checking the rearview mirror

  • reading the next day's newspaper for a report of a driving incident

  • detailed inspection of your car for signs of a collision

  • mental review of a time driving to check for signs of an incident

  • leaving a note on another driver's parked car in case you caused damage

The Problem with Seeking Certainty

Your eyes and ears may have been fully present during a driving outing but when OCD is triggered, these factual data points become unreliable when questioned. Doubt over your own attentiveness, compliance with driving safety rules, and what you believe you saw and heard become intense and persistent leading you to turn back literally or metaphorically to check. An incident is clearly visible but no incident means there is nothing in plain sight to uncover. Therefore, the obsession cannot be ruled out completely. The distress and anxiety persist while your efforts to be sure yield no comfort or relief. Unless you reduce your driving significantly or eliminate it altogether, you will undoubtedly find yourself triggered again and again.

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