Report 1

Being a Driving Buddy

Teaching a Maui Girl to Drive on the Streets of Honolulu

 

Instructions for this report

Introduction

Her first experience

The Second Experience

Her Reaction

Suggestions For Future Generations

Epilogue

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Introduction

    In Psychology 409 we are required to do two projects.   One of which is the Driving Buddy project.  In this project we are to help a person into doing a driving personality make-over.  Then we are to comment on how they are driving and then make observations.  They are free to gove their own input to the situation.  This need to hapen for two sessions.  Then we are to take what we have observed and the data given to us by the project and apply it to our knowledge of Psychology.  This is not an easy task.  I have done this project and am telling you that it could lead to some serious repercussion if not carefull administered.

 

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Her First Experience

My girlfriend Jen was raised on Maui and has not adapted herself to driving along the busy highways and streets of Honolulu.  She is a student at UH Manoa and has no real need for a car since I am her main form of transportation.  She is very timid on the highways and often travels below the speed limit and she refuses to switch lanes. 

    We used my car which is a '95 Toyota Camry V6.  It has enough power but is still sluggish enough to be considered a family car.  Before we started I explained the procedure of this make over and what would be included.   She seemed rather hesitant when she found out that I would be observing her driving habits and commenting on them.  She suddenly became sel-concious when she also found out that I would be posting the results up on the net.  I assured her that she would have nothing to worry about and that this would all be done in a professional manner.

    Jen is natrually a very cautios driver and she was especially so when I was watching her.  She became nervous as I had my note book and pencil out.  I told her to relax and started up a conversation with her.  That put her more at ease but it had the effect of distracting her from driving.  It should be noted that she does not drive that often.  She only drives when I let her use my car which is on average of about once a month.  Other than that she is used to being my passenger if she has somewhere she needs to go. 

    I am a driver that likes to squeeze out every little MPH that the law allows.  I often set my cruise control about 4 miles over the speed limit.  I rarely am concious about how fast I am going although I do drive defensively.  So sitting here in the car with Jen was rather frustrating.  She did not switch lanes or go above the speed limit.  It was very enlightening to finally be in the passenger seat.  I found that I was more agressive than her in terms of driving.  She soon got annoyed at my constant pleas to speed up or switch lanes.  I could say that Jen is too cautious but that would be an understatement.   She has an adversion to taking any risk at all.

    But what I was surprized at was her demanor towards other drivers.  Her favorite word that day was @$$hole.  She must have called ten drivers that during the course of the experiment.  But the reason why those drivers cut her off repeatedly was because she was frustrating them also.  She was not travelling with the flow and therefore she was bound to upset a few drivers.  I noticed that she got more dirty looks in less than an hour than I get in a whole week.   I concluded that her driving behavior is detrimental to her and others around her.   She causes those around her to become more hostile because they get frustrated causing an increase in the other driver's agressive behavior.  I found this to be interesting and have never heard of something like this being discussed before.  But I often hear about in jokes and how people don't like to be stuck behind elderly citizens.  

    So what I proposed to her is that I would teach her to be more courteous to other drivers by learning how to be more with the flow.  She contended to be that she should not have to drive outside what she felt she was comfortable with.  I agreed but I also asked her to try it this way. 

    So I began by instructing her how to drive so that she could keep up with the other motorist.  I said to her that she needs to use her rear view mirror more and be more aware of the people around her.  She was not used to doing this and found it hard to constantly look at her rear view and side view.  I taught her how to shift her gaze without taking her eyes off the road.  She did not really know about blind spots before I told her about it.  I also taught her how to switch lanes effectively and without problem.  She was soon very good at all of these techniques but she seemed more agitated because she was doing something out of the normal driving routine for her.

    I constantly told her to speed up and go at least the speed limit if possible.  She resisted and I persisted.  We soon got into a fight and the experiment came to an end. 

 

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The Second Experience

    With a little tender loving care and a lot of kissing ass I was able to convinve Jen to give the driving make-over thing one more shot.   She said that I was being too agressive on the road and I told her that she was not being agressive enough.  I laid down my evidence and she agreed that people do cut her off more than me and give her more stink looks than me.  So with that she was ready to give it another try.

    This time I kept track of the amount of dirty looks Jen got and the number of times people cut her off compared to her driving make-over experience.  On her last outing she racked up impressive score of 13 dirty looks and 10 car which cut her off.  I consider cutting someone off when they don't signal or they continue to proceed into your lane even though you are not letting them go or there is no space for them to cut in. 

    To keep things on the level we went on a Friday at around 2pm.  The traffic was light.  This was similar condition to the first experience which happened on a Wednesday at 3:30pm.  So I think that the rusults of this experiment in modifying driving behavior fits and the variable have been reduced as much as possible.

    She continued to proceed cautiously but I pleaded with her to raise her speed by just a few mile per hour.  The before and after shot could not have been more noticable than in those first few minutes.  She was going rather slow and four cars abruptly cut in front of her to get ahead of the rest of the pack.   After my instruction to go with the flow there were no more people cutting her off and the air around the car suddenly became less tense.  It seemed to me that other drivers around her seemed more at ease with her following closer to the car in front of her.  I am not sure why this is.

 

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Her Reactions

    When asked about her two driving experiences she was quick to state that she hates having someone telling her what to do and how she should do it.  She said that she hated it even more that I was the one to be doing it.   She felt that she was submitting her will to mine and that she felt uneasy and frustrated because she was not able to do the things I wanted her to do.

She also stated that things were easier the second time around.  She said that it was because she knew more of what to expect.  She also mentioned tha tdriving on Maui was easier than on Oahu.  Most of Maui is covered by just two lane highways.  That is one lane coming and one lane going.  So there is not that much of a chance to change lanes.

    She reacted to the fight that we got into that ended our first session by saying that it felt weird to get inot a fight over some stupid experiment.  But then she realized that her driving was the cause of the other people's behavior.  Somehow her driving was antagonizing other drivers and causing them to react to her overly cautious driving. 

    I know what I am saying goes against what Dr. Driving says but maybe we all need driving make-overs.  Not just the agressive drivers. 

 

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Suggestions For Future Generations

    Maybe there should be more research done on more passive drivers and their effect on other drivers.  As it was shown in my report not only agressive drivers affect driving patterns on the driving public.  It is just that agressive drivers get into more accidents and cause more harm so they are an easy target to a big problem.  I am not preaching that defensive drivers are bad, all I am saying is that maybe defensive drivers contribute to the problem more than they are given credit for.  

    We all need to be careful on the road and we all need to be aware of what is going on around us.  But when you are overly cautios you are only taking into account what you feel comfortable with and not taking into consideration the other drivers around you.  Sometimes we are in a rush and it would be nice if those around you are compassionate to your needs and just get out of your way. 

 

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Epilogue

    I learned a lot from this experience.  I found some evidence that needs to have furthur research done on it.  It is very interesting if the implications of this little experiment prompt furthur research and that research has far reaching effects.  I know that agressive drivers contribute a bulk of the problem on the road but overly cautios and defensive drivers only help to make the problem worse.   A lot needs to be done to make our roads safer for all of us.

 

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