Road Rage: It begins with you.

Report 2

Malia Blumhardt, Sheena Casaquit, and Jennifer Long

PSY 409a, Spring 2008, Generation 27

Dr. Leon James, Instructor

University of Hawaii

Class Home Page:


Lecture Notes


Caution! Venting is not good for your health

By, Malia Blumhardt


With anger, its important to acknowledge it before it gets out of hand. Dr. James had a great phrase, “ don’t express it or suppress it, confess it!”


The problem with expressing anger while driving is that it serves no rational purpose. It can only lead to physical, sensorimotor behavior. Expressing anger may give you a feeling of energy by increasing your adrenaline, but it can hurt yourself, body, and others.


Suppression is the result of being afraid to react. As a solution, it can only be beneficial momentarily. The reason it isn’t an ideal solution is that by not showing an emotion publicly, it will still bother you. So it’s important to address the emotion and where its coming from.

This leads us to the appropriate answer of confessing it! Realizing that being angry is irrational is very important. Your judgment as a driver can get very clouded. By confessing it, you become a better driver as well as understanding yourself in the long run. You make rational decisions that won’t endanger yourself or others.


The Mental Health of Drivers

By, Jennifer Long


When a driver self-evaluates himself or herself, they realize they are in a world of aggression and agitation.  Although one may lead a rational life, they may turn into road raging maniacs while driving.  People find themselves very focused in deep thought just trying to “win the race” of driving and/or to steer clear of other aggressive drivers.  The following is one’s self witnessing report including all the domains of the three-fold self,

"My affective behavior is scared, anxious, fearful, panic stricken, agitated, bothered, irritated, annoyed, angry, mad. I feel like yelling and hitting. My cognitive behavior is thinking, Oh, no what is he doing. What's happening. How could he do that. The guy was speeding. My sensorimotor behavior is that I hear myself saying out loud, S--t! Stupid guy! I'm breathing fast, gripping the wheel, perspiring, sitting up straight and slightly forward, my eyes are open and watching straight ahead (Lecture Notes)."

This shows how both the mind and body are affected during driving.  Feelings like these have come to be expected in everyday driving.  Some of these effects are extreme and short lived, while other feelings continue for a long period of time.  The following are often mentioned:


Extreme physiological reactions:  heart pounding, stopping breathing, muscle spasms, trembling, nausea, and upset stomach

Extreme emotional reactions:  outbursts of anger, yelling, aggressive gestures, mean looks, and fantasies of violence

Extreme irrational thought Sequence:  paranoia that one is being followed or inspected, script writing scenarios involving vengeance and cruelty against “guilty drivers, and denial of reality and defensiveness when a passenger complains of a driver's error (Lecture Notes)


Some people may look at these feelings as venting and how they are good for a person’s health.  It releases tension and anger out of the body.  However, these feelings are not good for a person’s health.  These feelings may cause a person danger and keeps them on-edge for long periods of time.  Physical reactions such as honking the horn or using obscene gestures also may be bad for a person’s health.  Other drivers may get extreme rage, which in some cases leads to death.




Driving Lessons

Chapter 7: Driving Identities over the Lifespan

By, Sheena Casaquit


Much has been done in an attempt to better improve the human activity of driving. From research to engineering, the fight is always on to enhance the safety of drivers. Regardless of how much thought is put into safety, there will always be consistent concern that there is no end to it, there will always be more that can be done. In Western culture, driving is a solo activity therefore; there is a main focus on the individual as the unit of analysis in terms of traffic safety. Individual driving behavior is often times difficult to improve because people have a hard time adjusting and conforming to rules and regulations. A shift in how researchers approach the task of driving, understanding individual drivers and understanding ways in which the individual driver can be influenced are essential in all aspects of road safety interventions.


Two theories that must be considered in relation to this shift include:


1)      Erikson’s model on driver identities and the range of psychological and social forces in the formation and maintenance of personal identity lays the foundation for driving identity.

2)      Moral conduct code provides new options for the development of effective interventions aimed at shifting driver behavior in more positive directions.


Being behind the wheel signifies freedom of individual choice. In our society drivers are viewed as purely autonomous beings, responsible for their goals and directions. Being a driver means being a part of a larger system in the driving world. A driver must not only consider themselves, but also passengers, other drivers, pedestrians and in due course society as a whole. All levels must collaborate in order for a journey that is safe and secure to occur.  In sum, although driving is usually correlated with individuality, a team effort is essential when it comes to safety and our driving environment.


It is natural to attribute another driver’s behavior to their personality. Driving behavior may be understood as identity issues. Depending on what stage in life a person is, their personality at the time reflects the way they drive. Independence and freedom may reflect a young driver who just obtains his or her license. Autonomy can be seen as an ongoing reminder of middle age drivers. Nevertheless, the car that we are seen driving is seen as a public statement. The social context of our surroundings influences and helps to understand driving behavior.


Erikson states that identity issues are at play at all points in the lifespan. Young adults are obsessed with autonomy. Adolescents anticipate the rite of passage into ‘adulthood’. The elderly struggle with the decision to hang up their keys and end their driving careers. This crisis identity model involves psychological drives to identify and establish a logical sense of personal identity. It not only entails psychological preferences but also social support and validation of potentially available identity options. Moral implications come along side the strain between psychological identity desires and social identity affordances. Certain obligations to fulfill role obligations and rules must now be considered when one identifies with a certain identity. This could be understood in terms of an honour code, a moral code that details which behaviors are to be exhibited in which situations to maintain status as a member of an identity group. It is a code that provides a novel and powerful way of understanding the relationship between driver identities and driver behaviors.


Road Safety for Young Children


This stage doesn’t involve much work in the search for identity. Rather children are concerned with doing things for themselves and later applying this knowledge to building basic skills and competencies. These activities set the foundation for identity development in their later years. Parents and teachers have an opportunity to influence a number of basic safety behaviors in children. We may benefit by tracing the roots of other safe-driving identities back to the competency-building years of early and middle childhood.


Young Novice Drivers: Forming Driving Identities


Young male novice drivers are centered on the identity of risky behavior. Recognizing this identity can enable us to see the honor code that promotes certain behavior patterns that this group is involved with. It is essential to promote the notion that driving is simply just driving and need not be considered to be a central part of one’s identity.


Middle-Aged Drivers: Maintaining Identity and Code Expectations


Re-establishing the identity and moral codes and highlighting the driving-pattern changes is the ideal avenue for driving safety interventions among adult drivers. Identities during this time period is not set in stone however, identity is of less obvious concern. Adults are more focused on day to day life and getting business done rather than worrying about their identity. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is an organization that focuses on lowering the level of implicit social acceptance of driving while drunk. Without changing any laws they were able to affirm the immorality or honor code-violating status on driving under the influence. The Australian Traffic Accident Commission (TAC) was successful in displaying advertisements that aim to show the relationship between day-to- day activities and showing the socio-moral consequences of their bad choices.


Driving Cessation among Elderly Drivers: Integrity versus Despair


This stage involves integrity versus despair. Erikson argues that the elderly review their identity projects in light of the effects they have had upon themselves and others. The elderly may feel they need to continue to drive for practical reasons since the automobile represents an ideally convenient form of transportation. Putting an end to their driving career or having one’s license or insurance removed translates to a loss of personal independence and may have a powerful impact on an older drivers’ identity. An Alzheimer’s patient can be helped coming to terms with hanging up their keys by enlisting the driver himself in research to develop a better understanding of how to help drivers stop driving rather than simply helping them let go.



Road Rage

Chapter 3

By, Sheena Casaquit


In 1996, drivers in the United States caused five million accidents, forty thousand deaths, and $150 billion in health and related costs. Regardless of strict laws and drivers education, aggressive driving continues to increase in frequency and seriousness. Emotional intelligence training is essential in the reduction of these numbers since current practices don’t seem to be working. The logic of assuming the worst and not having it actually happen is better than ignoring the worst and having it happen. According to a resource curriculum, this logic of defensive orientation could save possible collisions. This defensive attitude could also pose problems by anticipating an unwanted event and seeing other drivers as the enemy. An alternative model is known as “supportive driving,” which encourages anticipating behaviors of other drivers, accepting small errors, and trying to provide for errors.


Emotional control training is needed to help drivers manage “driver factors” such as inattention, risk taking, and conflict between highway users. A great deal of training is offered when faced with tailgaters and gap fillers. However, inner training is vital when dealing with habits of thinking and ranking the importance of things. An unpredictable mistake by one driver can easily be taken as an insult by another. Driver education and defensive driving often times promotes anticipating of mishaps on the roads and isn’t the most effective way to solving the escalating problem of aggressive driving. Defensive driving encourages competitive driving.


Stressful Congestion


Due to the lack of road available for the rising number of vehicles on the road, traffic congestion continues to be a universal problem. In the United States, the annual costs associated with traffic congestion are as followed:


  • One-hundred-billion-dollar loss in productivity
  • Two billion hours spent in traffic
  • Six billion gallons of extra gasoline
  • Two billion incidents of aggressive driving
  • Increase in air pollution
  • Increase in number of collisions, injuries, and fatalities
  • Discourages tourism and diminishes quality of life


Regardless of collisions occurring during traffic congestion, it continues to be a major source of frustration and anger and at the same time increasing stress.


Top 5 congested cities:

  1. Los Angeles
  2. Washington, D.C.
  3. Miami-Hialeah
  4. Chicago
  5. San Francisco-Oakland


The least congested cities:

  1. Bakersfield, Calif.
  2. Laredo, Tex.
  3. Colorado Springs, Col.
  4. Beaumont, Tex.
  5. Corpus Christi, Tex.


A variety of engineering approaches, including building more road space; slowing the growth of vehicle volume on the road with bus and carpool lanes and transit service; staggering the times that vehicles use the road with flex time and telecommuting techniques; more efficient traffic management with coordinated signals and incident management; and more land use alternatives that might reduce the need for vehicle travel indicate a wide range of solutions to traffic congestion.


Inevitable Unpredictability


Uncertainty is a factor in driving as with all human endeavors. Uncertainty is inevitable. As the number of cars increases and people drive for longer periods of time, this becomes more significant. Drivers become confronted with the many possibilities of facing unpredictability when traveling far distances and even more so when dealing with congestion on the road due to the increase in interaction between other drivers.


Peer Pressure


Constant and immediate cooperation is needed between strangers when it comes to driving. This cooperation requires drivers to be sensitive to others in order to predict their behaviors. Often times drivers face peer pressure of committing acts against their will in order to protect their image. Regardless of age, drivers need to be equipped with the inner tools to resist perceived peer pressure that increases risk and stress. Acquiring emotional intelligence can diminish the idea that since other people drive crazy, so can they. It can allow people to take responsibility for their actions and being open to change rather than simply justifying their bad behaviors. Giving in to peer pressure can result in unwanted citations and fines, so the safest route is to go with the flow of traffic.


Automotive Vigilantism


In the United States and Canada there are two types of drivers:


  1. “Tough-minded”- SUVs, sports cars, and light trucks
  2. “Soft”- family and economy cars and minivans


There is substantial and significant difference between these two groups in driving style and attitude. Tough-minded drivers confess to styles of aggressive driving, with an emphasis on younger drivers. Parents who demonstrated aggressive driving had a large influence on their children as drivers.


3 Levels of intensity in aggressive driving:

  1. Impatience
  2. Hostility
  3. Violence


Automotive vigilantism is the idea that drivers should punish or retaliate against other aggressive drivers. This delusional logic along with psychological and cultural dimensions is the root of aggressive driving. Aggression is neither lawful nor effective.


Trigger Theory of Road Rage


Negative emotions are difficult to manage no matter what driving expertise a person has. It is normal to believe that expressing anger is the right way to go because psychology holds the idea that releasing anger is healthy. Many drivers have a hard time holding back outburst once the let their emotions get the best of them. People justify aggression by fabricating an illogical sequence that serve as an excuse for risky behavior.


Engaging in aggressive driving behavior is a way of striving for control and imposing our will on others. As drivers we have the right to oppose aggressiveness brought on by other drivers rather than making the assumption that the action of another driver makes us hostile because it triggers our aggressive response. There is no automatic trigger mechanism between an insult and provocation, and this proves that people make the choice to retaliate.


We do not have the ability to change the bad behaviors of other drivers, but they have the power to create hazardous conditions that provoke us in doing things that are against our will. Aggression in any form is a way that helps us feel better about ourselves by releasing negative emotions. It is a mental state of learned aggressiveness justified by feeling contempt for other drivers.



By, Sheena Casaquit


Cara Lucey’s Survey


In generation 10, men and women scored nearly equal on matters on anger. In generation 7, email discussions about gender and driving indicate biasness in gender and assume that studies should be genderless. Women were perceived as sweet but can be aggressive. People with ethnic backgrounds, women, and older people were seen as not being capable of being aggressive. This idea proves that woman clearly suffer from stereotypes in society.


Women Truck Drivers


It is natural to believe that women suffer from discrimination by driving trucks. However, results indicate that not much discrimination takes place. In fact, truck driving is actually the only profession where both men and women are paid equally. Although many believe that pay is the greatest stress factor, unforeseen weather conditions and late night shifts prove to be of greater stress. Truck drivers are required to take courses on how to manage aggressive behavior on the road. Some negative aspects that come along with this profession are the need for safer truck stops and stress reduction classes that account for possible physical problems that may arise on the job. Most drivers indicate satisfaction with their job however, would not recommend it as a profession to others.


Exercise 4

By, Malia Blumhardt


a)      The team’s main goal was to educate the class on how to utilize scenario analysis and develop their critical thinking in order to become better drivers on the road.


b)      The instructions were to study and discuss the analysis of a driving situation described in the Lecture Notes at: Exercise: Scenario Analysis to Develop Critical Thinking. They were then to check out DrDriving’s collection of news stories on road rage at


After doing so, they were to select one that contained enough details to do a scenario analysis. After discussing the stories with their team, they were then to present their scenario to the class. Students were then asked to comment on their analysis to help further clarify the analyses. Ultimately, they were to inform the class on how scenario analysis could be used in driver education.


The team chose three articles to share:


1)“Road-rage driver terrorized family” by Steve Butcher

2) “Road rage killing leads to 40-year prison term” by David Doege

3)“Oh My God, I Can’t Believe I Shot Her” By Alan Sipress



They then took each of the three stories and acknowledged the driver’s actions that constituted as bad driving. For example with the first story, the group found thirteen bad driving behaviors. Some of them included: drinking while driving, driving on the wrong side of the road, and fishtailing.


From each example of bad driving, the group gave suggestions as to how the person could have avoided behaving carelessly. For example, by driving on the wrong side of the road, I could potentially cause a head-on collision, possibly even endangering others in the process.


In the end, the group came up with three reasons why scenario analysis could be used in driver education:


1)      It allows people to analyze their past driving

2)      By narrowing down road rage stories with scenario analysis, one could prevent their own bad driving behaviors.

3)      By reading these stories, people could strengthen their emotional intelligence and prevent bad driving habits.


c)      The overall presentation was really good. There were only some areas I felt could have needed added explanation. For instance, they could have made the stories more personal by describing how they related to their own lives or how those stories impacted them as drivers.


d)      The group was successful in many ways. For one, they followed the exercise directions to a tee in a clear manner. They also chose stories that grabbed our attention like “Oh my God, I can’t believe I shot her.”  Through scenario analysis, they taught us how to be critical thinkers and ultimately better drivers.


For me, the stories allow me to realize how a negative thought can lead to outrageous action. The stories also acknowledge there’s a huge problem with road rage being faced in the United States as well as globally.


e)      The instructions for doing this exercise needed to be more concise. Overall, they were articulated very well. If I had to change them, I would have been more specific about how many articles the group should have researched. Possibly, I would have even had a link to three or four specific articles I felt would have the most impact.


f)        The limitation with this type of exercise is repetition. When coming up with suggestions on how the bad drivers could have “backed out” of each situation, I felt that it could easily suffice to say, “don’t do it”. An example was drunk driving. Suggestion on how to avoid it, “don’t do it.”



g)      After doing the exercise steps, I clearly understood what was required for this exercise. The stories reveal how critical it’s becoming for drivers to understand how to regulate their emotions. By reading road rage stories, and recognizing the challenge behaviors, I think more people would develop a greater emotional intelligence.


Section 4


1. Road Rage Statistics: How to Avoid Rage and Stay Safe

This article offers road rage statistics as well as advice on avoiding aggressive driving and aggressive drivers. For instance, one piece of advice is “ don’t make obscene gestures. Avoid any visible sign that you may be angry.”


2. “The Phenomenon of Road Rage: Complexities, Discrepancies, and Opportunities for CR Analysis” By, K. Michelle Scott

This article focuses on the author’s research on road rage and its affects. Scott attempts to define, quantify, explain, and remedy the road rage phenomenon. She presents a conflict resolution framework for her analysis.


3. The ARC Network

“Accident Reconstruction Network”

This website offers advice for diffusing and avoiding road rage.  It also gives links to other websites that address aggressive driving, as well as the research being done on it.


4. Personality factors as predictors of persistent risky driving behavior and crash involvement among young adults

This is a study that examined the relationship between personality factors assessed during adolescence and persistent risky driving behavior and traffic crash involvement among young adults. The main outcome measures were persistent risky driving behaviors and crash involvement. These results suggest that road-safety interventions seeking to deter young adult males from persistent risky driving behavior need to be directed at those who do not endorse traditional views, are aggressive, and feel alienated from the rest of society.


5. Driving style as a reflection of cultural personality traits

I found this to be a great read! This is a journal article of a woman who speaks her mind on the relationship (if any) on culture and driving style. She focuses on driving style while comparing styles between the U.S. and Canada. Her main point was listing all the reasons she wants to move to Canada and to rant about against the U.S. She has spent most of her driving years in Canada and came to a realization that Canadians are much more polite. She believes that American drivers are rude and self-centered.


6. Women truck drivers

Most people associate the term truck driver with men, but more and more women are finding this is an enjoyable career choice for them. Some of them are team drivers with another woman or their spouse. Others enjoy being out on the open road with their pets or by themselves. This article goes into specific issues that have been associated with the issues that women face as truck drivers.


7. Miami drivers have the worst road rage

This article discusses cities with the most and least road rage, obviously focusing on Miami as the worst city for road rage.  It accredits this rage to everyone always being in a hurry.  It also goes on to talk about relieving a little road rage so a person does not get caught up in the rat-race.


8. Readers Rage on Over Offenses on the Road

This article gives personal stories from both those who experience road-rage in the present, those who have matured and no longer act on road rage, and finally those who have methods of avoiding road rage.  Many people will sing to their radio in order to alleviate the stress of driving, the most original was the man who carried bubble wrap along in the car so he could pop the bubbles if he was feeling angry. 


9. Road Rage can Churn the Calmest of Hearts

This article gives one man’s Jekyll and Hyde story.  Although he worked for the transit system and always encouraged safe driving, he found him self engulfed in the world of road rage for over year.  After finding his daughter’s toy gun in the car one day he started “shooting” cars that would cut him off or interrupt his driving in anyway.  He enjoyed the satisfaction it gave him.  The article finishes up with helpful hints on how to avoid experiencing road rage.


10. “Road Rage” gets a Medical Diagnosis

Although I do not really agree with this article, it talks about how doctors have now given the medical name of “Intermittent explosive disorder.”  It says it is a biological disorder usually setting in by the time a person is fourteen.  Symptoms include multiple outbursts and other symptoms related with road rage.  It is assumed five to seven percent of the nationally representative sample experiences this disease.