End the Rage

Report 5

By: Chad Honda, Malia Blumhardt and Alicia Raatz

PSY 409a, Spring 2008, Generation 27

Dr. Leon James, Instructor, University of Hawaii
Class Home Page




Section 1: Lecture Content


Lecture Notes are from Chapter 8 in Road Rage & Aggressive Driving by Dr. Leon James and Dr. Diane Nahl and Chapter 13 of Driving Lessons by Jorge Frascara


Cultural Values and Society


In the Driving Lessons book, chapter 13, there is an analysis of what it would take to change cultural values.  The media messages are not good enough to change the value of driving.  This is particular true for practices of driving that societies engage in and the style and thinking (the Threefold Self) of the driver.  There are three levels of the Threefold Self that is characterized by its content and they are:


At the bottom, is driving (aggressive) level.  Where in order to change we need to understand why most drivers are aggressive drivers.


Second level, defensive driving is not supposed to be aggressive but is supposed to be predictive of other drivers that are making mistakes and what those consequences are for other drivers.

 Last level, supportive driving, which is also known as altruistic driving, is where we need a positive attitude toward culture


Cultural Attitudes


The cultural attitude, attitudes that is socialized during childhood, is learned as you grow up. For example, anger in a relationship to parents is regulated with cultural practices and has a cross-cultural presence.  The cognitive and socialization is also affected which we need to have to be able to think.


 How to be a more supportive driver


On page 208 of Driving Lessons, the author Jorge Fransca, recommends a communication campaign strategy to reduce risk on the road and to be a more supportive driver.  They are:


On Risk: to reduce the social value of risk-taking and to teach risk-perception and risk-reduction skills

On Perception of Reality: to increase road users’ ability to assess their driving skills properly, the car’s ability to maneuver and the severity of the risk faced.  During Dr. James lecture he mentioned that it’s a good idea to educate drivers on their skills and what can happen when you lower you abilities to drive properly and/or to maneuver you car.


On Personal Value vs. The Value of Things: persuading people to value themselves independently from their car and their driving style.  An example of this is how people act when driving certain kind of cars.  If a person has a Benz then they will think they “own” the roads and can just cut in and out, merge right in front of you, etc. because of the type of car they drive which in this case is a Benz which is known for “rich” people cars thinking they can do whatever they want since they have money.

On the Value of Responsibility: to promote the ideas that driving is a responsible act and that responsible driving has a high social value.  An example, when driving and we want to switch lanes it is known for the other driver to leave space in order for us to move into that lane.  But of course, we are responsible for the things we do on the road and if the other driver does not give room to move into the lane and we cut into that lane anyway we are responsible for our actions and also responsible for the other driver’s safety as well.


On Competition vs. Cooperation: to discourage competitiveness and aggressiveness in driving and to encourage cooperation toward a better traffic flow

On the Emotional Component of Driving: to reduce the emotional involvement that dangerous drivers invest in driving.  We know that they are drivers out there who just get your “goat” and therefore you emotions can run high but we can’t take things personally while driving.  If we do take things personally and get all emotional about it, then we are only making driving more dangerous.

Section 2: Team Presentations on Readings

By: Alicia Raatz


Road Rage   Chapter 8: Supportive Driving  Pages: 167-189    Authors: Dr. Leon James and Diane Nahl


The first part of the reading group talked about the book Road Rage Chapter 8.  Supportive driving is an accommodating style that emphasizes adjusting to the great diversity of highway users and steering clear of the emotional entrapments of road rage thinking. Not all drivers can be treated alike. Supportive drivers must accommodate them by accepting the reality of unfamiliar drivers and adjusting their driving to suit the situation. Less experienced drivers make more mistakes and can be less predictable.


Recognizing and accepting a diversity of drivers and styles is adaptive as well as supportive. There are many different types of diversity such as local drivers versus visitors, large vehicles versus smaller ones, healthy drivers versus ill, in pain, or emotional upset drivers and young drivers with excellent vision and quick reflexes versus those who are older, slower, and less capable.


Drivers must constantly keep track of each other in order to avoid collisions. In the late 1980’s, The National Motorists Association proposed seven new motorist signals:


·         Apology: two fingers in the V position with the palm out

·         Slow down, danger ahead: turning your headlights on and off

·         Lane courtesy: turn left directional light on and off 4 to 6 times

·         Pull over for problem: point in the direction of problem, then signal “thumbs down”

·         Light problem (Check your lights): open and close your hand touching your thumb and fingers together.

·         Need assistance: make the sign of a “T” with your hand on top of each other

·         I understand (Thank you):  “thumbs up” or “OK”


Supportive driving focuses on facilitating other drivers’ efforts to accomplish what they want instead of competing against them. If you adopt and practice a supporting driving lifestyle you’re protected from the road rage of other drivers because you’re committed to putting up the least sail in their angry wind. Rage doesn’t build up when the drivers refuses to justify it.


There are three philosophies that determine how people drive:


·         Level one: Oppositional driving philosophy involves:

o   An aggressive and hostile style (“Don’t mess with me!”)

o   Feeling alienated (“It’s everybody for themselves!”)

·         Level two: Defensive driving philosophy involves:

o   Treating all drivers the same (“You must always be wary and suspicious”) 

o   Maintaining a competitive attitude (“It’s me against them”)

·         Level three: Supportive driving philosophy involves:

o   A supportive attitude toward other drivers (“ everybody makes mistakes sometimes”)

o   Tolerance of pluralism (“everybody has to drive and I support democratic motoring”)


Most people have never even thought about their driving “philosophy.” People just don’t like to admit that there might be something very wrong with our driving; it’s always the other drivers who need to change their attitude and behavior.  Dr. Leon recommends switching roles whenever possible, alternating between being the driver and the driving partner. By repeating the cycle several times or making it into a regular practice, you obtain experience that builds emotional intelligence.  Researches show that several weeks later the social influence of the partnership driving team began to have an effect on this driver.


Book: Driving Lessons   Chapter 13 Revisiting Communications and Traffic Safety    Pages:  193-210   Author: Jorge Frascara


The second part of the reading was from Driving Lessons Chapter 13.  Motor-Vehicle accidents are major health and safety problem. In the last decade, 51,300 people died in road crashes in Canada; another 2,342,300 were injured, man of them permanently disabled. Vehicle crashes are now the leading cause of death to people under the age of 45 and a major cause of injury.  This chapter proposes to reduce the problem through the development of a cost-effective communication campaign that targets specific groups so as to be more effective than generic campaigns. In order to confront this problem, the campaign must be conceived of as a cluster or promotions addressed to different groups recognized as over-presented in the collision statistics. 


There was a research done in Australia on traffic safety.   Two things were shown, communication was not all important and enforcement supported the change.  Behaviors changed, but when the media budget was spent the rate of traffic fatalities went up immediately, suggesting that attitude had remained essentially untouched. 


Many other aspects can change the behaviors and attitudes of the drivers such as:


·         Language, culture and the car

·         Driving as communication

·         Understanding and acting


Some questions that can be proposed are:


·         How can we constantly increase the circle of partnership involved in the process?

·         What are the specific actions that will promote a revision of driving, materialize that revision and establish new cultural paradigms?

·         How can we recognize leaders, followers and our potentially most supportive     partners?


Some recommendations for communication campaign strategies are:


·         On risk: reduce the social value of risk-taking

·         On perception of reality: increase road users ability to assess their driving properly

·         On personal value vs. the value of things:  persuade people to value themselves independently from their car

·         On the value of responsibility:  promote the ideas that driving is a responsible act

·         On competition vs. cooperation: discourage competitiveness and aggression in driving

·         On the emotional component of driving:  reduce the emotional involvement that dangerous drivers invest in driving


Article 10 (a): The Theory of Risk Homeostasis


The last part of the readings was Article 10, the Theory of Risk Homeostasis.  A homeostatic engineering device is modeled after processes that naturally occur in living organisms, and any engineered device is likely to be much less complex, less resourceful and adaptive. Living organisms learn from past experience, so they never behave in exactly the same way from one point in time to another.  When the expected benefits of risky behavior are high and the expected costs are perceived, as relatively low, the target level of risk will be high.


The target level of accident risk is determined by four categories of motivating factors:


·         The expected advantages of comparatively risky behavior alternatives

·         The expected costs of comparatively risky behavior alternatives

·         The expected benefits of comparatively safe behavior alternatives

·         The expected costs of comparatively safe behavior alternatives


The level of traffic accident risk that is perceived by the individual person at any moment of time derives from three sources: the person's past experience with traffic, the person's assessment of the accident potential of the immediate situation, and the degree of confidence the person has in possessing the necessary decision-making and vehicle-handling skill to cope with the situation.  Road users consistently monitor the perceived amount of accident risk, compare this with their target level, and attempt to reduce and difference, be it positive or negative, between the two. 


Any action that is performed after the choice has been made carries an objective likelihood of accident risk, be it greater or smaller.  The sum total of all the performed actions, along with the objective risk of each of them, determines the traffic accidental loss.  There are three types of skill that have an effect on the level of risk perceived and the action performed: perceptual skills, decision-making skills and vehicle-handling skills.


Article 10 (b) The Social Psychology of Driving


The second part of article 10 was The Social Psychology of Driving.  It was a website about conformity.  She talked about how you are what you drive.  Whatever kind of vehicle you drive represents how you are as a driver.  To successfully and safely reach one's life destinations you need the ability to successfully predict the behaviors of others at least partly and control those directed behaviors toward one's self.  A person with the internalized moralities: would say "I never exceed 55 miles per hour because that's not right and because there is an energy crisis."


With conformity, you can predict the behaviors of oneself, and others.  The rules and norms of the road assist in predictive abilities on the road.  There are two different types of driver identities, the independent identity and the social identity.  There are also two different types of driver, the one with personality and the Good Samaritan. This concept has intrigued many scientists to do more research on the topic.


Section 3: Team Presentations on Exercises
By: Chad Honda


 a) and b)

 The main ideas presented by the team were to analyze YouTube videos that dealt with aggressive driving, driving in traffic, etc. in different countries.  It was to compare the difference in driving from here to other countries.


 The first video showed was in India where people just drove whenever and  wherever they wanted to.  No one took into account other people’s safety but in India they don’t have traffic laws.  Overall, the comments posted by viewers of these YouTube videos said “no road rage” and “good driving.”  The presenter mentioned that even though driving in India is worse than in the U.S., India’s accident rates were no higher than the U.S.  Also, there was no presence of road rage or aggression present during the video.  Dr. James mentioned that road rage and aggressive driving is formed culturally and socially.  Driving is formed differently in different parts of the world as the video from India showed. 


The next part of the presentation was to find YouTube videos on street bike cursing, bad driving stunts, staged and real car crashes and similar videos. The ones they presented where also interesting and disturbing.  One of the videos showed a motorcycle going over 160mph on a regular road, not a freeway or anything, and then on the freeway was going even faster.  What was interesting is that the YouTube viewers commented on the videos saying they love to watch these kinds of videos and also these crashes weren’t bad at all or that driver of that car made it happen to themselves. In today’s society, we tend to view these kind of videos as a form of entertainment rather than trying to reduce road rage and aggressive driving on our streets, roads, freeways, etc.   


(c)    The way that they presented the videos was good.  They first started with what the video was going to show and then gave their opinions on it.  But the presenters could have spent a little time on their own opinions about the video and relate what was shown in the video to the content of the course.


(d)    The success on the approach they used for doing this presentation was the explain the video and let the class know what they are about to see, show the video and let others gather their own opinions and/or interpretations about it and then finally give their own opinions about it. 


(e)    The instructions and procedures for this exercise are pretty straightforward and clear.  This time it gave accurate instructions on what is wanted from this exercise.


(f)    Limitations on this type of exercise I don’t think there is any.  It is good to know and see how other drivers in other countries are driving and if they are having less road rage and aggressive driving maybe it’s something we (U.S.) needs to look at for our roadways.


(g)The first words that came out of my mouth when I watched the first couple of videos was “holly……”  I guess that already explains what happened.  I was totally shocked that other countries drive like that with no care of anything for others.  It seemed that the more videos I watched each one seemed to get worse than the previous one.


 Section 4: Annotated Web Links
By: Chad Honda, Malia Blumhardt and Alicia Raatz


1.  BadDriving.com

a. This website gives a lot of videos on bad driving, what happens when people drive badly, blogs, forums, etc. on all aspects of bad driving.

2. Next Gaming Scapegoat: Bad Driving

a. Site for gamers and it talks about how people who play games are more aggressive drivers and basically blaming these types of people who are driving badly and causing problems on the road.  Can also blame the creators of these types of games, who are aggressive drivers themselves, and then creating more aggressive drivers from those who play these games.

3. Driving India Crazy

a. “Heavy traffic, poor infrastructure and absence of a road culture bring out the worst in drive.  A zip through metros…”  Is a good way to put driving in India as we seen from the video?  The article goes on into more detail about the driving in India and how people just don’t care.

4. Quality Driving Circles (QDCs) and Lifelong Driver Education

a. Dr. James goes into depth about what QDCs are and how exactly they work. This site provides helpful information that may lead you to joining a QDC. Ultimately, this information should encourage you to want to take action and develop better driving behaviors.

5. The Role of Personality Characteristics in Young Adult Driving

a. This journal article relates to the driving norms section discussed in the lecture notes. The driving of young adults in linked closely to the non-driving lifestyles and behaviors of the young adult. The research indicates change in personality is necessary when trying to change driving personality

6. Watching Car Crashes

a. This website shows actual car crashes.  It shows what can happen if you are not careful on the road and if you are an aggressive driver yourself.

7. Statistics and facts of media violence

a. This website lists different facts and statistics but it also gives links to other articles that are related to the topics.  It talks about the game Grand Theft Auto III.  This is a violent game that promotes aggressive driving and overall violence.

8. Driving Tips

a. This website provides various tips and suggestions provided by driving experts from around the world.  This site is interesting because it offers suggestions from many different places indicating that aggressive driving is a worldwide problem, not just in the United States.  All are great tips that may help someone become a better, supportive driver on the roadways.

9. Penalties for Driving Drunk

a. There are many drivers out there are drive without knowing what they are doing.  They are unaware of the risk they are putting on other drivers, passengers, etc.  This site talks about the penalties about drunk driving

10.         Facts about Driving Risks

a. Talks about driving risks and goes into more detail about making drivers more aware of their driving and what are doing.