Report 1

Driving Psychology: Theory and Application

by Jenny Arakaki

1. Preface

Driving psychology is a course on how to manage your thoughts and emotions while driving on the road. This process is lifelong that needs to be taught to every individual, young or old. Driving psychology can also make the individual more aware of their habits or tendencies while driving on the road and help to improve and eliminate the habits that may lead to aggressive behaviors. Driving psychology also allows to think of your actions and try to exhibit proper behavior when dealing with the situation.

I think we live in a fast-paced society, where no one wants to wait in traffic. According to Caroline Balatico, she also thinks we live in a fast-paced society, always on the run. We all live by the clock, taking the fastest route to get to our destination whether it be to not be late or to avoid traffic or just getting there as fast as possible, not wasting a second. We think it is better to get to your destination in the shortest time possible. I know many of my friends who try and find shortcuts to get through traffic faster. I think they think it's faster to go on a roundabout way, but to me it wastes gas and sometimes seem to take longer than it should be. Just because those shortcuts allow you to move at all times, and being stuck in traffic makes you stop several times, does not mean that it would be faster. I can relate to this idea since I can see it in my friends. We should all take more time to relax and enjoy the ride, rather than being in a rush. It will save us gas and the environment and most importantly, our lives.

According to Cynthia Yap from generation 1 curriculum, she writes that interesting point that Dr. James pointed out at the start of the semester which is the accordion effect. I thought it was an interesting concept to look at the way traffic was created. 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. The space in between the cars become smaller as the cars start to slow down and get closer to the car in front of them. As traffic starts up again, the gap becomes big again creating a delay in each car to start going. This idea will keep on going which will create more traffic for those of us behind.

Being part of Generation 20 is cool. We are all able to voice our thoughts and opinions about driving psychology. People will be able to read our work and hopefully apply it to their everyday life. It will hopefully improve their driving skills and allow them to learn from our past mistakes and experiences. It can save a life, since within one year we have so many accidents and fatalities.


2. Introduction

The topic of this course is driving psychology. I understand the course to be lessons learned when driving on the roads, the way we deal with aggression within ourselves and toward other drivers and psychological aspects of the "road rage' theory and tendencies. There are ways to improve our driving habits or even try to eliminate them to create a safer environment for everyone. I am involved in this topic of driving psychology because I am a driver, a passenger and a bystander. I have created my own style of driving on the road and developed my own bad habits that classify me as aggressive. I tend to speak loudly when I feel I have been violated by another car, cutting me off or failing to yield at a yield or stop at a stop sign.

I feel that driving psychology is a meaningful topic for me because I am a driver and am aware of the various driving techniques other people tend use while in traffic or on a residential street. I think we all need to develop better habits before entering into a car. There are too many traffic accidents, minor and major, and many fatalities that occur unnecessarily. All those tragedies could have been prevented and could have prevented many deaths.

I think in taking this class, I will become more aware of the driving styles and tendencies I have developed or learned from others. It is very important to take a class in driving psychology because people do not understand the different styles of driving and habits we all have developed, which may offend another person, though it may not be offensive to ourselves. We all need to develop better driving skills that would help improve the society we live in. We all need to be more courteous toward other drivers and learn to have patience.

3. Definitions

(i) The driver's threefold Self

The driver's threefold self is your driving personality which consists of three individual definitions. First is the driver's “affective self“ which is our emotions and attitudes when driving. Secondly, is the “cognitive self” which is the thinking and reasoning behind our driving. Third is the “sensorimotor self” which deals with our perceptions, feelings and motor skills.

(ii) Self-witnessing methodology

Self-witnessing is when part of yourself is witnessing a scenario and at the same time thinks aloud the feelings and thinking of the part that is witnessing. This allows you to think aloud and capture your thoughts and feelings so you can later reflect on it. When you verbalize your thoughts and feelings, you can then monitor and evaluate it. To modify yourself as a driver you would use a self-witnessing technique called the AWM approach. First step, A is to acknowledge that you have a negative habit. Secondly, W is to witness yourself doing the negative habit. Third is M which stands for modify. You use M to modify your habit or to train yourself to get away from your habit. Overall, this method allows us observe our mental self. This approach enables to learn from our common mistakes and helps to improve our driving personality.

(iii) Road rage

Road rage is when a driver reacts with anger toward another driver and the anger is expressed overtly and communicated to the other , causing unruly conduct or unsafe behavior. Verbal includes yelling, gesturing, honking and insulting. Quiet road rage involves complaining, rushing, resisting and competing. Finally, epic road rage is cutting drivers off, blocking, chasing, fighting and shooting.

(iv) Aggressive driving legislation

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, some aggressive driving bill have been approved and more are being introduced. This group helps to establish a set of rules or guidelines, we as drivers need to follow. If we do not comply with the bills, we will be punished. Legislative bills collect data to track driver behavior changes objectively using baseline intervention. Aggressive driving legislation tries to determine the specific behaviors that drivers use which will enable law enforcement officials to punish those guilty of violating those specific behaviors. Without the specificity in behavior, we will be unable to convict certain crimes because there could also be a case that states it was too vague to be able to convict the criminal. The overall goal of the legislation is to reduce illegal driving behaviors and be able to protect the general community welfare.

(v) The driver's emotional intelligence

Emotional thinking is subjective, biased and inaccurate. Thinking corresponds to your feelings. Daniel Goleman discovered six components of emotional intelligence that can be learned through practice. They are: How to evaluate a situation and look for alternative solutions and evaluations. How to regulate negative mood shifts. How to empathize with your other side of yourself. How to keep up with your goals despite your distracting and negative frustrations. How to control your negative aggressive impulses. How to look at the situation overall in a positive regard. Emotional intelligence provides an understanding of how anger occurs and how you have choices to analyze the situation. You can either vent your anger which is the wrong choice or deescalate the situation by thinking positive thoughts through rational counterarguments to increase tolerance in your frustration.

(vi) The driver's emotional spin cycle

According to Alyssa Chun, the emotional spin cycle consists of two sides, the positive or the negative side. The positive self includes feelings of self-confidence and enthusiasm since these traits cause positive feelings toward yourself. The negative image includes depression and self-destructive behavior which creates negative feelings toward yourself. Our positive options help us maintain a healthy and happy life whereas the negative represents unhappiness and failure. We all need to customize our behavior in order to keep ourselves positive. The spin cycle turns our thoughts into actions, whether positive or negative. Also, the emotional spin cycle is a phrase that was invented to refer to the idea that our daily emotional lifestyle is a built-in-habit we develop in childhood during our socialization process.

(vii) Newsgroups for drivers

Newsgroups for drivers is a forum which allows various people to discuss their problems or solutions on the web to each other and obtain feedback from various readers. The various people share their experiences and their personal advice to other listeners. It's a community for those people who are interested in driving or have questions about driving or aggressive behavior. It also serves to be a bulletin board where you are able to post your comments or suggestions to other drivers on their problems or experiences.

(viii) Lifelong driver education

Driver education must be started at a young age for children. We are exposed to different forms of driving since we were very young children. We learn good or bad habits from our parents, guardians and whomever we get into a car with. This term of lifelong driver education shows that we should instill good driving methods into each driver throughout each individual's life. We need to teach the drivers to handle their aggression better in different situations.

(ix) Scofflaw

Scofflaw is the tendency to automatically disregard certain traffic laws, regulations, and signs. It's basically law-breaking citizens in any type of environment, doing crimes in the streets or even while driving. Some drivers are compulsively rebellious, since they do not come to a complete stop at stop signs or slow down only when policemen are around. Our aggressive driving culture promotes cynicism about those who create our laws and regulations on the road. We all have a choice to act aggressively or passively when driving in our cars, people who act aggressively by disobeying laws and signs, put out for our safety are committing scofflaw. Scofflaw is not only used in driving but in all types of violations within our society, found on this website.

(x) Left Lane Bandit

Left-lane bandits are hard-headed people who stays in the left lane going only a couple of miles over the speed limit. They end up creating traffic for those who want to get around the people in the right lane and now the left. These bandits think as long as they are over the speed limit, that entitles them to stay in the left lane. These bandits are motivated by stubbornness and even the perverse enjoyment of dominating others by forcing them to line up behind them. The left-lane bandits are also known as “inconsiderate drivers.”

*Most definitions were taken from the textbook or the lecture notes.

4. Autobiographical

The way I drive is somewhat recklessly. I tend to switch into lanes to get passed the slow drivers. I do exceed the speed limit but not enough to feel like I am losing control of the car. I also tend to get mad if someone cuts me off or doesn't say thank you when I let them in front of me. I also get upset when people don't stop at a yield or stop sign. I mutter things under my breath when I feel the other car is "stupid.' I don't stick the middle finger at anyone or cut people off, which is a severe form of aggressive behavior. I also don't drive by the person and yell at them or give them stink eye. With the amount of confrontations and accidents people get into, I don't want it to happen to me. I keep everything to myself within the boundaries of my car.

The media also plays an important roles on young drivers because they learn that driving fast or weaving in and out of cars is the "cool' thing to do. We all watch movies that have car races and chases and we see that the "good' guys never get a scratch or that they are always alright. In ways, this type of action creates a rush in our system telling us to try and receive that "high' when we are driving on the road. We all know it is a stunt created to attract audiences but there are those of us, who want to experience the adrenaline rush for ourselves, pushing ourselves to the maximum limit. I try not to let the media sway my actions and thoughts while driving but somehow since I don't catch myself, I tend to act like the aggressive drivers on the television. They are all multi-tasking or driving recklessly to get to work so that they will be on time.

I think that I learned this type of behavior from my friends and my boyfriend's mother. My friends are more reckless since they have all of the "supped” up cars with the extra boost to get you to go faster. I have been in their cars when they get angry and when they speed. I guess I somehow let them rub off on me. I never realized how mad I get when other cars make me upset. When I first started to drive, I followed the rules with two hands on the wheel and made complete stops at stop signs. I mostly followed the speed limit and did not let other cars "bug” or get to me. Now, I see how my friends react and tend to follow their habits when getting into the car. I will yell in the car if another person upsets me or makes me mad. I will pass slow cars and go kind of fast when passing them showing them I am mad.

It's funny to see how differently I drive from the way my parents drive. My dad is the easy-going type who goes slow and steadily. He takes his time when going to places. He always goes a leisurely pace without caring how fast the other cars are going. He doesn't care when cars cut in front of him or speed pass him since he is going slow. I wish I were more passive like him. My mom is also more like my dad, though she can go fast at times, especially if we are running late. Most of the time, she is good driver who uses her blinkers to signal to be courteous to the other drivers. They both wave thank-you to drivers who let them in. I also do that, which is one good thing I have learned from my parents.

5. Conclusion

This assignment helped me with my driving skills because now I am more aware of what kinds of bad habits I do. I am trying to limit myself to eliminate my aggressive habits. This is will be very useful when I get on the road, since I will show more courtesy toward my fellow drivers, hoping that this new style will rub off onto them and make them see that being nice is better than driving hostile. The assignment also make me think twice before opening my mouth to say mean things to another driver next to me. I feel that I am more aware to catch myself in the act to help me realize my faults in driving. I also see how I am rubbing off onto my brother and I do not want him to start driving aggressively. My driving personality has also changed because I try to catch myself and think about what I say when I am in the car. I try not to make bad comments out loud since venting your anger is not a good choice to make.

6. Future Generations

I think we need to be able to learn from our mistakes and work on them, creating a better driving experience for everyone. If we don't listen to the advice this class and the information presented in the book gives us, we will be at a loss for our future generations. Each generation will create more and more aggressive drivers, helping this important issue in our society instead of breaking these bad habits.






Dr. James' Website

G20 Class Home Page

Jenny's Home Page

Report 1