You might never have heard of it, but some people (very few – 1-3% of the population) suffer from “tunnel phobia”. Tunnel anxiety/”tunnel phobia” is a broad popular term for a feeling that varies from real phobia (e.g. irrational fears that can get motorists to avoid routes that include tunnels) to various degrees of discomfort by passing through a tunnel.
Also, a relatively large proportion of motorists feel uneasy and slightly insecure when driving in tunnels – especially long tunnels and tunnels under water. To cure this problem we have found it is important to design the tunnel according to certain principles (as seen on the picture below of the future Fehmarn tunnel).
It should be mentioned that high bridges also can cause strong anxieties for several car users. This probia has an official name and is called Gephyrophobia.
Some drivers also mistakenly believe that it is dangerous to drive in tunnels, even though it is factually safer to drive in the tunnel than outside. This is because there is no oncoming traffic, and no strong winds, snow, etc. Moreover, the long tunnels are always under constant surveillance.
The reason for a possible feeling of discomfort can probably be compared to the feeling of insecurity that many people might experience in parking basements, which are poorly maintained, dirty and with dark corners.
The Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, Virginia, USA, opened in 1964 pictured above – for comparison.
It is thus important to implement a design that eliminates the above discomforts, for instance by providing:
- Light and open appearance
- Satisfactory air quality
- High level of safety
- Ability to maintain good standard of cleanliness
- Remediation of monotony with art or creative lighting
- Distance Markers so you know how far you are on your journey
- Proper design of portal sites (entrances and exits)
- LED roadway lights
- High level of information in form of variable signs and loudspeakers
- Low noise level
The above picture portrays the creative lightning in the future Fehmarn tunnel.
The focus we have kept on maintaining and implementing an innovative design in the tunnel makes me confident that any “tunnel phobia” that motorists might have, will be close to nonexistent when entering the Fehmarn tunnel.
What are your opinions on this and do you know anyone who suffers from “tunnel phobia”?