How Drivers Communicate With Each Other

What Are We Saying to One Another?

The following report was written by: MaryElizabeth U. Pacheco


Table of Contents



Summaries of Kristin Subia and Andrew Shapiro's Reports

My Course of Study


Methods, Predictions, and Expectations of Communication Between Drivers



Witnessing a Language behind the Wheels



Who? What? How? When? and Why?

Recommendations for a UPC code for Drivers


A Universal Public Communication Code for Drivers

Web Search


Communication Codes for Drivers

Library Catalog Search


Communication Codes for Drivers

Recommendations for the next generations


 Advice I Give to You



My Learning Experience and its cognitive, affective and sensorimotor senses


Driving on the road could be one of the most exhilarating relaxing warm-fuzzy feeling experiences, but on the other hand, it could be the most dangerous experiences as well. I will begin the report with a summary from an article written by a fellow generation student, Kristin Subia, and an article written by Dr. Andrew Shaprio. These articles will provide insight into how drivers communicate with each other. In this report, I will discuss some common situations in which I've observed communication between the driver. I believe it is safe to assume that there is a constant communication exchange that occurs between drivers. Often times this communication is misinterpreted. We communicate through our gestures, the way we drive and the way we respond to other peoples' actions. Actions indeed, speak louder than words.

In the following paragraphs, my methods of study will be explained, followed by my observations of several interactions or lack of. The observations will then be evaluated. I will also provide a recommendation for a communication code among drivers. I will end this report with an epilogue addresses to the future generations

According to Kristin Subia: How Drivers Communicate with Each other, communication is essential for the safety of our driving experience and for the prevention of accidents. Social interaction is constantly occurring between drivers on the road. This constant interaction can be between driver and pedestrian, driver to driver, or driver to passenger. Communication is necessary because it allows the receiver and the sender to know what the situation at hand is. Kristin described common situations in which communication. Communication occurs in the following situations: making room for another in one's lane, yielding to the right of way, changing lanes and racing.

Dr. Andrew Shaprio: The Effectiveness of the Gestural Communications Involving Drivers Requesting the Right-of-Way. In this article, Dr. Shaprio stated that a driver is likely to arrive at a roadway intersection controlled by four-way stop signs. He goes on to say that at these stop signs gestures are exchanged between drivers. The gestures are being exchange for several reasons; one such reason Dr. Andrew pointed out is uncertainty. Uncertainty occurs while driving for many reasons. One simple reason is the lack of communication. Dr. Shaprio summarizes his article in a few simple sentences: "When arriving at an intersection, make the encounter a pleasant experience: Be patient and make the encounter a pleasant experience. Be patient and make your intentions clear by using appropriate gestures."


My Course of Study

Methods, Predictions, and Expectations of Communication Between Drivers


Methods: I will observe and record actions, words, or note gestures that are exchanged between drivers on a recorder. These observation will be conducted in both the afternoon and the evening hours. I will observe such situation while being a driver and a pedestrian.


Predictions: I predicate that communication will often be misinterpreted and communication influences our driving.


Expectations: I believe it is safe to speculate that communication between drivers are often one-sided. I expect that communication influence our driving in both a negative and a positive.




Witnessing a Language behind the Steering Wheels

 My observations will cover two driving situations; overtaking and changing lanes.



Overtaking situation on a 2-lane highway.

Overtaking occurs when a vehicle following a slower moving vehicle, cuts out from behind, crosses the dividing line to pass the slower moving vehicle on the left hand-side.



Day: Tuesday

Date: November 25, 1997

Time: 08:00 am

Behavior Observed: Today, I witnessed a red Ford Mustang overtake a red BMW on Kamehameha Hwy. The red BMW was driven by a middle-aged female, traveling at approximately 45 mph in a 35 mph zone. The driver of the Ford Mustang was a middle-aged male. Upon passing this BMW, the Mustang slowed down along-side the BMW and smiled at the driver then he continued with his overtaking traveling now approx. 50-55 mph.

Method of communication: Smiling



Changing Lanes:


Changing lanes occurs when a driver moves out of their lane to occupy another lane that is either on the left-side or the right-side

Day: Saturday

Date: November 29, 1997

Time: 02:30 pm

Behavior Observed: I observed a Lexus change from the left lane to the right lane on a two-way street. This Lexus was being driven by a fairly young female. I watched as this women turned on her blinkers about 20 seconds before actually changing lanes, I assume that was to inform the on-coming car of her intentions. The on-coming car, a yellow Volkwagon Beatle, driven by a teenage girl, yield and allowed this woman into her lane. I saw the driver of the Lexus wave her hand and the teenager responded with a wave in return.


Method of Communication: a warning of intended to change lanes, and a wave to acknowledge acceptance. 





Who?, What?, How?, When?, and Why?

We as drivers communicate to others whether we know it or not. In my evaluations, I have observed that the use of the blinkers, and a simple wave to acknowledge acceptance is very widely spread. On other days, I noted such transaction or exchange occurring. I have found that majority of the drivers I seen waved to acknowledge acceptance and to inform the oncoming car of their intent to change lanes, pull-out of a stall or allowing traffic to merge into their lane. I have also seen the reverse. I watch a young boy cut-off merging traffic. The driver of the vehicle that was merging gave the other driver the middle-finger. The use of the blinker and the hand wave are very effective methods of communication. Like everything else there in a down-side, but majority of the time a blinker and a hand wave are understood. The function of the doer is to acknowledge or accept the other vehicles intend. I believe to be the case because of the simple common courtesy and the golden rule effect. The function of the receiver is to finish the communication exchange. This completion should eliminate hard-feeling.



Recommendations for a UPC code for Drivers

A Universal Public Communication Code for Drivers

Recommending a UPC code for drivers should begin with the re-introduction of common gestures like the all-time favorite, wave. Others codes could be verbal--many of us understand how to read lips. There are other methods mentioned, but I do not think they are feasible nor do I think they are easy to use while driving, for example the flash cards, or technological communication devices like phones and CB's.


The so-called universal communication gestures like waves, etc. should be taught by example. People learn by modeling. If we ourselves begin to implement these gestures, so we have a community of drivers modeling. Another way these methods of gesturing could be taught is through Quality Driving Circles. The conclusion is if there is to be any UPC then we must start it now and teach, and channel it to every area of driving.

The usefulness of these gestures could prevent some bad vibes between drivers who are courteous and expect to be acknowledged. There is nothing wrong with this expectation.

I believe this method would be very effective because it's already been taught or at least some aspects of it has been learned, but I am not sure exactly how the effectiveness could be tested.



Web Search

Searching for Communication Codes

 I began searching the Internet by means of search engine, Excite, I entered in many different key words like Driver and communication, Communication codes, Driving and cars and communication. The key words that I've entered in did not produce me with the information that I was seeking. Perhaps as this topic becomes more popular or the public gets interested in communication and driving then we will be able to do further research.

The topics that I was successful with were Driving, Driving and courtesy.


Library Catalog Search


After performing the search on the Web, I then proceeded to my search using the University of Hawaii database, however like my previous search, I could not get the results that I was looking or hoping for. The key words that I entered in this search were; Driver and courtesy, Driver communication, Driving and communicating and I found no results.



Recommendations for the Next Generations

Helpful Advice

 My free advice for the future generations. In my opinion, the future generations will become more and more successful with this project. I think that to help improve the project, the students could think of better key words for the research area. Another think they can do is think of different and creative ideas of communication between drivers. I believe this will inevitable improve because of technology and public awareness. Last bit of advice, enjoy completing this project and start communicating with other drivers on the road, with a simple wave or a spoke "thank you"



Learning through Experience

To all the future generations, I would just like to express my appreciation for you enrolling in and participating in these seminars. It's from student like you, that will help to bring about change in our lifestyles and communities. I have discovered from the completing this report a lot about my self. I have learned that it is my responsibility to be courtesy to all drivers no matter what mood I am in, Furthermore, I have learned that if change begins in my than I will see changes in my family, friend, society and the future generation. I would jut like to end this report wishing the best for you. God bless, Remember just a simple wave will go a long way. 











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