The Unspoken War

Report 6

Malia Blumhardt, Meagan Lincoln, Winlee Wong,

PSY409a, Spring 2008, Generation 27

Dr. Leon James, Instructor, University of Hawai’i

Class Homepage


Lecture notes

By Winlee Wong


Notes taken from Road Rage Chapter 10


The Aggressive driving problem has been impacted by a new plan of implementation.  This plan involves many different components of our society including


  • Curbing aggressive driving- persuading people to switch from aggressive to less aggressive or supportive/altruistic driving.  Are we benefiting ourself alone by aggressive driving?  Very common.  In order to not be aggressive, we must consider others not just ourselves.  This has to do with philosophy. 
  • Graduated licensing for young drivers- conditions for first two years of driving, including no driving at night or with other teenagers after a certain time.  Limitations. 
  • Sustaining proficiency in older drivers- drivers to become aware of declining ability-slower in reflexes, not seeing as well in less light, as well as judgment. 
  • Reducing impaired driving- alcohol and drug impaired, as well as emotional impairment (when  mad just jumping in car and driving off/taking out emotion on way of driving).  Keepign drivers alert- falling asleep or distracting driving and accounts for substantial percentage of fatalities.
  • Increasing drivers awareness- lifelong drivers eduction.  Need post licensing renewal based on self renewal.  Idea that drivers have to keep improving after obtaining license.  Needs to be part of society’s thinking about controlling price that we pay for being in a car society. 


There are also state-to-state comparisons of the Aggressive Driving Law Language, and it proves to make a difference.  In other countries such as Qatar, transportation infractions reach 10,000 and have very high fatality rate.  This is comparable to the United States, but we find that these high costs cause very high penalties.  Vague languages are seen in many of the driving laws, and many need to be defined by behavior observation by a police officer.  Today they are still writing laws with vague language, and have difficulty getting convictions from judges, since they are harder to prove.

Dr. James also spoke about drinking and driving and the effect of alcohol has in relation to driving. More than 140,000 die from traffic injuries.  Alcohol is involved in many accidents not involving cars.  Half of the injuries could be prevented by not drinking while operating machinery, boats, or vehicles.  Research indicates that alcohol intoxication is associated from 40 to 50% of traffic fatalities associated with alcohol.  The person who drinks and drives is a very aggressive person.  Common reasons for DUI (Driving Under the Influence) include alcohol induced loss of judgment, desire for more risk and boosting confidence, as well as lack of planning. 


Section 2:  Readings by Meagan Lincoln and Winlee Wong


Team Presentation on Readings

Book:  Road Rage

Chapter 10:  The War Against Aggressive Driving

Pages:  219-235

Authors:  Dr. Leon James & Dr. Diane Nahl


            The war on aggressive driving has truly seemed like a war.  From economical losses to copious deaths, Congressional hearings to newly passed bills, and all other types of enforcement.  This has caused law enforcement and other federal agencies to step-up and attempt to change or prevent future harm.  The war is intensifying, but can’t succeed by relyng on the deterrence of surveillance and punishment.  Their goal is to eliminate this war on aggressive driving by rethinking driver education and training, and making it a lifelong process.


Indirect and Direct Costs


·        Fatalities

·        Injuries

·        Dollars

·        Long-term ill health

·        Increased daily stress

·        Fear and threat on streets and highways

·        Learned negativity in public places leading to automotive vigilantism

·        Reduced productivity when arriving at work mad and exhausted

·        Learned cynicism

·        Greater air pollution due to emotional use of gas pedal

·        Breeding the next generation of aggressive drivers


Congressional Hearings


The administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) testifies in congressional hearings on aggressive driving.  He reports that even though the highways deaths has declined, the total number of highways deaths has increased slightly in the past four years.  He also states that in 1996 almost 42,000 people died and over 3 million were injured in police-reported crashes, and that these collisions due to aggressive driving costs the nation $150 billion a year.  He also reports that 1/3 of the crashes and 2/3 of the fatalities can be attributed to behavior associated with aggressive driving. 

When the media took hold of this information it began a national debate on road rage.  Sources say that his two-thirds theory had repeated itself since then and the pattern continued through the late 1990s, in which the nation’s media declared aggressive driving replaced drunk driving as the worst highway problem.  The federal government intervened and defined aggressive driving as driving behavior that endangers or is likely to endanger people or property.  Aggressive drivers are also more likely to speed, tailgate, fail to yield, and weave in-and-out of traffic.  Although this definition is broad, it introduces two revolutionary ideas about driving and law enforcement.

 Many common driving behaviors are now defined as crimes, such as misdemeanor or felony.  By 1999 the idea had become a reality in sixteen states, and more states were ready to participate as well.  Before these decisions The U.K. and Canada developed aggressive driving laws that mandated jail time for a driver threatening another driver and large fines for motorists who endanger the lives of others.  The second idea in the government’s definition, offenses can be defined by a driver’s mental state, hasn’t been debated in public yet.


Federal Agencies Unite


            The Department of Transportation proposed an act that provided for the development of comprehensive state and community programs aimed at combating aggressive driving.  It would integrate safety plans by giving new funds for transportation infrastructure and safety, including law enforcement initiatives, public awareness eduation, and ITS depoloyment.  The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and the Transportation Research Board hoped to implement a plan  dealing with the key areas that impacted the aggressive driving problem, such as


  • Curbing aggressive driving
  • Graduated licensing for older drivers
  • Sustaining proficiency in older drivers
  • Reduced impaired driving
  • Keeping drivers alert
  • Increasing driver safety awareness
  • Ensuring safer bicycle travel
  • Improving motorcycle safety and awareness
  • Making truck travel safer


Aggressive Police Initiatives


Legislators are enacting aggressive driving bills to assist law enforcement efforts to fight dangerous and illegal driving.  Stealth is still a common technique used in law enforcement, and they have come up with the use of unmarked, nontraditional vehicles, which will increase the effectiveness of any aggressive driving enforcement program.  In Florida the police mounted a stealth aggressive driving initiative, in which the vehicles were confiscated from criminals and used by undercover officers who were equipped with video cameras.  They have captured aggressive drivers on videotape, which will strengthen the court cases. 


Traffic Enforcement Education


            Educating motorists while enforcing the law has been a new concept used by police officers.  San Antonio traffic division used the TEE Cards and encouraged officers to use them.  The cards represent the essential partnership that must exist between law enforcement and traffic education in a new dual role for officers on the road.  The motive to gain public acceptance reflects the desire to teach drivers about highway responsibility and intelligence.  Patrol officers were expected to deliver a TEE cards, which acts as a mini-lesson, along with each warning or citation. 


Driving Lessons, Chapter 15:  Breaking the Crystal Ball by Clay Lafleur, pages 231-243


The beginning of this chapter discussed the use of Participatory action research.  Participants are involved in every step of the inquiry.  The author states that people who take part in this kind of research on a subject like traffic safety are “connected to the everyday life” and that it is a “social and practical form of inquiry.  It is a way of thinking and acting that supports evidence-based conversations designed to bring about social change that reflects a significant community concern.” (232)


Participatory action research is a great way to understand how programs are created and structured.  It educates, empowers, and encourages people to engage in meaningful inquiry to their situations.  Both qualitative and quantitative methods are used.


Characteristic of participatory action research is the integration of many ideas and disciplines.  A variety of methods can be used such as participant observation, secondary analysis, and observational anthropology.  It all begins by first stopping, “we do not begin our inquire until we suspend our current action because of the raising of a question” (234).  This question leads to planning and action.  The use of many methods and having many perspectives really increases effectiveness of the action that will be implemented.


The author states that through participatory action research he has found that individual, “view the skills learned during the process as helpful in other areas in their lives,” and they “have opportunities to serve as project leaders or mentors for less-experienced colleagues.” (235)


A culture of inquiry should be part of the educational system.  This would help individuals adopt many ways of knowledge.  We must learn to cooperatively work together to make change, this would make improving the road system more effective.  Developing a culture of inquiry will take much time and effort.  The author has found seven key questions that serve as a guide for meaningful inquiry.  The seven questions are discussed below and will serve as a “framework for interrogating a wide range of topics related to traffic safety.” (238)


 Why are you researching?  It must be very clear what you are investigating.  Are crosswalk safety dangers due to the drivers?  Or are the students not educated well enough and are they not receiving the right amount of supervision.  Recognizing problems and asking questions will be very beneficial.


Why are you doing the research?  We need to understand the reasons for conducting research and who it is for.  If a research project relates to us and effects us directly, we are more likely to become more committed. 


What difference will your research make?  Students gain a better understanding of social issues and are able to make responsible decisions.  They become more aware of the effects that actions have on individuals.


Should you do the research? We need to ask ourselves if we will be conducting research that isn’t against our morals and ethics.  We also need to make sure that we are not violated the participants rights. 


How can you make your research scientific and comprehensive?  The chapter gives some advice to address this question.  A few include:  create a plan in advance, consider using complementary data sources or research methods, and keep your questions in mind when analyzing your data.  (240) 


What are the equity issues related to your research?  We must make sure that the research we are conducting is fair, bias free across all contexts and diversities. 


How can your research improve the situation?  Our goal is action.  We examine situations to see how we can make improvements. 


Article #18:


I chose an article titled, “The Fast and the Furious.”  Psychologists are finding who gets road rage and ways to calm them down.  They find what kinds of people are prone to road rage and are studying how to possible keep them from becoming dangerous on the road.


For nearly twenty years, psychologists Jerry Deffenbacher has studies anger and aggressive driving and has found five key ways in which high anger drivers differ from low anger drivers.


  1. They engage in hostile, aggressive thinking.  They’re more likely to insult other drivers or express disbelief about the way others drive.  Their thoughts also turn more often to revenge, which sometimes means physical harm
  2. They take more risks on the road.  High anger drivers are more likely to go 10 to 20 mph over the speed limit, rapidly switch lanes, tailgate, and enter an intersection when the light turns red.
  3. Not surprisingly, high anger drivers get angry faster and behave more aggressively.  They’re more likely to swear or name-call, to yell at other drivers, and to honk in anger.  They are also more likely to be angry not just behind the wheel, but throughout the day.
  4. High anger drivers had twice as many car accidents in driving simulations.  They also report more near-accidents and get more tickets for speeding.
  5. Finally, short-fused drivers experience more trait anger, anxiety, and impulsiveness.  Perhaps from work or home stress, high anger drivers are more likely to get in the car angry; they also tend to express their anger outward and act impulsively.


This article states that road rage is not necessarily out of control, that Deffenbacher found that even people with many high anger driving traits stay calm in many situations.  That road rage is a combination of temperament and environmental factors.


Deffenbacher has used several techniques that can help reduce road rage among high-anger drivers, such as teaching applied relaxation coping skills and cognitive restructuring.  He found that both these techniques were equally effective in reducing road rage.


I believe a combination of techniques should be use to help treat and reduce aggressive driving.  Like discussed in lecture, the whole three fold self has been socialized and needs

to be addressed.

Section 3. Exercises By Malia Blumhardt

a)     Summarize the main ideas presented by the team.

Binge drinking used to mean drinking heavily over several days. Now, however, the term refers to the heavy consumption of alcohol over a short period of time. Today the generally accepted definition of binge drinking in the United States is the consumption of five or more drinks in a row by men- or four or more drinks in a row by women. Heavy binge drinking includes three or more such episodes in 2 weeks. Binge drinking does impair decision making. Although it is unclear if there are any long-term neurocognitive effects of binge-drinking during young adulthood, there is reason to be concerned. It is usually other people who are affected by the poor decisions made by binge-drinkers. 

b)     Describe what they did and how they interpreted it.

(1) The team summarized four articles on Binge Drinking by College Students
(2) They then interpreted the results and revealed what they indicate about the mindset of college students.


Malia’s results indicated that: Binge drinking, common among college students, is associated with impaired decision making.Stable high-binge drinking, starting at a pre-college age, is related to diminished decision-making abilities, as exemplified by preferring short-term rewards over long-term losses,"


Jenny’s results indicated that:

Study: College Breeds Alcoholism

College Drinkers

o     1999 Harvard study revealed that 44% of college students engaged in binge drinking in the past two weeks.

o     Binge drinking is defined as consuming 5 drinks within 2 hrs for men and 4 drinks for women.

o     Fatal alcohol-related injuries increased from 1,500 in 1998 to more than 1,700 in 2001 (National Institutes of Health).

The Study

o     Timberlake, lead scientist, and his colleagues followed nearly 9,000 students, including 855 sibling pairs.

o     Students ranged from 7th through college, 12-24 years of age.

o     Students were questioned about the amount of alcohol consumption and the regularity of binge drinking.

o     They were asked in 3 intervals—the start of the study, 1 yr later and 6 yrs later.

The Results

o     By the end of the study, 66% of college students admitted to binge drinking compared to 53% of their non-college peers.

o     Scientists found a link between college attendance and an increase in alcohol consumption far greater for identical twins than other siblings.



Sheena’s results indicated that: Many people do not think about the negative side of drinking. Although they think about the possibility of getting drunk, they may not give much consideration to being hung-over or throwing up. We all may know from experience that excessive drinking can lead to difficulty concentrating, memory lapses, mood changes, and other problems that affect our day-to-day life. But binge drinking carries more serious and longer-lasting risks as well.


(3) The team then informed the class on:

Why binging is so attractive? What college students are getting out of it? What consequences could be faced in their future careers and married lives? As well as, how could binging affect students’ full potential as human beings?


Sheena found that:

College presidents agree that binge drinking is the most serious problem on campus. Students who were binge drinkers in high school were three times more likely to binge in college. Liquor stores, bars, and alcoholic beverage companies make drinking seem attractive and fun.


Binge drinkers cited the following as important reasons for drinking:

  • Drinking to get drunk (cited by 47% of students who consumed alcohol)
  • Status associated with drinking
  • Culture of alcohol consumption on campus
  • Peer pressure and academic stress


A higher percentage of binge drinkers than non-binge drinkers reported having experienced alcohol-related problems since the beginning of the school year. Frequent binge drinkers were 21 times more likely than non-binge drinkers to have:

  • Missed class
  • Fallen behind in school work
  • Damaged property
  • Been hurt or injured


Bing drinking is associated with many health problems, including but not limited to:

  • Unintentional injuries
  • Intentional injuries
  • Children born with fetal alcohol syndrome
  • High blood pressure, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases
  • Liver disease
  • Neurological damage
  • Sexual dysfunction


The US Department of Health and Human Services found that alcohol poisoning is a major consequence of binge drinking. Alcohol poisoning is a severe and potentially fatal physical reaction to an alcohol overdose. When excessive amounts of alcohol are consumed, the brain is deprived of oxygen. The struggle to deal with an overdose of alcohol and lack of oxygen will eventually cause the brain to shut down the voluntary functions that regulate breathing and heart rate.


(4) As well as: 

How does drinking and driving affect college students? How does it affect other adults in our society? What customs in our society encourage drinking and driving? Why are people not being more alert to or conscious of the dangers of drinking and driving?


Jenny found that:

One of my friends died from a head on collision with a drunk driver. I have seen the grief from both sides, when my college friend caused an accident by drinking and driving. Drunk driving affects all of us. The consequences are horrifying. We see it on the news, in the paper, on the road, from a friend and in the worst case in the emergency room. Every day we take a risk when we step out on the road. Its sad to say that even elementary children want to taste alcohol because they think it looks cool. We have succeeded in our campaign. Alcohol is advertised, encouraged and sold every day on television, on movies, at events and games. We are surrounded by it and yet there is little, many times no education on preventing drinking and driving. A simple drink responsibly sign does not hinder drunk drivers.


(5) The team also discussed binge drinking with friends and reported back to the class.


Malia: Interviewed three people she knew. The first person believed that with binge drinking there is long-term effects as far as health when younger, but the consequences of binge drinking can last a lifetime. Consequences can vary from getting into a car wreck and killing someone to getting someone pregnant while wasted. He felt however, that if binge drinking had long term effects on all college students, than you would expect to see at least ½ of all college graduates failing to be successful.


The second person she interviewed came from a French family. She believed that there needs to be more family discussions about alcohol. The third person she interviewed thought that if binge drinking wasn’t such a social activity, than it would be considered alcoholism.

Jenny: Many friends weren’t aware of their actions. They just do it because its what they’re inclined to do, its what’s around them. “We’re just having fun.” “Its just a few drinks.” My friends think its just natural. They become defensive and say I don’t know how to have fun. Its difficult when peer pressure kicks in. That popular bandwagon is even more sparkling and easy to get on than ever. A few of my friends quit drinking after one of our close friends died from binging and other alcohol related accidents. Its all fun and games until someone loses, loses their friend, their job, their dream…their life. I have lost friends due to drinking, I have friends who lost their scholarship due to drinking and poor grades, I have friends who are still struggling to fight alcoholism after college.


(c) Describe some of the ideas that needed a better justification or greater amplification.


The girls provided ample information about binge drinking. They were well prepared and it was easy to see they knew what they were talking about. The only downfall that the girls had a little trouble with was explaining what exactly binge drinking consisted of. The class was a bit confused with the definitions that they had offered. So, a working definition of binge drinking would have probably helped with a better justification on their presentation.

(d) What was the success of the approach they used?


Their approach was successful because they followed the exercise directions to the tee. They made sure to cover all the points thoroughly.

(e) What improvements are needed in the procedures or in the instructions?


The instructions of this exercise were written clearly. It would have been helpful to have had more information on the biological effect of binge drinking on college students.

(f) What are the limitations of these types of exercises?


The only limitation of these types of exercises is that it may be hard to stretch the class presentation for thirty minutes. Most of the information was self-explanatory.

(g) Describe what happened when you did some of the steps of the exercises (don't forget this step!). 


Upon doing this exercise, I found that everything was easy to follow. The only problem I had was with the first article. The link provided didn’t lead me to the extended version of the article.


Section 4:  Web Links by All Authors


1.  Participatory Action Research:

This website discusses youth centered Participatory Action Research.  This gets the youth involved in attempts to make positive social change.  Three organizations are given that involve youth centered Participatory Action Research, they include:  Youth Action Research Institute (YARI), Youth Action Research Group (YARG), and the Youth Strategy Project.


2.  Aggressive Driving is Topic:

This website gives several ways of treating aggressive driving tendencies.  Some listed include:  anger management, driver education, relaxation training, cognitive restructuring, and teaching coping skills.


3.  Aggressive Driving:

This website discusses strategies to reduce aggressive driving that include enforcement, education, and engineering.  The two objectives that are given are to “deter aggressive driving in specific populations, including those with a history of such behavior, and at specific locations,” and the second being to “improve the driving environment to eliminate or minimize the external "triggers" of aggressive driving.”


4. Roadrageous.  This is a course that addresses modification of attitudes and behaviors for drivers of all ages. It addresses the root cause of aggressive driving and changes the way people think, feel and behave behind the wheel.  It is an 8-hour classroom course designed to help drivers acknowledge their negative driving habits and attitudes.


5. Aggressive Driving and the Law.  The NHTSA and the FHWA brought together an array of public safety, legal and adjudication representatives to participate in a symposium.  The symposium sought to derive action steps toward solving the problem of aggressive driving, approached from six different perspectives. 


6. I Drive Safely.  This website hosts defensive driving, traffic school, and driver education courses online. They also provide courses for teen driver’s education, senior driver improvement, and fleet driver training.  These courses may be the next step to improving driving intelligence in the nation.


7. Drivers.  This site is host to a spectrum of information relating to, or involving driving.  They have research, as well as articles relating to many driving topics, such as behavior, safety, enforcement, and training. 


8. Alcohol, problems and solutions


In accordance with the exercise for this upload, this site examines the problem of binge drinking amongst college students. It also considers statistics and offers solutions to handling the binge-drinking problem.


9. Penalties for driving Drunk


It’s not enough for people to just hear “don’t drink and drive.” This site takes you through the steps of what exactly happens to people when they are caught drinking and driving. I think it may help reduce the likelihood of people drinking and driving.


10. Gender differences in Binge Drinking


This site takes a look at a paper that examines the rational behind binge drinking between the different sexes. I found it to be very interesting.