Definitions of Traffic Psychology:
My Interpretation of Traffic Psychology:
Table of Contents:
Instructions For This Report
Introduction- What Is Traffic Psychology?
Definitions of Traffic Psychology:
Chris Murakami
Raenne Yamashiro
Cherilyn Okazaki
Jae Isa
Why We Need Traffic Psychology
Suggestions to Future Generations

      What is traffic psychology?  Have you ever heard of it being studied in any of you psychology classes?  Up until now, I haven't and this is why I chose to do this report.  To me, traffic psychology is the study of people's moment to moment interpretations of traffic events.  This can include interactions between cyclists, drivers, and pedestrians.  People have different interpretations of these events on the road because of  their diverse personalities.  Driving events can produce many emotional responses and thought processes.  A main principle in traffic psychology is that the driving behavior includes an affective domain (feelings and motives), a cognitive domain (thoughts and judgements), and the sensorimotor domain (input and motor output).  These three things are present in any driving situation. 

    Traffic psychology is an important aspect of our study in psychology.  Being out in traffic or on the road is part of everday life and it is important to be aware of how it can influence our behavior.  Learning about traffic psychology and what it is will help us to become aware of our own driving inadequecies and  it will help us to change our behavior on the road in positive ways.

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Definitions of Traffic Psychology:
These 5 definitions of traffic psychology are briefly described in this next section to help expand your definition of traffic psychology.  These definitions are taken from prior generations and I hope will help you gain a broader perspective on the study of traffic psychology.

Chris Murakami:
    "Traffic Psychology is the study of traffic and the effect it has on the driving behavior of all road users."  Mr. Murakami goes on to talk about how learning about traffic psychology can "enlighten" you.  He goes on to say that this discipline will go on to help us think of our actions and the consequences it has on others.  I agree with Chris when he states that traffic psychology will also help us to become more aware of our "driving inadequacies" and make us alert to the bad examples of driving on television, in movies, and on our own roads.  Chris picks out the main principles of traffic psychology and tries to learn from them.  The discipline of traffic psychology will serve to  better his driving actions and expand his self awareness on the road.

    I agree with Mr. Murakami when he states that learning about traffic psychology will help us to think about our actions and the effect that it has on others.  This is a key concept in driving.  For example, using gestures such as waving, smiling, or signaling can have a positive effect on drivers around you.  I think that studying traffic psychology will be beneficial to me because it will teach me standard rules of the road, it will help me to evaluate certain aspects of my personality, and it will help me to drive with greater awareness.

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Raennee Yamashiro:

    Ms. Yamashiro begins her report by describing the history of traffic psychology.  It is a fairly new topic of study that started in 1980 under the direction of Dr. James. She speaks about how our own personalities influence how we behave on the road.  She goes on to discuss how we can examine our own behaviors on the road and why we react the way we do to certain situations.  She states that traffic psychology studies the thought processes that road users go through when making a decision on the road.  An interesting aspect that she brings up in her report is the relationship between the car and its owner.  Ms. Yamashiro says that a person's car can bring about feelings of  "a sense of shelter, protection, and sometimes invincibility."  As a result, when a person sits behind the wheel of their car, it can bring about a total change in their personality.

    I agree with the notion that our personalities influence how we are on the road.  I don't have my driver's license, so I am able to observe many people while they drive- especially my parents, friends, etc.  I think that many of them react to certain situations on the road similar to their personality characteristics.  For example, my boyfriend is a very patient person.  While getting into frustrating predicaments on the road, he never grumbles or gets easily angered.

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Cherilyn Okazaki:

    Cherilyn describes Traffic Psychology in a three-step process.  I thought this was an interesting way to describe it.  She first talks about a realization of negative actions while driving.  The second step is to study the behavior in its cognitive, psychomotor, and affective domain.  Finally, it is crucial to modify that negative action into a positive one.  Ms. Okazaki describes traffic psychology as a behavior modification process that is necessary anytime that you are required to "share a space."  This includes behavior changes not only from drivers, but from cyclists and pedestrians.  To expand on her definition of traffic psychology, Cherilyn describes and instance where she needed to evaluate her behavior in a driving situation.  I think that this page was very informational because she described situations where she applied her knowledge about traffic psychology in an aspect of her driving life.

    I think that traffic psychology is important to study because people need to recognize their negative actions while driving.  There are so many traffic accidents on the road today.  I think that if everyone can be trained to take a look at their behavior patterns while driving, there would be a lot less accidents!  This is easier said than done.  It is hard enough to identify one's detrimental behavior, let alone change it!  To find out more about how you can evaluate your behaviors on the road check out Overview of Dr Driving:  Road Rage and Aggressive Driving.

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Jae Isa:
    Ms. Isa's definition of traffic psychology is  "helpful in explaining why people do what
they do in traffic and in decreasing auto accidents and fatalities."  She states that the two main purposes of traffic psychology are to: 1) decrease amount of auto accidents and traffic fatalities and 2)  improve the American character.  By studying traffic psychology, we can make our roads safer by developing new laws and regulations.  Ms. Isa also brings up the topic of car phobias.  She states that  many people are afraid of commuting by cars.  This is a  disorder treated with systematic desensitization and other cognitive therapies.  On the other hand, she discusses how a car can sometimes be a "safety blanket" or an extension of a person's home.  In summary, Ms. Isa's definition of traffic psychology includes the importance of studying people's behaviors in traffic and other aspects of psychology such as disorders people have in driving situations.

    I find it interesting that one of the main purposes of studying traffic psychology is to improve the American character.  What does this mean?  How can we do this?  Like I mentioned above, behavior modification can greatly reduce the amount of traffic accidents on the road.  Improving the "American character" is part of the first steps.  I think this can include teaching communication skills that include obeying traffic laws, being courteous to other road users, and being self aware- having responsibility for your own actions.

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Why Traffic Psychology Is Needed:
    In order to have safe and effective passage on the roadways, road users need to be aware of each other.  This can be communication through verbally or non-verbally.  Traffic psychology is needed in order to reduce the amount of accidents on the road, it helps us to become better American citizens, and it is important in helping us to become self aware which leads to behavior modification.  Traffic psychology is needed to help us to communicate with other drivers and to evaluate moment-to-moment interpretations of events.

    Much of the communication that we do on the road is non-verbal.  As a driver, using turning signals, direction of your car, your driving speed, and waving gestures can help facilitate safer roads by letting others know your intentions.  For example, slowing down when there is heavy traffic or when it is raining.  Driver's need to pay attention to each other and the verbal messages that they display.  Although I am not a driver at all, I realize the importance for the knowledge of traffic psychology on the road.  It can help to anticipate actions of other drivers, pay more attention to non-verbal cues, and help you realize your actions on the road as a driver.
Driving aggressively has been proven to cause accidents.  To read about a study that discusses aggressive driving, go to:
    Pedestrians also have the need to communicate to other road users with non-verbal cues.  When crossing the street, cars can sometimes motion you to go first before they make a turn.  This is an important communication method needed when walking out on the streets.  Pedestrians need to be responsible when walking out in the streets and know the traffic laws too.  Many times I see people just walk out into the street just because the sign says "WALK" without even checking first. Crosswalks are available at busy intersections to help keep you safe.   Traffic psychology is important for pedestrians as well as drivers because you still need to know the rules and laws of the road and abide by them. To read about some studies done about pedestrian accidents, go to:

Moped Riders:
    Moped riders also have to know the non-verbal communication between drivers and pedestrians.  Many times, I see moped riders weeve in and out of traffic or drive on the shoulder lane to avoid traffic.  They need to obey the same rules as drivers if they want to share the road with them.  Although mopeds do not go as fast as cars do, they should still obey the same laws.  Moped riders can also be succeptible to aggressive driving as evidenced by tailgating and weaving in and out of traffic.  Traffic psychology is also important for these road users because they must obey the same laws and learn the same "language" as drivers and pedestrians. Driving under the influence of alcahol is very dangerous and it causes many accidents.  Whether you are driving a car, motorcycle, moped, riding a bike etc., it is dangerous to be under the influence of alcahol.  To read about some facts about driving under the influence, go to:

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Suggestions to Future Generations:
    I really encourage all future generations to take a look at Dr. James' web page on traffic psychology.  At this site, you can get an in depth look at what traffic psychology is all about besides what you talk about in class.  Another good hint is to look at all of the other similar reports to this so that you can take all of the good aspects from them and make your page even better!  Last, but not least, I really encourage you to start early on this report because it takes a lot of time reading through all of the information and sorting through everything!  It will give you time to gather your thoughts and to write a really good report.

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    As you can see, traffic psychology can range from a variety of things.  It encompases all aspects of psychology from learning, behavior, personality, and certain disorders.  Traffic psychology is the study of people's moment to moment interpretations of traffic events.  This can include interactions between cyclists, drivers, and pedestrians.  People have different interpretations of these events on the road because of  their diverse personalities.  Driving events can produce many emotional responses and thought processes.  Traffic psychology can also be studied in three domains- cognitive, affective, and psychomotor.  Traffic psychology can also be used in everyday life to educate drivers, pedestrians, and other road users.  It can help you to re-evaluate your behaviors and thought processes and to then change them in positive ways.

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