Meet the Woman With a Phobia of Driving Through Tunnels

By Inside Edition Staff
Copyright (c) 2018 CBS Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Driving through a tunnel is no big deal for most people.

But for Heather Steinmiller, it feels like the walls are closing in. She suffers from a fear of going through tunnels, a form of claustrophobia. 

Now though, she's facing that fear with the help of driving instructor Gabe Aviles, taking a ride with him through the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnels in Virginia, a 3.5-mile route that includes a tunnel some call the scariest in America

The path is incredibly narrow and for someone like Steinmiller, it's sheer torture. She told Inside Edition she hasn't been able to drive through the tunnel herself for two decades, explaining that she feels like she's going to be pushed into a wall.

With Aviles, she managed to sit through three minutes of total fear before finally there was, well, light at the end of the tunnel.

Steinmiller is not alone in her fear of tunnels. Aviles told Inside Edition he has plenty of students who are are apprehensive about entering the tight spaces. 

He has a key tip for them that he shared with Inside Edition, however: saying a checklist out loud. Check your speed, check your mirrors, do anything to take your mind off the journey. If you're thinking about that, he said, then you're not thinking about the walls closing in on you. 

And after her journey with Aviles, Steinmiller is feeling like she might be able to conquer her phobia after all. 

"It kinda has me thinking that there's hope for me," she said.

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Copyright (c) 2018 CBS Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.