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Report 2:

My Understanding of Driving Psychology


By Ynhu Le


Instructions for this report are at:




Question # 1:   


Consider Tables 1, 2, 3, and 4 in the Lecture Notes, in the Section on Driving Psychology Theory and Charts at http://www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/leonj/leonpsy21/409a-g21-lecture-notes.htm#Charts. Consult the article from which the Tables were taken. Using your own words, describe the three behavioral domains and levels of a driver (nine cells). Illustrate each domain with your own driving behavior skills and errors, or that of another driver you know well, or a driver in a particular movie. Make up a “driving personality makeover” plan for yourself (or another driver you know well). Discuss the problems you anticipate in carrying out such a plan successfully.


          All drivers operate in three separate but interacting behavioral domains known as affective (A), cognitive (C), and sensorimotor (S). The “affective” refers to the emotions and motivations we have while driving. The “cognitive” refers to our thinking and reasoning while driving, and they can be logical or illogical. The “sensorimotor” refers to the sensations, perceptions, and actions that we perform behind the wheel. These three behavioral domains interact with one another to form our driving personality. Table 1 presents how driving behavior is represented as a collection of skills and errors within those three behavioral domains of the self. The skills receive a positive (+) symbol and the errors a negative (-) symbol.


          The nine zones of possible driver behaviors are made up of three levels of development (1, 2, 3) within the three domains (A, C, S). The three levels of development or driver competence are presented from bottom up: Level 1 is Proficiency, Level 2 is Safety, and Level 3 is Responsibility. Such representation is needed to show that habits are built on top of habits, with the top habit being the most recently acquired. Once firmly established, the higher habits can exert a downward influence on the lower habits. Zones 1 through 9 represent skills for the three domains (A, C, S) at three different developmental levels, and their corresponding errors are listed in Zones 10 through 18.


          Level 1 is labeled “Proficiency” to represent the new driver’s initial need to focus on staying calm and alert (affective proficiency), being aware of the surroundings (cognitive proficiency), and coordinating body movements to avoid crashing (sensorimotor proficiency). Level 2 is labeled “Safety” to represent the motivation to avoid getting into trouble (affective safety), the attribution of trouble (cognitive safety), and exchanges and reactions to the trouble (sensorimotor safety). Level 3 or the highest level is labeled “Responsibility” to represent the motive to take responsibility for hurting others (affective responsibility), having prosocial thoughts and plans to increase the quality of driving life (cognitive responsibility), and whether being happy or stressed out (sensorimotor responsibility).


          As a driver, I’ve noticed that I exhibited all of those behavioral zones of driving at one time or another. The table below illustrates each domain with my own driving behavior skills and errors and some examples that I made up. Creating this table is my first step in doing what Dr. Leon James would call the “Lifelong Driver Self-Improvement Program”.


The 18 Behavioral Zones of Driving


Affective Responsibility

A3 (+ or -)


Cognitive Responsibility

C3 (+ or -)


Sensorimotor Responsibility

S3 (+ or -)


(7)  I should be careful and yield to the pedestrian.


(16) I wish I could run her over.



(8) I think that old lady is trying to cross the street. I should slow down and brake.


(17) I don’t think people like that should be allowed on the road.



(9) Smile and motion the pedestrian to cross.


(18) Yelling at the pedestrian: “You want to die? Watch where you’re going!”


Affective Safety

A2 (+ or -)


Cognitive Safety

C2 (+ or -)

Sensorimotor Safety

S2 (+ or -)


(4) I should be careful. I don’t want to follow too close behind that car.


(13) That slow driver is pissing me off.



(5) That guy must be a good driver. He’s following the law.


(14) I think that guy is stupid for going under the speed limit.




(6) Signal and then change lane when it’s safe.


(15) Honking and flashing my high beam at the slow moving car.

Affective Proficiency

A1 (+ or -)


Cognitive Proficiency

C1 (+ or -)

Sensorimotor Proficiency

S1 (+ or -)


(1) I’m not in a hurry. I’m feeling relaxed.


(10) Oh no! I hope I won’t be late to the meeting.



(2) The red light on the school bus is flashing. I better stop.


(11) I think it’s okay to pass the school bus with its lights flashing if there’s no cops around.



(3) Putting both hands on the steering wheel and straightening my posture.


(12) Leaning over to look for my cell phone in my purse.



To become a better driver, I need to come up with a “driving personality makeover” plan. This self-modification plan contains two stages. First, I must do whatever it takes to avoid being an aggressive driver. I will carry out this stage using the AWM (Acknowledge, Witness, Modify) approach. Second, I will do whatever it takes to become a supportive driver. I will carry out this stage by adding new skills to my three behavioral domains (A, C, S).


          The steps I plan to take in order to avoid being an aggressive driver are:


1) Acknowledge that I am an aggressive driver by focusing on one negative habit at a time. For example, acknowledging that my speeding habit makes me an aggressive driver because I am putting myself and others in danger.


2) Witness myself performing the negative habit. For example, keeping track of how often I go over the speed limit and being aware of the amount of pressure applied to the gas pedal while driving.


3) Modify the negative habit. For example, reducing my speed by 4-5 MPH at a time and do so until I can drive at or under the speed limit.


          The steps I plan to take in order to become a supportive driver are:


1)     Make a list of things I can work on to maintain a supportive orientation toward other drivers on the road (affective level), analyze driving situations objectively (cognitive level), and behave like a happy driver (sensorimotor level). For examples:

·        Feeling appreciation when being given advice by passenger (affective)

·        Feeling forgiving when another driver cuts in front of my car without signaling (affective)

·        Acknowledging that slow drivers are not trying to irritate me; they’re just trying to drive carefully (cognitive)

·        Waving thank you to the driver that lets me cut into the lane (sensorimotor)

·        Gesturing and smiling to let another driver go first (sensorimotor)


2)     Work on one item from the list at a time until I have learned to master the whole list.


3)     Create a new list and repeat Steps 2 and 3.


My “driving personality makeover” plan is not as simple as it looks. I anticipate on running into some problems that could prevent me from carrying out my plan successfully. For instance, I could get stuck on one particular step and would not be able to complete the whole plan or I might loose interest and decide to give up. In order to complete my plan successfully, I need to stay focused and motivated. I really look forward to becoming a better driver; a benefit to myself and to society.




Question # 2:


          Give a brief review of our two textbooks: Road Rage and Aggressive Driving (James and Nahl), and Driving Lessons: Exploring Systems that Make Traffic Safer (Peter Rothe, Editor). The review should be between 3 and 6 paragraphs for each text. Select one Chapter from each text and give a summary of it. Discuss in what way will these ideas contribute to society’s driving problems.


In the book Road Rage and Aggressive Driving, Dr. Leon James and Dr. Diane Nahl trace the aggressive driving problem to its roots in childhood when child passengers witness their parents' aggressiveness towards other drivers and from the media’s portrayals of driving. The book educates the readers on the growing problem of road rage. I think this is a great book because it promotes self-assessment and provides adaptive techniques for driver self-improvement. Most importantly, the authors proposed a Lifelong Driver Education Program that could help drivers to continually improve their driving skills and knowledge throughout their career as drivers.


The structure of the book enables readers to have a comprehensive view of the many aspects of road rage. The contents of the book are divided into three major sections. Section 1 is titled “The Conflict Mentality” which covers Chapters 1-4. This section talks about aggressive driving and mental health, causes of highway hostility, and the road rage spectrum. Section 2 is called “Driving Psychology” which covers Chapters 5-9. This section talks about emotional intelligence for drivers, children and road rage, the three-step driver self-improvement program, supportive driving, and lifelong driver education. Section 3 is titled “The Future of Driving” which covers Chapters 10-12. It talks about the war against aggressive driving, dream cars and driving realities, and speed limits. There are exercises and checklists scattered throughout the book to help readers learn how to become better drivers.


Chapter 6 of this book is called “Three-Step Driver Self-Improvement Program.” It is a three-step program that would help an individual become a better driver. This program requires an individual to be objective when identifying problematic driving tendencies and attitudes. The three steps to the program are: 1) Acknowledge (A), 2) Witness (W), and 3) Modify (M). First, the individual must learn to acknowledge that he/she has a negative driving habit. Second, the individual must be consciously aware of the negative habit while driving. Third, the individual must modify the habit. One technique is to switch roles with other drivers to see the problem from a different perspective.


Road Rage and Aggressive Driving provides readers with two plans of attack to curb society’s driving problems: educating future drivers how to become supportive drivers and providing help to those who are victims to road rage. That’s the thing I like best about this book. It not only provides readers an explanation about road rage, but it also provides real descriptions and plausible solutions to society’s driving problems.


Another great book about driving is called Driving Lessons: Exploring Systems That Make Traffic Safer, edited by J. Peter Rothe. Driving Lessons is an outcome of the Traffic Safety Summit held in Kananaskis, Alberta, in 1998. This book is comprised of a collection of articles drawing on sub-systems such as the psychological, sociological, educational, cultural, and legal with the hope of making traffic safer for society. An excellent feature of this book is the exploration of how those sub-systems mentioned above overlap and interact with the road-transportation system.


The structure of this book allows readers to see clearly how the sub-systems are related to traffic safety. The Chapters in this book are divided into three main sections. Section 1 is called “Personal Sub-Systems” and it talks about how the driving experience occurs in a varied and complex environment and it looks at the possibilities for change within personal sub-systems. Section 2 is called “Institutional Sub-Systems” and it talks about how institutions such as the government and school can have an affect on traffic safety. Section 3 is called “Technical Sub-Systems” and it talks about how the structure of the roadway system puts drivers into their roles and the need for innovative driving programs to help drivers manage new expectations on the road.


I think Chapter 11 of this book is an interesting chapter. It talks about volunteer citizen activism and court monitoring. Court monitoring (also know as court watch) is a program designed to give citizens a voice in how their courts are run. In the case of traffic safety, victims and concerned citizens were alarmed at the leniency in which drunk drivers were treated by the Canadian criminal justice system. Volunteer citizen activists, such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), monitor DWI or Driving While Intoxicated court cases as a purpose to increase the extent to which DWI cases are prosecuted and to maximize the penalties. Many believe that the actual presence of monitors in the courtroom can make a difference to the outcome of impaired-driving cases. Court monitoring is an effective program because research have shown that court monitoring can increase the likelihood of convictions, decreasing the likelihood of dismissals, and increasing the length of jail time for repeat offenders. Thus improving traffic safety in the area of drinking and driving.


I think that this book is useful for readers who have an interest in the role of the driver in highway transportation and in taking a new look at traffic safety. Driving Lessons is an advocate of looking at driving through a much broader lens. I think this book contributes to the understanding of society’s driving problems through its emphasis on the cybernetic approach. According to cybernetics, society is composed of a number of systems such as health and education that are themselves built on interrelated sub-systems. In other words, the driving systems maintain their form throughout various processes and instances of change. Therefore, traffic safety can only be understood by looking at the overall interrelationships of things.




Question # 3:

Discuss these two Web sites: drivers.com vs. drdriving.org. What are their main differences? Be sure to consider at least these areas: articles, newsletters, letters, style, probable audience, public relations or policy, advertising, size, ranking.

The two Web sites drivers.com and drdriving.org provide Web users with an abundant of information about driving. Although they provide Web users with driving information, there are many differences in the way those Web sites are structured. My overall rating of the two Web sites is excellent. The fact that there are a lot of differences between those two Web sites is what makes them very interesting.

The most obvious difference I noticed between those two Web sites is the style. For drivers.com, there aren’t that many information on the index page. The index page gives you two choices, one about computer drivers and the other about human drivers. Once you click on “human drivers”, it will take you to the main page where there are many more hidden links to choose from. In other words, the information is not clearly laid out for you to see. In contrast, drdriving.org will provide you with a lot of information on its home page. Its simple style will allow you to scroll down the page and search for the information you need easily.  Drdriving.org may look like it’s a one-page Web site at first glace, but its size is similar compared to drivers.com in terms of the amount of information it provides.

In terms of advertising, drivers.com has a lot more than drdriving.org and it even has its own link, which is labeled “advertise”. That link will give you the option of putting up your very own text style ads that will cost you some money. Drivers.com also accepts and posts links from a wide variety of organizations. On the other hand, drdriving.org barely has any ads. There are just a few ads for books scattered here and there on the Web page. There are some sponsored links listed. Everything else is free for personal use.

In terms of newsletters, drivers.com has their own monthly e-mail newsletter that they send to people for free. When you subscribe to their newsletter, you will receive an e-mail message about new developments at drivers.com every month. I don’t think I have seen any form of newsletter on the drdriving.org Web site. Drdriving.org may not have any newsletter, but they sure receive a lot of those Dear Dr. Driving letters. In the letters, people generally give their reactions and opinions to the things that they read about on the Web site. I don’t remember coming across any letters as I was searching through the drivers.com Web site so I’m assuming that they don’t post them.

Drivers.com is an information resource for both traffic safety professionals and the general public, with a wealth of information on driver training, education, and licensing. I think drivers.com is very much business oriented. The Web site is designed for adult audiences who would want to purchase things or learn some quick information about driving in general; with nothing related to driving psychology. I think drdriving.org would be more appealing to drivers of all ages because it provides a lot of in-depth information about driving psychology issues, and road rage news and legislation. The interesting thing is that drdriving.org also talks about other rages besides road rage such as air rage, surf rage, boat rage, and shopping rage. This Web site would also be a great for college students who need to do research papers on a topic related to driving psychology.


Another difference I noticed about those two Web sites is their collection of articles. Drdriving.org has a lot of articles on road rage and aggressive driving. For examples: “Violence and Driving – A Mental Health Issue” and “Hawaii Road Rage and Driving Issues”. Drivers.com on the other hand, has a lot of articles about driving in general. For examples: “Driving in Other Countries” and “Battling for Space”.


Question # 4 (extra credit):

Select six student reports on driving psychology from Generation 20, as listed in the Readings Section of the Lecture Notes at www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/leonj/leonpsy21/409a-g21-lecture-notes.htm#g20-reports.  You must select any two students from Report 1, any two from Report 2, and any two from Report 3. Summarize each of the six reports. Add a General Conclusion Section in which you discuss your reactions to what they did – (a) their ideas, (b) their method, (c) their explanations. What did they gain from doing their reports? How do their ideas influence what you yourself think about these issues?

Report 1 – Driving Psychology: Theory and Application:        

Information Taken From Jenny Arakaki (www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/409as2004/arakaki/report1.htm) and Shari Arakawa-Longboy (www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/409as2004/arakawa-longboy/report1.htm

          Shari Arakawa-Longboy started her Report 1 by telling the reader about the course called Driving Psychology and she stated her opinion about writing generational reports in class. Shari went on to say how proud she was to be part of Generation 20. Shari also gave her personal summaries to 3 of the reports written by 3 different students from previous generations. Then Shari went into some detailed explanation about the topic and purpose of the course. Shari thinks that the things she learned in class will help her change herself into a better driver. Shari also gave some interesting definitions to some of the concepts that are related to driving psychology such as “the driver’s threefold self” and “road rage”. In her autobiographical section, Shari talked about how observing her loved ones drive recklessly since she was a kid had a big influence on her as a driver. By taking the course, it made her realize that just because other people influenced her driving behavior, it doesn’t mean that she has to drive that way for the rest of her life. In her conclusion section, Shari mentioned how she learned a lot from doing the assignment and how it puts driving in a whole different perspective for her. Shari’s advice to future generations is to follow directions and to stay on schedule with the coursework.

          In her Report 1, Jenny Arakaki mentioned that driving psychology is a course on how to manage ones thoughts and emotions while driving on the road. Jenny then went into details about an interesting concept that Dr. Leon James pointed out in class called the accordion effect. “An accordion effect occurs when one person steps on their brake which in turn creates a chain reaction which will continue for many miles along the road”. Jenny seems to like the fact that she’s part of Generation 20 because she believes that the thoughts and opinions written in the reports from her generation might help save someone’s life in the future. Jenny also thinks that it’s beneficial to learn driving psychology so that people can have a better understanding of the different driving styles and habits exhibited by other drivers on the road. Jenny also went on to explain some interesting concepts such as the “Scofflaw” and “Left Lane Bandit”. In her autobiographical section, Jenny talks about her good and bad driving habits. Jenny’s advice to future generations is to learn from our driving mistakes and work on them.

Report 2 – My Driving Personality Makeover Project:   

Information Taken From Ikue Fukushima (www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/409as2004/fukushima/report2.htm) and Shari Arakawa-Longboy (www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/409as2004/arakawa-longboy/report2.htm)

          Ikue Fukushima started her Report 2 by briefly summarizing what she did for her Report 1. Since Ikue didn’t have a driver’s license at the time she was doing this report, she decided to let her boyfriend do an objective self-assessment on himself as a driver. Ikue let her boyfriend take various tests and questionnaires from the book called Road Rage and Aggressive Driving to analyze the various aspects of his “threefold self” as a driver. Since the results to the tests and questionnaires showed that Ikue’s boyfriend needs to work on his affective and cognitive self, Ikue designed experiments to modify her boyfriend’s negative emotion and thinking attitude. The results to those experiments showed that her boyfriend improved in all aspects of his “threefold self”. The assignment helped Ikue’s boyfriend be more aware of his aggressive driving style and philosophy.

          Shari Arakawa-Longboy also started her Report 2 by summarizing what she did for her Report 1. In Report 2, Shari tried to identify her driving style and find out ways to modify it. She designed an experiment that would help change her driving persona. The first thing she did was conduct a self-assessment to identify the problematic areas of her driving psychology. Shari took a few self-assessment tests and checklists from the book Road Rage and Aggressive Driving. Shari then used the AWM (acknowledge, witness, modify) approach to carry out her experiment. The experiment went well for Shari even though she ran into some problems in the beginning. Shari came to realize that her bad driving habits are breakable. Being able to observe her own improvements through the experiment that she did made her a happier person. Since she’s happy with the results that she saw, Shari planned to help her husband change his driving personality as well. Shari’s advice to future generations is that we should apply the things we learn in class in our daily lives.

Report 3 – My Proposal for Lifelong Education:  

Information Taken From Jesse Chang (www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/409as2004/chang/report%203.htm) and Shari Arakawa-Longboy (www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/409as2004/arakawa-longboy/report3.htm)

          Jesse Chang starts off his third report by giving the reader an overview of what he did for his Report 2. Jesse then gave a brief review of Chapter 9 on Lifelong Driver Education in the book Road Rage and Aggressive Driving. In addition, Jesse also commented on prior generational reports about that particular chapter in the book. He also discussed some of the things he learned from Generation 20 class presentations about aggressive driving. Jesse discussed the oral presentations from three students: Sarah Philips, Jeremy Kubo, and Christine Oishi. Some of the ideas in Chapter 9 which he found to be interesting are: Teenagers At Risk, Roadrageous Video Course, Post Licensing, Older Drivers At Risk, and Driving Psychology Curriculum. By carefully reading that Chapter on Lifelong Driver Education, Jesse was able to come up with a proposal for his own Lifelong Driver Education. Jesse believes that from birth, the parent should create a supportive, loving and nurturing environment for the baby. He even suggested that hospitals should issue pamphlets about the Road Rage Nursery and how it can influence a child’s future driving personality from day 1. The parent should continue to be good role models as the child grows. Driver license will only be given out to responsible teenagers who have gained a good amount of knowledge from school on how to be supportive drivers. Adults with license should participate in QDC’s or Quality Driving Circles. Jesse also thinks that there should be an HPD unit created just for traffic management. As for the elderly over the age of 65, he believes that they should be required to take a physical exam annually to check for sight, reflexes, and coordination. His advice to future generations is to not procrastinate.

          Shari Arakawa-Longboy also starts off her Report 3 by giving the reader a brief review of the purpose and summary of her Report 2. She then went on to talk about the purpose of Report 3. Shari also gave an overview of Chapter 9 on “Lifelong Driver Education”. She talked about “Teenagers At Risk”, “Driver-Zed”, “Driving Psychology Curriculum”, “Post Licensing: The QDC Approach”, Roadrageous Video Course, and “Older Drivers At Risk”. Shari also quoted some interesting things that she came across while reading Chapter 9 and she provided her comments on them. She then went on to discuss the oral presentations for the following students: Melissa Mansfield, Chris Concepcion, and Jesse Chang. In terms of her lifelong driver education proposal, Jesse thinks that from infancy through grade 6, the focus should be on “affective education”. Parents should monitor the types of movies and TV shows their child watches and be good role models. Shari thinks that during middle school, the focus should be on cognitive factors in addition to continuing incorporating affective education. During high school, the focus should be on sensorimotor driving skills along with incorporating affective and cognitive skills. Shari also thinks that lifelong driver education should adopt the idea of “graduate licensing”. During adulthood, although most drivers have graduated from driver education courses and the graduated licensing program, it is still important that adult drivers continue their education for lifelong driver education by being involve in QDC’s, for example. She thinks that elderly people should have a yearly physical and eye examinations in order to be more certain that they are still fit to drive.

General Conclusion:

          I am surprised to see the depth of information about driving psychology that was covered in those reports. I think those students did an excellent job in sharing their knowledge with future generations. From reading those 6 reports, I think most of the ideas suggested by those students are fairly similar. All of them acknowledged that they’re not perfect drivers and they’re willing to change their driving habits for the better. I think the methods that they’ve used to assess their driving attitudes and behaviors seem valid and reliable. I also think that the explanations they’ve provided are very thorough and logical. I’ve noticed that all the students agreed to Dr. Leon James’ idea of Lifelong Driver Education. I think that they’ve taken that idea to heart and will continue to improve their own driving skills.  I truly agree with that idea myself. By doing those reports, the students probably learned that driving aggressively and exhibiting road rage are things that can be learned therefore, they can be unlearned with enough motivation and practice. Those students also learned how to accurately assess their driving style by self-witnessing. Self-witnessing is one of those leading steps towards change. Their ideas have influenced me to think more about my own driving psychology and they’ve given me a sense of motivation. I think it’s a matter of taking the initiative to apply what you’ve learn to become a better driver. A better driver would definitely benefit our society as a whole.


Question # 5:

Consider Table 5 in the Lecture Notes, in the Section on Driving Psychology Theory and Charts at www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/leonj/leonpsy21/409a-g21-lecture-notes.htm#Charts.  Consult the article from which the Table was taken. Copy and paste the table into your file. Now delete the examples in each cell and replace them with your own examples that you make up. Discuss why driving is such a big problem in all societies and why no effective solutions have yet been found for them. Discuss the solutions offered by Dr. Leon James (DrDriving). What likelihood is there that his approach will be adopted? Explain.


Table 5
Emotionally Intelligent Driver Personality Skills

Driver Competence Skills



Emotionally Intelligent


1. Focusing on self vs. blaming others or the situation


"Traffic is moving way too slow. I will be late for school!"



"I should have left the house 30 minutes earlier since there’s usually a lot of traffic at this hour."

2. Understanding how feelings and thoughts act together


"I’m feeling angry and annoyed. Is that guy trying to irritate me? "


"I shouldn’t lose my cool just because I’m having all of these negative emotions."


3. Realizing that anger is something we choose vs. thinking it is provoked


"That guy makes me mad when he cuts me off like that."



"I make myself mad when someone cuts in front of me."

4. Being concerned about consequences vs. giving in to impulse


"I just want to give that guy the finger and honk at him."


"I shouldn’t lose my cool because I don’t want to cause any trouble."

5. Showing respect for others and their rights vs. thinking only of oneself


“I need to get to work on time and the driver in front of me is driving like an old lady. Go faster!”


“I’m just being impatient. It’s good that the driver in front of me is following the speed limit.”

6. Accepting traffic as collective team work vs. seeing it as individual competition


"I’m speeding and changing lanes because I want to be the first in line at that traffic light."


"I should stick to this lane because I will slow everybody down if I keep switching lanes."


7. Recognizing the diversity of drivers and their needs and styles vs. blaming them for what they choose to do


"How can he be so stupid? He’s going so slow in the fast lane."


"I think that guy is trying to drive carefully and he’s probably more comfortable driving in the left lane.”

8. Practicing positive role models vs. negative


“I better close the gap so that driver won’t be able to cut in."


"That driver is trying to cut in. I should slow down and motion to the let the driver cut in.”

9.  Learning to inhibit the impulse to criticize by developing a sense of driving humor


"Slow drivers are stupid drivers. They don’t know that they’re slowing everybody down."


"I’ll be the most patient driver out there if I can drive behind those slow drivers without getting annoyed."

10. Taking driving seriously by becoming aware of one’s mistakes and correcting them


"I’m such a good driver. I speed all the time without getting caught."


"I monitor my speed whenever I’m on the road and I try not to go over the speed limit."



Driving is such a big problem in all societies because all societies are made up of a diversity of drivers with different styles and needs. Driving is such a high dramatic activity that stems from high risk and unpredictability. People expect to experience freedom when they’re out on the road, but instead they encounter restrictions that prevent them from driving as they wish. Those factors in addition to individual personality factors can contribute to road rage and aggressive driving. Perhaps the biggest cause of unsafe driving on the road is people’s unwillingness to take responsibility for their own conduct, preferring to blame other drivers.

There are solutions that have been proposed to fix this problem, but none are effective. Some of the solutions include having safer roads, better designed cars, and better law enforcement. Despite these significant improvements, the rate of traffic deaths and injuries remains relatively constant over the years. These solutions are not effective because as the external environmental forces for greater safety increases, the internal individual forces for maintaining high risk also increases. This resistance to accident reduction or the “risk homeostasis” phenomenon is attributed to the attitude and behavior of drivers who tend to respond to safety improvements by driving more aggressively. Thus it defeats the whole purpose. For example, if a road is made safer by straightening it, drivers will compensate for the greater safety by driving faster on it. Neither conventional driver education nor defensive driving courses provide today’s drivers the training for emotional intelligence on the road.

Dr. Leon James suggested numerous solutions to this problem. Since driving is a habit in three domains of behavior, driving self-improvement is possible and effective in improving driving. Socio-cultural management techniques can be used to change driving norms and behavior. An example would be QDCs or Quality Driving Circles. The function of these groups is to build up the motivation of drivers to practice lifelong self-modification activities. A three-step program can also be used to help drivers develop better emotional self-control on the road. The first step to this program is to acknowledge that every driver needs traffic emotions education. The second step is to witness your actual behavior while driving. The third step is to modify the behaviors you want to change, one thing at a time. Most importantly, Dr. Leon James believes that we should all have lifelong driver education. The purpose of a lifelong driver education is to instill good driving habits throughout people’s career as drivers. The major emphasis is that driver education should involve a new K-12 driving psychology curriculum focusing on systematic self-assessment skills and emotional intelligence for road users since most children are exposed to aggressive driving at a very young age.

I think some of the solutions proposed by Dr. Leon James are logical, but it might be difficult to carry out those approaches. Our society has a lack of motivation and most of us are not even aware of the severity of the problem. I think we need to increase people’s awareness and focus the public attention on the social implications of driving attitudes and behaviors. I also think that the idea of a lifelong driver education can be adopted if we obtain enough support from citizens and more resources from the government.


Question # 7:

Our textbook Road Rage and Aggressive Driving has exercises in several chapters. Do the following four exercises: (a) Exercise on scenario analysis on p. 205; (b) Exercise on acting as-if on p.128; (c) Exercise on self-assessment on p. 134; and (d) Checklist of your road rage tendency on p. 40. What were your reactions to the exercises? Discuss how these exercises help you to become more aware of yourself as a driver. Do some of the exercises with another driver you know. How do they help you understand some principles of driving psychology?

The first exercise I did was on “Scenario Analysis of a Teenager’s Unrecognized Road Rage Behavior”. The scenario presented is about a 16 year old boy and his friend who got lost on their way to a friend’s party around midnight. They were on their way home when they encountered a disgruntled driver in a black SUV who swerved right past them on the freeway. A while later, the boy and his friend took the same exit onto another freeway with the SUV following behind them. They thought it would be funny to take up both of the lanes and drive slow so that the SUV couldn’t pass them. The driver in the SUV then pointed a gun at them which led to a high speed chase on the freeway that could have been deadly. The text identified 13 bad driving behaviors or specific chain of steps those two teenagers performed that together make up this road rage incident. The exercise requires me to come up with a comment on how each step contribute to the teenagers’ trouble and how could they have backed out of it at each step by doing something else.

Some of the comments that I gave for the first exercise were: the teenagers should not have been out on the road that late in the night, they should have called someone to ask for directions, and they should have left the SUV driver alone instead of doing something provocative. This my very first time doing this type of scenario analysis and I think it was very interesting. Doing this scenario analysis can help me develop my emotional intelligence because it allows me to be more aware of how my behavior can affect other drivers on the road. The teenagers in this scenario also avoid admitting that they did something wrong and they refused to think objectively. Lost of objectivity is one of the conflictual aspects of driving that acts as a stressor. I learned that drivers lose objectivity and right judgment when a dispute comes up and subjectivity can increase stress by strengthening the feeling that one has been wronged.

The second exercise I did was on the “Inner Power Tool: Acting As If”. The purpose of this exercise is to act like something doesn’t matter to me when I’m driving on the road, even if I feel upset. In other words, when I find myself saying or thinking about something in an oppositional driving style then I should change my message into a supportive driving style immediately. For example, when I feel like saying “Nope, you can’t come in here. We’re all in a hurry, not just you. You’ll have to wait your turn” then I should be saying “We’re all in a hurry, but there’s room for one more. Go ahead, be my guest”. Another example would be: Instead of saying “Hurry up dude! You’re driving like an old lady. I’m going to swear at him.” I will say “I feel like swearing, but it’s not worth it. Besides, swearing at him might slow him down even more and I don’t feel like causing trouble.” I did this exercise with my friend in the passenger seat of the car and we thought it was easy and fun. I learned from this exercise that obsessing about traffic or about how someone drives just isn’t necessary because it would only make me a stressed driver. Driving in a supportive manner will still allow me to get to my destination on time. This is something I’ve never thought of before doing this exercise. Being more trained in emotional intelligence will definitely help me become a better driver.

The third exercise I did was on “Assessing Myself As a Driver”. The first part of the exercise requires me to make a list of my best traits and another list of my worst traits as a driver. I was very surprised to see that I had an easier time listing out more of my worst traits than my best traits. I have to admit, I’m not a very good driver after all. Some of my best driving traits are: always wear my seatbelt, courteous to other drivers, and I don’t tailgate. Some of my worst driving traits are: multi-tasking, speeding, not always using my blinkers, and making fast turns.  I also asked a friend of mine to tell me what she would consider my best and worst qualities as a driver. When I compared my lists with my friend’s lists, they were about the same. I’m glad to know that I was able to assess myself as a driver accurately. Doing this exercise on paper and pencil allows me to see the areas that I need to improve as a driver.

Lastly, the fourth exercise I did was on “Checklist: Your Road Rage Tendency”. There are 20 questions to this exercise and I just have to read each statement and circle “Yes” if it applies to me reasonably well, or “No” if it doesn’t. I scored 8 out of 20. I think this exercise was very easy. A score less than 5 means you’re not an aggressive driver and your road rage tendency is manageable. A score between 5 and 10 indicate that you have moderate road rage habits. A score greater than 10 means your road rage tendency is out of control. I wished I could score under 5, but that is not the case. I need to accept the fact that I have moderate road rage habits. After all, acknowledging that I’m not a perfect driver is the first step towards self-improvement. By examining the pattern of my answers, I have gained a valuable insight about my current level of emotional intelligence as a driver. I think I might be able to reduce my score to below 5 if I start using some of the self-improvement techniques that I learned in class. My answers for this exercise is presented below:

 1.   I swear a lot more in traffic than I do elsewhere.   NO

 2.   I normally have critical thoughts about other drivers.   YES

 3.   When a driver in a parking lot tries to steal the space I’ve been waiting for, I get furious.   YES

 4.   I fantasize about doing violence to other drivers (e.g., using guns or blowing them up or sweeping them aside) – but it’s just fantasy.   NO

 5.   When drivers do something really “stupid” that endangers me or my car, I get furious, even aggressive.   NO

 6.   It is good to get your anger out because we all have aggressive feelings inside that naturally come out under stressful situations.   YES

 7.   When I’m very upset about something, it’s a relief to step on the gas to give my feelings an outlet.   YES

 8.   I feel that it’s important to force certain drivers to behave appropriately on the highway.   YES

 9.   Pedestrians shouldn’t have the right to walk slowly in crosswalks when cars are waiting.   NO

10.  Pushy drivers really annoy me so I bad-mouth them to feel better.   NO

11.  I tailgate when someone drivers too slow for conditions or in the passing lane.   NO

12.  I try to get to my destination in the shortest time possible, or else it doesn’t feel right.   YES

13.  If I stopped driving aggressively, others would take advantage of my passivity.   NO

14.  I feel unpleasant emotions when someone beats me to the light or when someone gets through and I’m stuck on red.   NO

15.  I feel energized by the sense of power and competitions I experience while driving aggressively.   NO

16.  I hate speed bumps and speed limits that are set too low.   YES

17.  Once in a while I get so frustrated in traffic that I begin to drive somewhat recklessly.   NO

18.  I hate large trucks and I refuse to drive differently around them.   NO

19.  Sometimes I feel that I’m holding up traffic so I start driving faster than feels comfortable.   YES

20.  I would feel embarrassed to “get stuck” behind a large vehicle on a steep road.   NO



Advice to Future Generations:

Discuss about what students should know to succeed in this course and what they can expect to get out of it.

The things I’ve learned in this class are priceless. This class allows me to see driving in a whole new perspective. I was able to acquire self-witnessing and self-modification skills in the area of driving behavior. Not only did I learn how to become a better driver, but I also learned how to improve my public speaking skills and be able to publish my work on the Web.

Some important facts we were told to memorize for this class are: There are at least 42,000 traffic fatalities that occur every year, around 6.5 million people go to the hospital with serious injuries annually, and economic losses costs the U.S. around $250 billion a year.

My biggest advice to students who will be taking this course is to stay on top of the materials. It can become very difficult at times to stay on track because you’re basically working at your own pace and completing the work on your own. Once you procrastinate, the quality of your work will not be as good as it could have been if you didn’t. I know this because I am a big procrastinator myself. Other than that, the class materials are fairly easy. You will mostly be graded on the oral presentations and how well you follow directions while doing your assignments. Just relax, open your mind to new ideas, and enjoy what this class has to offer. GOOD LUCK!!  J



Helpful Links:


Class Home Page:  http://www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/leonj/leonpsy21/classhome-g21.htm


My Home Page:     http://www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/409af2004/le/home.htm


Report 1:      http://www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/409af2004/le/409a-g21-report1.htm


Dr. Driving:  http://www.drdriving.org




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