Report # 2
My Driving Personality
Instructions for this report found at
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says, about 66 percent of all traffic fatalities annually are caused by aggressive driving behaviors, such as passing on the right, running red lights and tailgating. The number of drivers on the road is also increasing. As of 1990, 91 percent of people drove to work. Psychology 409a, is taught by Dr. James Leon, co-founder of the term “Driving Psychology.” In February of 2004, I completed a paper that gives the definitions for many of the concepts used in Driving Psychology. A link to this paper, titled Driving Psychology: Theory and Definitions can be found at http://www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/409as2004/bkomine/report1.htm.
Another task that I completed while doing this paper was a self analyzation of myself as a driver. This assignment has helped me to see that I can be a dangerous driver sometimes. My driving personality is very aggressive because I enjoying moving past the other drivers, but at the same time I also don’t wear my safety belt. In my view half of the battle is already won because I have recognized my faults and I have the opportunity to change my ways before they get worse. I think that the driving psychology approach to road rage can be useful towards helping people realize their bad driving habits and the ways that they can effectively change their habits. Hopefully this approach can make a safer driving environment for everyone.
In the book Road Rage and Aggressive, by Dr. Leon James and Dr. Diane Nahl, there are many checklists that evaluate your driving personality. The first checklist that I completed is titled “Winning and Losing in the Driving Game.” Some questions that were posed are, how many cars you passed, how many times you were the leader of the pack, and how many cars you passed in a long line before cutting in. The authors state that even for the smallest events we keep track of supposed insults or when someone’s action forces us to do something. We gain or lose points in this driving game by counting cars we passed, or how fast we get to our destination, for example.
Another checklist that I enjoyed taking is titles “Aggressive Thoughts and Feelings.” This checklist focuses on different areas of driving from fantasies of retaliation and revenge to impulsive and reckless driving. Some of the topics that are touched on in this checklist are feelings that I encounter everyday. Topics such as feelings of retaliation and revenge when someone is tailgating, someone cuts in front of you, and pedestrians and cyclists in general. On the other hand there are also supportive driving checklists in the book that ask a driver questions about making room for another car and kind thoughts about pedestrians.
These checklists helped me to realize that I have behavior that is not very supportive of other drivers around me. Sometimes I feel very vindictive or revengeful towards other drivers because I feel they don’t respect me as a driver. These types of checklists allow a driver to analyze their behavior and bring them to the realization that his or her habits are either positive or negative from a supportive driving standpoint. What I plan to do now is to effective change my habits by changing the thinking that underlies them.
“Aggressive driving is not solely how someone operates a vehicle, it is also a mental state, a readiness to interpret the acts of others in a hostile way and a desire to respond in kind. (Road Rage and Aggressive Driving, 133)”
When a human being is driving down the road and another driver cuts in front of them, whether on accident or on purpose, the driver doesn’t have an immediate response. Instead, emotions are activated and the driver begins to think badly, in most cases about their fellow driver. The result of these emotions is what is called road rage and aggressive driving. Emotions and cognitive thinking are the root of road rage and aggressive driving. In order to remedy these types of behaviors, the base of the problem need to be addressed. Research done with hundreds of drivers lead Dr. James and Dr. Nahl to develop a three-step program to help drivers develop better emotional fitness on the road.
The first step is to acknowledge that every driver, including yourself is in need of “traffic emotions education”(James and Nahl, 133). The tools that I used to acknowledge my driving behaviors were the different checklists that I took throughout the book. The checklists made me realize that my driving behavior was very emotional and negative. The second step is to act as an actual witness to your actual behavior while driving, while actually observing your thoughts, feelings, and actions to identify the type and degree of aggressive and road rage that you practice. I did this task in a series of ten 30 minute drives from Mililani Mauka to the University of Hawaii on various dates throughout the semester. The third step is to try to modify or change your negative behaviors, one at a time, and continue this throughout your driving career.
As measurement for my experiment I decided to measure, negative impulses or thoughts in my mind as well as negative actions, whether they were verbal or not.
During the witnessing sessions, I was focusing on driving normally, and exhibiting my normal driving behaviors, so that the data would be accurate. During the modifying sessions, I gave a full effort to change my behaviors, starting with the thoughts and emotions that I would feel.
During the witnessing sessions, I had a total of 36 Negative impulses, 18 instances of Verbal actions, and 26 instances of Non-Verbal actions. During the modifying sessions, I gave a full conscious effort to change my behaviors. For example, I tried to increase the distance between myself and the vehicle in front of me, signal sooner before changing a lane, think positively about other drivers, and avoid angry emotions when other drivers perform actions that I don’t agree with. I have to admit that it wasn’t an easy task, but my numbers went down significantly.
During the modifying sessions, I had a total of 20 negative impulses, 11 verbal actions, and 14 non-verbal actions.
During my research I noticed one simple concept. When I actively thought about my driving behavior, it was really easy to change around what I wanted to change. When I didn’t consciously think about the process of changing my behaviors or eliminating them, I would just continue on with my selfish driving behaviors. I call this my emotional intelligence. A driver emotional intelligence is the ability for an individual to know what makes them emotionally unstable and the process of “cooling down” those feelings when they arise. Having a good emotional intelligence is having a good understanding of how your own anger escalates, how your venting keeps it going, and how to “cool down” these feelings by being positive. When you force yourself to be positive, your negative feeling slowly disappear. Dr. James and Dr. Nahl describe six components of emotional intelligence that can be learned. When I chose to think in this mindset, I experienced a total change in my driving behaviors.
· How to reappraise a situation and look for alternative explanations
· How to self-regulate negative mood shifts
· How to empathize with “the other side”
· How to persist in a plan despite distracting frustrations
· How to control or neutralize one aggressive impulses
· How to think with positive outcomes
My research shows that when a driver consciously thinks about his thoughts and actions, and gives an effort to change, then positive results
will prevail. As a result of this research, I have come to the conclusion that for me to become not only a better driver, but also a safer driver, I need to consciously think about my actions and improve my emotional intelligence about what is going on within me. I feel that I have learned new values about driving and I must practice these to become a role model for other drivers, including my loved ones.
Throughout the duration of this assignment, I noticed many problems in my everyday thinking. I realized how much of a competitive person I am and how well I have been able to hide this characteristic from myself. While is was self-witnessing my own behaviors I began to see how this attitude was detrimental to myself as a driver. All I had to do to change was to consciously think about changing my behaviors and my thinking to a more positive role. My driving personality has made a vast improvement, even though it is still in the early stages of change. In the beginning of the semester, I didn’t really respect the whole concept of being a supportive driver. Now I realize the effect that my driving has on the people around me, especially the young siblings that I drive with. I don’t want them to learn the same negative habit that I carry with me. Hopefully I can maintain this positive attitude as a supportive driver for a long period of time.
Good luck to anyone reading this material. Getting educated in this field is a positive step in making a change in your driving personality. Remember
that driving a vehicle is an extension of yourself as a person. What kind of impression are you leaving on other people?