Being a Driving Buddy--What it's like

How to really test a friendship.

 

What others think of driving buddies?

What was it like searching?

Mini-driving makeover

Debriefing

Epilogue

 

 

Instructions for this report

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What others think of driving buddies?

Finding a needle in a hay stack

Well I have found a few things on the topic of driving buddies and driving makeovers. The way that I found these pieces of information on the topic of driving buddies was to search Prof. James' homepage. I used two different methods to find the information on driving buddy and driving makeover. The first method I used was to look at the "INDEX OF ALL DOCUMENTS on this site." It took me a while to search the whole site to find something on the topics that I was searching for, I don't think that this was the best way to find information on this site. This method might work for smaller sites, but the shear size of this site makes that impossible.

Here is an article that I found using this method.

Report 4:Driving Personality Make-over by Glenna Cauble

The next method that I used was faster and more efficient then the other method. I used the search command that can be found at this site. All I had to do was to type in the topics that I wanted to search for and it looked over the entire site and found subject that was related to my topic.

Here are a few articles that I found using this method.

An Evaluation of the Generational Curriculum and Driving Personality Makeovers by Christy Forsythe.

 

Cruisin' the Traffic Psychology Files by Artemio Baxa

Report 4: What is a Driving Personality Make-over? By Shelly Secretario

After finding this information I had a better understanding of the concept of a driving makeover and a driving buddy. I think that this will aid me when I have to do a driving makeover on someone because I will have the knowledge (information found in these articles) to help the person with their "bad driving behavior."

What it was like searching?

Instant gratification

After searching for information on my topic on Prof. James' homepage, I have come to the conclusion that technology is a wonderful thing. If I didn't have the search engine on the page I would have never found any information on the topic. Otherwise it would have taken more than the 30 minutes for me to find the information that I was looking for on the topics of driving buddy and driving makeover. I guess this speed of information transfer is one of the factors that make the Internet an appealing tool to many of its users. The speed and ease of use lets the user find articles from libraries or archives that are too far from the users' home to be access in person in real life.

Mini-driving makeover

Seeing yourself as others see you

Here is a quick Bio of the person that I did my mini-driving makeover on.

Sex: female

Age: 26

Marital Status: single

Live for majority of life: on Oahu

Status of transportation: owns car

Alias: Syn

Day 1

On Saturday November 1, 1997 Syn picked me up at my dorm. When I got into her car I started to explain the things we had to cover before we began the mini-driving makeover. I told her that I was going to tell her when I think that she is driving in a way that is considered "bad driving behavior." Syn agreed and I informed her that I wanted her to talk out loud about any feelings or thoughts that she might have while driving. I explained that we would have to drive for a period of at least 2 hours. We then drove out of the University of Hawai'i housing complex and as we turned on to Dole street my friend started to drive well over the speed limit. I then instructed Syn to slow down and to obey the speed limit. As we got on the freeway towards Pearl City I noticed that she seemed to be driving about 10-15 miles over the speed limit.

As we got to the Lunalilo off-ramp a blue truck cut in front of us and my friend started to swear at the other driver. One of Syn's statements were, "You like die or what!" I don't think that the other driver could hear her through his window, but it seemed to make her feel better. I could observe this in her facial expressions. Syn then turned the music up on her radio and changed the CD to a more up beat and pounding song. I then told her that she shouldn't get mad at other drivers because this will only lead to more aggression and anger. I tried to explain that she shouldn't see the act of cutting her off as an attack on her or her car. After hearing this she explained, "What, just let that jackass hit my car!?"

I then noticed that Syn seemed to be paying more attention to the music that was playing on the car's stereo then watching the road. I observed Syn shaking her head to the beat of the music and tapping the steering wheel. I was amazed that we didn't cut off anyone ourselves, up to this point in our journey.

When we got to the interchange to get on to the H2 freeway, the traffic started to slow down on the on-ramp and I noticed that Syn started to get anxious and jumpy. I think that the slowing of the traffic seemed to bring on these quirks. When we got on the H2 the traffic started to return to normal and the tension seemed to leave her. Syn then changed lanes without using her blinker and it didn't seem to affect her. I informed her that she should always use her blinkers when she changes lanes because it will reduce the chance of accidents and it won't offend other drivers. She just turned to me and held up her hand in front of my face.

Syn continued to drive in the same style for about 15 minutes. During this time period I noticed that she didn't go below 10 miles over the speed limit. At one point I noticed that we were going about 75 MPH! I then told her that we have to slow down. Syn then turned to me and said, "Just be quiet and let me drive." I told her that I have to comment on the things that I see that can be considered "bad driving behavior." We then took the Mililani off-ramp on our way to the north shore via Wahiawa and Haleiwa.

As we approached the Mililani Town off-ramp I noticed that the car was edging to the left side of the lane. I told my friend that she should drive in the middle of the lane. Syn then jerked the wheel to correct and the car jerked suddenly and moved towards the right side of the lane. I looked to my right and I saw that the car that was next to us slowed down and moved to the lane to the far right. I then told my friend that her dangerous behavior made the other car change lanes. She then replied, "Like I care!"

The rest of the ride down to the north shore went rather well, we didn't cut anyone off and the only traffic violation that was committed was driving over the posted speed limit. All the while Syn talked about her job and how she was going to go drinking later that night. I observed that when people talk out loud they don't really seem to censor themselves and any ideas or thoughts just seem to come out of their mouth. I enjoyed the journey that I took into the mind of my friend.

When we arrived at the Waimea Beach Park we tried to park in the parking lot, but we couldn't find a parking space. This brought a new round of anger and swearing because of the lack of parking. I tried to calm her down, but it didn't seem to help in stopping her from her swearing. We finally got a parking space and this seemed to calm her down in an instant. It was like she took a sedative and it had just taken affect.

When we left the park on our way home I started to tell Syn that she must try to drive within the posted speed limit. After hearing this Syn turned to me and said, "Do you want to walk home? Or do you want to shut your mouth and sit there?" I looked around and noticed that we were in the pineapple fields before Whittmore Village, so I just shut my mouth and sat in the chair. For the rest of the ride I didn't say anything else to Syn, but I didn't take notes on her driving for the rest of the trip. She still continued to drive above the speed limit, but she seemed to pay more attention to the road and less to the music that was playing on the stereo.

I then got out of the car and asked when we could do the second day of her mini-driving makeover. Syn looked at me and said, "Yeah right!" I then shut the door and she drove off. A few days later I called Syn and I told her that I have to do the second part of my assignment, she agreed to do it on the next Saturday.

Day 2

When Syn arrived at my dorm to pick me up I instructed her to come to the lounge, so I could tell her what was going to happen during this trip. I told Syn that she must drive according to my definition of "good driving." And she must listen to what ever I say and not to argue and that she will have time after the drive to debrief and talk about the mini-driving makeover.

We then got into the car and pulled out of the driveway. As we started to drive down Dole St. I began to explain the adjustments that I wanted my friend to do to her driving habits. The first is the excessive use of speed over the posted speed limit, and her anger towards other drivers. I also told Syn that there were a few other things that I would address later in the drive. I also informed her that she can still talk out loud if a thought comes to her while she is driving. I noticed that she was trying to grasp some of the new ideas that I had just given her.

As we got on the freeway towards Hawaii Kai I noticed that she kept the speed of the car within 5 miles of the posted speed limit. As we were driving, many cars passed us and my friend said, "I could keep up with them. I hate being passed." While she was saying this I noticed that we started to speed up, so I looked at Syn and she started to reduce the speed of the car. This made me wonder why my friend has such a "need for speed?"

In the area around Aina Haina a car cut right in front of us as we went through an intersection. It surprised me that my friend didn't say anything negative about the other person. Syn then turned to me and said, "Look, see I didn't get mad or anything." And then she smiled and seemed to be looking for some sort of praise from me, so I decided to smile and tell her that she did great. This seemed to help to reinforce this behavior, so I hope that it will happen again the next time another cuts us off. I also told Syn that she should pay more attention to the road and less to the music that was playing on her stereo. This will help her to avoid accidents or any other kinds of incidents.

Well the rest of the drive to Waimanalo beach park was very quiet and nothing really happened. After we got to the park I spent about an hour talking to my friend her driving and the effects that external forces have had on her driving.

Debriefing

Scratching beneath the surface.

I asked Syn who taught her how to drive, and what was the personality of that person? Syn replied, "my father taught me how to drive and I tend to drive like him. He is a very aggressive person and he drives in an aggressive manner."

Syn also informed me that her parents are divorced, so she doesn't get to see her father that often. So I asked Syn if she thinks that aggressive driving is a dangerous action.

Syn replied, "Yes! If people let it get out of hand. I don't think that I am too aggressive when I drive because I tend to swear and yell at people rather than drive aggressively. In this sense, my swearing and yelling is my way of dealing with the situation in a non-confrontational way." She also told me that "this is the way that I deal with everything in my life."

The next question that I asked her is if she pays for her car by herself. Syn told me that she pays for the car and the insurance by herself. And that could also be why she is so protective of her car. She said that, "it is like anything else that is an expensive itemĚ you try to keep it from harm as much as possible."

I then asked Syn if she learned anything from this experience. She responded by saying, "I don't like to have others tell me how to drive my car. And if you ever ask me to do this again, you can forget about it."

Other than that she really had little to say about the driving makeover. We started to talk about my 459 class and Prof. James and his ideas on road rage. She said that she had seen Prof. James on television during interviews and she had an idea on the topic of road rage.

Syn told me that, "I agree with the really violent crimes as road rage, but the smaller things like swearing and yelling are not as dangerous as the other acts."

I tried to explain that all forms of retaliation are forms of rage, but I think that her mind was made up and she wasn't taking in anymore information. Then we ate lunch and swam and returned home, so that I could write this report.

 Syn showed or demonstrated her resistance by swearing and arguing with me, as I tried to inform her on the parts of her driving that needed improvement. It seemed that this negative attitude seemed to have a shielding effect by blocking out my words and ideas that would help to improve her driving. As for hostility I think that the most startling thing that Syn did was to shake her fist at me and ask me to step out of the car. There were other incidents that were smaller in nature like showing me the "finger" and giving me the "stink eye" (term used in Hawaii when someone gives you a nasty look), but this was the most blatant form of defensiveness and hostility that I encountered during the entire trip. I think that Syn showed a general lack of cooperation to the entire activity and it seemed that she was doing this just because of our friendship and not as something that could benefit her as a person.

After talking through the debriefing session with Syn I have come to the conclusion that she is resistant to changing her driving style because of the divorce of her parents. The loss of her father from her everyday life has made the things that he has taught her seem precious to her to the point that she won't give them up. This could be the reason why she resists changing from the aggressive driving style that her father taught her to a more passive and "safe style."

When Syn was verbally threatening me I tried to stay focused and calm, so as not to escalate the situation anymore. I just kept a non-threatening tone and repeated the driving hints that I was giving Syn before her outburst. And I brought my gestures closer to my body, so it wouldn't look like I was lecturing Syn or scolding her. I have learned how to be calm and non-threatening from my job as a resident advisor at the UH dorms. It is a skill that you have to learn quickly because it could be the difference that keeps you from getting seriously hurt by the people that you are dealing with.

I didn't feel hurt or upset by Syn's actions because I have known this person for many years now and I expect some noncompliance. It just helped to show me how people are locked into certain things and there can be no deviation from this one path and I think that driving is one of those things. To get a person to want to change their driving habits takes some kind of change in that person to allow them to be helped by others. It is like a person with alcoholism because no matter how many people will tell the person that they have a problem or that they need help nothing seems to change the person's lifestyle or attitude. Until that person realizes and recognizes that they have a problem and that they need help, they'll never change. I think that this also applies to drivers as well because no matter what anyone else says it is the driver that must choose to change their own driving patterns.

After reading these parts from one of Prof. James' articles Three Domains of Driving Behavior and List of Irrational Ideas During Driving I can see why some people have a hard time giving up their driving styles. Also the reports from generation 6 (the ones that did reports on driving buddies) helped me to see the different forms of resistance. (Gary Uno, Jennifer Kaneshiro, Kristy Kato, Chris Murakami)

I think that this activity could be improved by having more than one person do a driving makeover. This way a comparison can be made from the two people and it will allow the person giving the makeover to maybe have different kinds of drivers. (I.e. passive, aggressive, insecure etc.) The problem that I had was that my friend really didn't want to do this makeover, so she had the wrong attitude from the beginning. If I had done a makeover on someone else, my results might have been different. And maybe the observation period might be extended to 2-3 days as this will give the observer a better chance to observe the subject in "real driving situations" because the subject might try to alter his or her driving patterns to look like a good driver. This would be solved because the driver would be used to the observer and revert back to his or her own normal driving patterns. The other thing is that a video camera could be used along with the tape recorder, so that the driver can see the facial expressions while hearing their out bursts or responses to events while driving. This might help them to better understand the actions that they do that are considered "road rage."

Epilogue

Things to think about

Well if you are reading this I guess that you are a person from one of the future generations to take Prof. James' Traffic psychology class. This portion of my report will be mostly about my experiences writing this paper and my views if any have changed since I started this undertaking. I can say for a fact that my feelings towards other drivers has changed slightly because I don't see them as a threat to my personal safety while driving in my car. This doesn't mean that I don't get upset with other drivers, this just means that it takes a lot more to get me upset at them. For example if someone cuts me off I don't get mad, but if the same person cuts me off 2 or 3 times then I still tend to get upset with that person. I hope to change this, so that I don't feel any anger towards other drivers. I know that this will come after many, many years of hard work and discipline, but I think that this goal is obtainable.

I have acquired more knowledge on the topic of "road rage" and its causes. I hope to use this information to better my own driving and to keep me from becoming a statistic or a number in the column of "road rage."

After observing closely the driving habits of another person, I will have to try to observe my own "bad driving behavior" (I know that I swear and yell at other drivers, but are there other actions that I haven't noticed yet?) or have someone be my driving buddy. This is the only way to get a true idea of the type of driver that you are because many people learn to drive from their parents. This means that people are picking up these "bad driving habits" from the people that are teaching them to drive. In order to fix this problem we have to teach this generation of new drivers and new parents how to drive in a manner that doesn't contribute to "road rage." This means that if I change the way that I drive to a style that is not considered "bad driving behavior" then it will be less likely that I will pass on "bad driving behaviors" to my children when I teach them to drive. The one thing that I have noticed that has changed in my driving is I don't try to run yellow lights anymore and I am more patient in traffic and at stoplights.

Well I hope that the information that I have given you will help you with your reports or your driving. I hope to one day meet you on the road with a smile and wave.

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