The field of psychology has evolved a great deal
since the days at the beginning of the century when the voice of Watson
championed a radical behaviorism that was to exclude the study of inner
activities such as thinking and feeling (Watson, 1924). Skinner's more moderate
approach included the serious attempt to give a behavioral analysis of speech,
its grammatical system, and its sub-vocal verbalizations identified with the
activity of thinking (Skinner, 1957). Since then, the earlier work of Russian
psychologists Vygotsky (1962) and Luria (1961) on the control functions of inner
speech has received widespread attention and acceptance among behaviorists,
neo-behaviorists, and cognitivists. Staats (1975) has worked out
functional-behavioral theories of inner activities that cover what is ordinarily
called thinking and feeling.
Educators and test makers have long used the thinking out loud verbalizations of
college students to study their problem solving abilities (Bloom and Broder,
1950). More recently, Meichenbaum and Goodman (1979) and Watson and Tharp (1985)
have made use of silent verbalizations in the form of self-regulatory sentences
that mediate and control the overt performance of students and clients in need
of greater self-control of their behavior in many areas. Abelson (1981) has
proposed script analysis as a method of reconstructing the cognitive activities
that underlie routine behaviors such as ordering food in a restaurant. Ericsson
and Simon (1984) have described their extensive attempts in protocol analysis
which involves the tape recording of a subject's thinking aloud routine while
engaged in problem solving activity of specific tasks (e.g., solving a chess
Arashiro's comment on her inner conversations
These research and clinical efforts represent
significant advances in the scientific study of the private world of
individuals. The self-witnessing technique introduced in their paper is an
attempt to obtain reliable data on the ongoing events in the private world of
drivers. This psychological aspect of driving has not received attention in the
extensive literature of driving or auto safety.
Teen injured in road rage incident From staff reports
A 53-year-old Montara man was arrested Tuesday on charges that included
inflicting injury on a child following an alleged road rage incident on
Garth Michael Gonsalves was also charged with battery with serious injury
and mayhem following the incident that occurred inside Half Moon Bay City
limits at 5:22 p.m. on Jan. 1 He was taken to the San Mateo County Jail.
According to a Half Moon Bay Police report, Gonsalves struck a
17-year-old boy in the mouth. As a result, the teen received stitches in
both his upper and lower lip.
Police Capt. Michael O'Malley said the confrontation began as the two
drove south on Highway 1 near the Half Moon Bay Airport. They eventually
pulled off the highway near Kehoe Avenue, where the two came to blows.
The case has been forwarded to the San Mateo County district attorney.
O'Malley said Gonsalves could face felony charges. He said the district
attorney would consider whether the teen broke any laws.
Drivers readily discuss many aspects of their
driving behavior. For example, when students in an introductory college course
in social psychology were asked to write an introduction about themselves as
drivers, they spontaneously mentioned various aspects about themselves such as
the following: How long I've been driving; what kind of cars I can drive (gear
shift or automatic); how driving affects my everyday life (its costs, dangers,
frustrations, stress); what images I project as a driver (power, status,
lifestyle); whether I consider myself to be a good or bad driver; whether I like
myself as a driver; how I react to common driving situations; how much control I
have over my driving and my emotions; how my mood changes as a result of driving
episodes; how aware I am of my driving or of driving conditions; how the traffic
went on a particular trip; my driving record (traffic tickets, accidents, near
misses); and some others. These are thus dimensions of discrimination along
which drivers spontaneously monitor themselves, or have the conviction that they
monitor themselves. We may call these beliefs one's self-image as a driver.
Interviews with drivers, or written
self-assessment scales filled out by drivers, are methods for gathering data on
driving behavior, but they yield retrospective data in which the
respondents' recollection of facts is mixed with their self-image as drivers. By
contrast, self-witnessing reports yield data that are not retrospective but
on-going: the driver speaks out loud into a tape recorder at the very time
the emotions, thoughts, perceptions and actions arise spontaneously and
concurrently with the act of driving. Later transcriptions of the tape allow us
to display in concrete and visible terms the overt expressions of feelings,
thoughts, and perceptions that accompanied a particular driving episode.
This method does not claim to obtain a complete and accurate record of the
driver's inner reactions, but rather a sample of these. To insure the adequacy
of this sample, undergraduate students were given practice in how to make
self-witnessing reports in three distinct areas of inner human behavior:
affective, cognitive, and sensorimotor. These three were chosen because of their
theoretical and practical importance in psychology as well as in common sense.
Among Western writers this threefold aspect of the human individual goes back to
Aristotle, and in more modern times, it is explicitly elaborated by Swedenborg
(1743) as the voluntary (my affections), the intellectual (my cognitions), and
the sensory (my sensations). Previous research has shown that they cover a wide
variety of an individual's overt and private life (Bloom, 1956; Krathwohl et.al.,
1964; Jakobovits and Nahl-Jakobovits, in press). Examples will be given to
indicate the scope and method of this approach.
POSTED: 9:06 pm MST January 2, 2008 UPDATED: 7:35 am MST January 3, 2008
A 16-month-old road rage case is finally making its way to court.
On Aug. 26, 2006 James Hawley is accused of driving drunk and chasing a
female driver who honked at him.
The chase reportedly went from an Albuquerque street onto I-25, with
Hawley hitting the driver's car twice, according to police.
3. THE DRIVER'S THREEFOLD SELF
In its modern version, behaviorism is committed
to a unified theory that tries to deal with external and internal aspects of the
self (Staats, 1981; Mischel, 1973). For instance, the concept of personality is
defined in terms of built-up repertoires of basic habits. These are actually
skills and errors that can be modified through further learning. This
acquisition process is going on in three distinct domains of the person:
affective, cognitive, and sensorimotor (or perceptual-motor).
Figure 1 depicts the inter-relationship between these three aspects of
driver behavior as a nested structure. All skills at any level of expertise
contain affective, cognitive, and sensorimotor features. An illustration is
presented in Table 1 based on self-witnessing reports by
drivers. Though the recording of the report is necessarily sequential in that
the driver focuses separately on each domain, in actuality the model assumes
that all three are going on simultaneously.
See Isa's comments on this.
4. The Driver's Affective Self
In the following data segment tape recorded by a student, several dimensions of
affect are discernible in this person's experience during a routine driving
"Oh, no, there's a police car coming up from
behind. I hope he didn't see me driving fast. Besides, I'm not the only one
who is driving fast. If he pulls me over to the side, he has to pull everyone
else over too. I'll be so embarrassed if he pulls me over. Everyone will know
that I was breaking the law."
Content analysis focuses on the "speech act"
value of the components of verbalizations (Searle, 1969; Jakobovits and Gordon,
1974). For instance, "Oh, no" marks an affective stricture or a perception of
doom; it indexes an emotional flooding-out. "I hope" marks a religious affection
or an idealized picture of reality. "Besides, I'm not the only one" bespeaks
guilt and self-justification; it raises the specter of personal catastrophe
expressed in "I'll be so embarrassed... Everyone will know..." A little later
this subject displays affections of condemnation or disapproval when another car
cut in front: "Careless and pushy drivers always do things like that." In
another episode, this person expresses anxiety and fear: "I almost sideswiped a
car which had been traveling in my blind spot. As I was turning back into the
middle lane I was in a state of mild anxiety. Thinking about what could've
happened made me scared." Thus, expressing fear in a driving incident or showing
disapproval of another driver are instances of affective driving behavior.
Two drivers in conflict on YouTube Video
5. The Driver's Cognitive Self
Data regarding this individual's cognitive driving behavior are obtained from
the following entry that was recorded for the same episode:
"I should cut down on how fast I'm driving and
maintain the required speed limit. I am in the middle lane and yet I am
driving like an aggressive person in the left lane. I could be increasing my
chance of becoming a victim on the road. If the police pulls me over and gives
me a ticket it's nobody else's fault but my own. I should follow the rules. I
don't want others to get a bad impression of me and think that I'm a speed
Reasoning about propriety is evident in "I should
maintain the proper speed limit" and "I'm driving like an aggressive person"
which also indicates self-evaluation ("aggressive"). Propriety as well as
morality is involved in the driver's reasonings regarding the self-attribution
of error. ("It's nobody else's fault but my own"), and the entry "I don't want
others to get a bad impression of me" reveals this person's image management
techniques. In the following entry the driver seems to be overwhelmed with the
reasoned consequences of his action:
"I am thinking to myself I could have killed the guy back there. I am so
careless. He must be swearing at me and saying what an idiot I am. I could have
smashed up my brother's car."
Note that this self-analysis includes imagining what the others are thinking,
feeling, or saying ("He must be swearing..."). Thus, reasoning about a driving
situation or attributing an error to oneself are instances of cognitive driving
For this segment of the record, the driver spoke
of the following in connection with the same episode:
"I'll driver at the required speed limit and
get to my destination safely. I am leaning slightly forwad in my seat rather
than my normal slightly reclined position. I have both hands on the steering
wheel rather than my normal one [hand]. And I can feel my temperature rising."
Here the person is giving some details on motor
behavior and the sensation of getting warmer. Some of this information might be
available to an observer of camera ("I am leaning slightly forward in my seat"),
but the meaning of this act would remain obscure without the self-witnessing
report ("rather than my normal slightly reclined position") or would require
complex instrumentation ("I can feel my temperature rising"). Thus, describing
sensations or motor actions are instances of sensorimotor driving behavior.
Video Driving Lesson 10 Reverse Round a Left Corner
Self-witnessing reports of one's private or
subjective world as a driver reveals an agitated world replete with extreme
emotions and impulses triggered by little acts. Ordinary drivers can display
maniacal thoughts, violent feelings, virulent speech, and physiological signs of
high stress. One driver's transcript shows the following entry for the three
domains in connection with a particular indecent:
"My affective behavior is scared, anxious,
fearful, panic stricken, agitated, bothered, irritated, annoyed, angry, mad. I
feel like yelling and hitting. My cognitive behavior is thinking, Oh, no what
is he doing. What's happening. How could he do that. The guy was speeding. My
sensorimotor behavior is that I hear myself saying out loud, S--t! Stupid guy!
I'm breathing fast, gripping the wheel, perspiring, sitting up straight and
slightly forward, my eyes are open and watching straight ahead."
This incident involved a car cutting into the
lane and forcing the car immediately ahead to slam on the brakes causing a chain
reaction; however, no collision occurred. The self-witnessing reports of the
students reveal that each driving trip to campus (average: less than one hour)
is full of incidents of this sort in which near misses occur. Hence it has
become normal and usual for them to experience stress and panic under everyday
driving conditions. Here is another example:
"Affectively I am angry, upset, very
frustrated, revenge seeking, flustered. Cognitively I am thinking, Why can't
you wait and cut after me? No one is behind me, you idiot. No, Jolyn, you
shouldn't follow too closely, he might make a sudden stop. Good, let me hit
him. Why am I upset? What is making me feel this way? What's wrong? Gotta calm
down. Do something with my hands. Figure out what's bothering me.
Sensorimotor-wise I detect heavy breathing, impulsive reckless movements.
Increased pulse. Shaking. Short of breath. Hot. Flushed."
This person later added the following written annotation on the transcript: "I
just got to work. Traffic was terrible and I had a hard time parking. This
made me late. I was rushing around all flustered, but the bar was so empty. I
felt aroused, shaken up, but I could not find the cause. After a while someone
asked, "What's wrong?" I look around; it couldn't'[t be anything in the bar.
The bar was empty. After thinking a while I came to realize that my driving
had put me in a state of arousal."
Self-witnessing reports reveal that driving
episodes can act as mood changers. Some are instantaneous and extreme, lasting
but a few seconds; others affect the mood of the person for hours after the
incident. The following is a summary of the types of negative reactions
frequently mentioned by the witnesses:
Extreme Emotional Reactions: outbursts of anger, yelling, aggressive
gestures, looking mean and glaring, threatening with dangerous vehicle
manipulation, fantasies of violence and revenge against other drivers, panic,
incapacitation, distortion, regressive rigid pattern of behavior, fear, anxiety,
delusional talk against non-present drivers and objects.
See Isa's testimonial.
Extreme Irrational Thought Sequences:
paranoid thinking that one is being followed or inspected, talking out loud to
other drivers who are not within ear shot, script writing scenarios involving
vengeance and cruelty against "guilty" drivers, denial of reality and
defensiveness when a passenger complains of a driver's error, psychopathic
interactions as when two drivers alternately tailgate each other dangerously at
These findings raise an important public issue: What is the mental health of the
more than one hundred million licensed drivers in this country? Research with
the self-witnessing method is needed to assess the generality of these
preliminary findings with college students. We need to map out the behavior of
drivers under varying social and psychological conditions so as to arrive at a
comprehensive theory of driving behavior.
Jan. 2, 2008, 1:01AM San Antonio road rage killing deemed self-defense
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(1) SAN ANTOINO ó In an apparent case of road rage, a motorist shot a driver
to death who threatened him with a baseball bat.
Police said that the shooting just after midnight on New Year's Day
appeared to be in self-defense, so they didn't plan to charge 24-year-old
"It was apparent to us that he was defending himself," said police
spokesman Sgt. Gabe Trevino, who added that the shooter had a license to
carry a concealed weapon.
Correa shot the 24-year-old driver three times with a handgun, a police
report said. The Bexar County medical examiner's office identified the
deceased driver as Tomas Garza.
Correa and several witnesses quoted in the report said that Garza had
maneuvered his Mitsubishi Lancer behind Correa's Chevrolet Camaro around 1
a.m. Tuesday and began driving aggressively, trying to hit the Camaro.
When the cars came to a stop at a traffic light, Garza got out and hit
the Camaro several times with the bat, according to the police report.
Correa told Garza to stop, but Garza began toward him so Correa fired at
him, according to the report.
Witnesses corroborated Correa's account with police.
"I'm still really shaken up. I don't really want to talk about it at
all," Correa told a reporter with the San Antonio Express-News when
contacted at his home.
Self-witnessing reports by drivers reveal that
driving behavior is a complex entity occurring simultaneously within three
conscious behavioral areas of the individual: affective, cognitive, and
sensorimotor. Content analysis of the reports shows the driver to be involved in
the effort to comply to rules (e.g., traffic signs), norms (e.g.,
don't follow too closely), and roles of driving behavior (e.g., I'm a
bully, or I'm a polite driver). In this struggle to comply, three aspects of the
driver's inner world are prominent: compliance in relation to the driver's
feelings (affective compliance), compliance in relation to the driver's thoughts
(cognitive compliance), and compliance in relation to the driver's sensory and
motor responses, such as, sensations, perceptions, motor acts, and overt
verbalizations (sensorimotor compliance). These three domains of compliance
constitute the driver's threefold self. Growth, maturity, or expertise as a
driver will be a function of the driver's threefold self.
The struggle for affective compliance involves the driver's motivation,
character, and conscience; it is a matter of the driver's good will or bad will.
Affective non-compliance to driving rules, norms, and roles engenders driving
behaviors that are irresponsible, dangerous, callous, brutish, and imaginatively
full of violence, bullying, and domineering attitudes or intentions. The
struggle for cognitive compliance involves the driver's rationality and
understanding. Cognitive non-compliance to rules, norms, and roles engenders
behaviors that are irrational, unsafe, rude, petty and full of self-serving
explanations and attribution errors. Sensorimotor compliance involves the
driver's performance efficiency, sensory awareness, and overt verbalizations.
Sensorimotor non-compliance engenders erratic and discoordinated vehicle
operation that increases the potential for accidents; it also allows the driver
to be rude and opportunistic.
Future research might explore the psychological mechanisms that mediate
affective, cognitive, and sensorimotor compliance in driving behavior by
applying to this area what social psychologists have found in other areas of
behavior. For example, Kelman (1958) studied the conditions under which people's
opinions and attitudes are influenced by the actions of others. To account for
his data he theorized three levels of depth in the social influencing process:
(1) obedience, or external compliance; (2) identification, or compliance by
conformity to others; (3) internalization, or internal compliance (that is, by
Applying this model to driving behavior, we can theorize that the driver must go
through three stages of internalization in order to become a fully mature and
safe driver. Stage 1 may be called Driving Obedience and involves
the learning of external compliance in the affective, cognitive and sensorimotor
domains. Stage 2 may be called Driving Identification and involves
learning to conform to appropriate norms of driving such as politeness,
fairness, and rationality. Stage 3 may be called Driving
Internalization and involves the learning of altruistic concerns for other
highway users and taking responsibility for their safety and comfort.
We can then look upon the driver as possessing a threefold self: (1) the
affective driving self, (2) the cognitive driving self, and (3) the sensorimotor
driving self. The content and interaction of these three aspects of the driver's
private world will determine the overt, public aspects of the driver: vehicle
maneuvering, cautiousness, safety record, skill, knowledge, awareness, and so
This seminar on driving
psychology will give you the opportunity to examine driving behavior in detail
by identifying the sub-components of driving habits in the three domains of
behavior: affective, cognitive, and sensorimotor.
The objective of the course is for you to
acquire self-witnessing and self-modification skills in the area of your driving
behavior. Students who don't drive regularly can alter the objective to focus on
witnessing the driving behavior of others and training them to modify their
behavior. Alternately, they can do a report on being a pedestrian or a rider.
Driving behavior is defined along three
interacting domains called "the driver's threefold self." The driver's
"affective self" operates the feelings and motivations we maintain behind the
wheel. The "cognitive self" operates the thinking and reasoning we do behind the
wheel. The driver's "sensorimotor self" operates the sensations, perceptions,
and motor acts we perform behind the wheel.
The driver's threefold self is a joint
product of biology, culture, socialization, morality, and rationality. As children we acquire the driving style
of our parents, other adults, and characters in the media (TV, movies, magazines, cartoons,
commercials). By the time we begin to drive in our adolescence we have been exposed
to years of aggressive driving behaviors in all three domains:
Surveys show that most drivers report
experiencing these negative feelings and acting upon them by driving
aggressively or engaging in road rage behaviors. Take a look at some of the
surveys I have conducted -- they are posted on the Web at:
When drivers reason under the influence of
negative emotions, they tend to misinterpret the intentions of other drivers.
Most drivers admit that they take unnecessary risks when feeling impatient or
enraged, including breaking laws on a regular basis, and driving emotionally
impaired. For example:
going too fast for conditions
following too close
changing lanes without signaling
going through red light
engaging the intersection after the light turned yellow
driving after drinking
yelling obscenities at drivers, cyclists, or pedestrians
darting in and out of lanes
being impatient and taking risks that endanger other drivers and passengers
feeling irrationally enraged at traffic and other drivers
becoming distracted by multitasking behind the wheel
Add your own here:_____________________
Along with Dr. Nahl, we have pioneered the
method of self-witnessing the driver's threefold self. Students in prior
generations have demonstrated that they can apply the self-witnessing method to
themselves. This method consists of the systematic self-observation of one's
emotions, thoughts, and actions while driving. Speaking your thoughts out loud
greatly helps you to become aware of what you're thinking and feeling. The
technique is described in our textbook (Road Rage and Aggressive Driving).
You will be publishing two reports on the
semester as part of your contribution to the generational curriculum on driving
psychology (report 2) and on information literacy (report 1). Thousands of people who navigate the
Web find these generational student reports through Web search engines when they are looking
for topics on driving or information literacy. Your contribution
will contribute first, to yourself for improving your driving personality and
your information literacy skills; second, for
future students who will be reading your reports, and third, for the public at
large. Your research, observations, and conclusions will be beneficial to others
who will read your reports in the ensuing years. Long after you're no longer a
student, your generational reports will still be serving the public.
The self-witnessing technique is well suited for
investigating the psychological mechanisms that mediate driving style. For
instance, analysis of self-witnessing reports can reveal the factors that
influence driving obedience or disobedience to signs and regulations. According
to Kelman (1958) external compliance is mediated by externally applied
reinforcement such as reward for obedience and punishment for disobedience. The
self-witnessing reports of some drivers reveal a preoccupation with 'watching
out for cops' and so-called "speed traps," indicating that obedience to the
speed limit is conditioned to external threat (Stage 1 compliance). One can
hypothesize that a deeper stage of compliance could be achieved through
indentification with other highway users. This would require switching 'locus of
control' of one's driving speed from external threat to a more internal source.
For example, the driver might stay within the
speed limit out of empathy (or sympathy for the comfort of other highway
users), equity (or fair-mindedness in exchanges with other drivers), and
rationality (or objectivity in analyzing a driving incident).
Evidence of this second stage of driving compliance (Stage 2 Compliance) emerge
in the self-witnessing reports as speech acts that reflect concern about the
safety, rights, and comfort of other drivers (e.g., "I better not follow so
close. Don't want to intimidate that driver."). The person may also express
agreement with attitude items such as: other drivers have rights; we must all be
fair to one another; objectivity in dealing with driving exchanges is safer and
more pleasant in the long run; and so on (Stage 2 Compliance).
Even further levels of internalization are theoretically possible as shown by
the work of Kohlberg (1976) on moral reasoning. Applying this approach to
driving behavior, we can expect expressions of mutual concern, altruism, and
religious values in connection with one's driving experiences. Some of the
self-witnessing reports reveal a sense of responsibility in driving which stems
from the driver's conscience and horror of injuring others, either physically or
mentally (e.g., "I felt guilty for cutting in on that driver. They must have
been real scared not knowing whether I was going to hit them or not" or "I keep
thinking how closely I came to hit that man a while back. To think that I could
be the cause of someone's death or injury is real scary to me...").
By Leslie Ann Horgan - The Southland Times | Friday, 04
LESLIE ANN HORGAN/South;and Times/Image ID117823
ROAD RAGE RESULT:
Firefighters leaving the scene of a five-car pileup on
Frankton Rd yesterday.
Police say road rage caused a five-car pileup in
Frankton yesterday, which left two people injured.
The incident happened about 12.15pm on Frankton Rd, near
Sergeant Brian Cameron, of Queenstown, said a "minor road
rage incident" had culminated in two vehicles stopping on
the roadway, forcing the two cars behind them to hit their
A fifth vehicle, a Subaru Sports-wagon driven by a
17-year-old female, didn't stop and hit a Toyota mini-van
taxi that had stopped ahead of her.
"The impact of the crash was sufficient enough to push
the next three vehicles into each other," Mr Cameron said.
The teenager and taxi driver Doug Moore of Queenstown
Taxis were both taken by ambulance to Lakes District
Hospital. Mr Moore suffered a sore neck and minor concussion
and was released later in the afternoon.
The female driver suffered cuts to her face and a broken
arm. She was still being treated last night, Mr Cameron
The other three drivers and two passengers from the taxi
Constable Terry Wood, of Queenstown, said inquiries were
ongoing but initial interviews suggested that an issue
between the first two drivers had been the cause of the
"The first driver said that he stopped because the second
was driving very close behind him," Mr Wood said.
Ray Pike, who with his wife Valerie was a passenger in Mr
Moore's taxi, said the second car had been "tailgating" the
"The car in front was braking and starting off again (to
send a message to the tailgater)," he said.
"I heard my wife scream "hold on" ... and the poor girl
behind us went into the back of us." Mr Pike said that
hitting the 12-seater van was "like hitting a wall" for the
"The girl was bleeding badly from her face and asking for
her mother," he said.
The Pikes were traveling from the airport to their
Frankton Rd home when the incident occurred.
They had been evacuated from Nairobi due to the civil
disorder in Kenya. Sergeant Cameron said that it was likely
that a number of drivers would be facing charges related to
the incident. It was unknown whether the drivers involved
were locals or visitors.
Here is a selection from the articles by
Dr. James and Dr. Nahl that are posted on their Web site at
DrDriving.org The specific address of the document is given below each
Chart or Selection. You will find explanations for them there.
Behavior as Skills and Errors in Three Domains
I've got to be careful here.
Don't want to cut anybody off.
This person looks like he's in a
hurry to get in. I better let him in.
smiling:) Go ahead.
I wish I could give that guy a
piece of my mind.
I don't think people like that
should be allowed on the road
"You stupid idiot, why don't you watch where you're going!"
∑First step: Acknowledging that I have this particular negative habit. (A)
∑Second step: Witnessing myself performing this negative habit. (W)
∑Third step: Modifying this habit. (M)
For example, having picked the item
"feeling regret at my unfriendly behaviors and impulses" for today's trip to
work on, constitutes step 1, because selecting it is
an act of acknowledgment. Then, the driver has to witness this behavior during
the trip. In other words, drivers need to stay alert, maintaining focus on
their emotions as
they drive. As soon as we detect the presence of hostile feelings, we need
it up with sentiments of regret or some form of disagreement with the hostile
feeling. This will serve to weaken the negative affective habit of
entertaining hostile feelings towards other drivers on the road. The normal habit
acquired in our socialization, would be to give in to the
initial hostile impulse, to magnify it, to rehearse it several times. All these
habitual maladaptive procedures need to be interfered with or interrupted by means of the
sentiments of regret that we introject into the event.
This constitutes the modification. When the threestep process is practiced on
repeated trips, the old affective habit sequence gradually weakens and is replaced by a
new positive affective habit sequence. The cyclical process is repeated item by item. It
is apparent from this why driver self-improvement needs to go on on a lifelong
basis, and why social methods of motivation, like QDC groups, are needed to help
drivers to persist in it and not give up.
Car Crashes in Tunnel on YouTube Video
Basic Principles in Driving
Psychology (this is part of
These can be stated as follows:
Driving is a complex of behaviors acting together as cultural norms.
Driving norms exist in three domains: affective, cognitive, and sensorimotor.
Driving norms are transmitted by parents, other adults, magazines, movies, TV.
primary affective driving norms for this generation are:
territoriality, dominance, and competition as a desirable driving style
intolerance of diversity (in needs and competencies of other drivers)
retribution ethics (or vigilante motives with desire to punish or amend)
of impulsivity and risk taking in driving
aggressiveness, disrespect, and the expression of hostility
These affective norms are negative and anti-social. Socio-cultural methods must be used to reduce the
attractiveness of these aggressive norms and to increase the attractiveness of
positive and cooperative driver roles.
primary cognitive driving norms are:
self-serving explanations of driving incidents
lack of emotional
intelligence as a driver
underdeveloped level of moral involvement (dissociation and egotism)
These cognitive norms are inaccurate
and inadequate. Self-training and self-improvement techniques must be taught so
that drivers can better manage risk and regulate their own emotional behavior.
primary sensorimotor driving norms are:
habits (un-self-conscious or unaware of oneís style and risk)
perception (e.g., distance, speed, initiating wrong action)
lapses (in oneís
attention or performance due to fatigue, sleepiness, distraction, drugs, boredom, inadequate
training or preparation)
These sensorimotor norms are
inadequate and immature. Lifelong driver self-improvement exercises are
necessary to reach more competent habits of driving.
Driving norms and behavior can be changed by socio-cultural management
techniques that create in the driver a desire for change, by weakening negative
norms and strengthening positive norms of driving. Since driving is a habit in
three domains of behavior, driving self-improvement is possible and effective in
improving this habit. Specific elements in each domain
must be addressed in recognition of the fact that driving consists of thousands
of individual habits or sub-skills, each of which can be identified, measured, and
improved, on a long term basis.
Drivers maintain strong resistance to externally imposed restrictions and
regulations so that these methods alone are not sufficient to create real
changes in driver behavior. Socio-cultural methods of influence need to be used,
such as QDCs (Quality Driving Circles). Driving Psychology uses socio-cultural
methods that act as change agents. Group dynamic forces are powerful influencing
agents that can overcome driversí resistance to change. This is achieved by
group activities that focus on this resistance in an explicit way, and
afterwards, are put into conscious practice through follow up self-witnessing
activities behind the wheel. These informal groups are called QDCs (Quality
Driving Circles) and their function is to exert a long term or permanent
socio-moral influence on the driving quality of its members. This positive
influence is exerted by members on each other when they adhere to a Standard QDC
Curriculum, as approved by designated safety officials or agencies on a regional
or national basis. The QDC Curriculum is created through the principles of
Driving is a semi-conscious activity since much of it depends on automatized
habits acquired through culture and experience over several years. Thus, the
driverís self-assessment is not objective or accurate, until trained in
objective self-assessment procedures.
Driving inherently involves taking risks, making errors, and losing emotional
self-control. Thus, drivers need to be trained in risk taking, error recovery,
and emotional control under emergency or provocation conditions.
Obtaining a driverís license cannot be considered the end of driver training.
Continued driver training in the form of guided lifelong self-improvement
activities is essential for acquiring new skills. These new skills are needed as
driving gets more complex with technology such as managing car audio devices ,
reading maps on screens , using computers , note taking , talking on phone or
radio , keeping to a schedule , eating, etc. The
Standard QDC Curriculum (Quality Driving Circles) needs to be kept up-dated
continuously and the latest additions are to be made available to all
functioning QDCs in a region. These up-dates are to focus on new developments
that technology brings to vehicles and roads, all of which require the
acquisition of new skills by drivers.
Future research may investigate the conditions
which foster the greater internalization of compliance in driving behavior. This
may be done by having drivers give self-witnessing reports under various
independently manipulated situations, such as: driving in the right lane vs. the
left lane; driving to work regularly (going with the traffic) vs. by watching
the speedometer and staying within posted speed limits; driving alone vs.
driving with one or more friends; driving in heavy traffic vs. light traffic;
driving while in a hurry after a quarrel with someone; and so on. These
independently manipulated experiential contrasts will reveal how a driver's
feelings, thoughts, perceptions, verbalizations, and actions (the dependent
variables) are influenced by highway conditions such as traffic density, or by
mental states such as feeling pressured or happy (the independent conditions).
Staats (1981, p. 245) has explicitly recognized the possibility of designing
experiments in which affective and cognitive states are manipulated as
independent variables to study their effects on other cognitive-affective
behaviors as dependent variables.
In a pilot project, students did a field project in which the intervention )or
independent manipulation) was to drive within speed limits for one week. The
dependent measures were self-witnessing reports in the affective, cognitive, and
sensorimotor domains of their driving behavior (threefold self). Several
students reported extreme paranoiac feelings and thoughts (e.g., "Everybody is
giving me the stink eye for holding them up. They are going to attack me, ram me
off the road") -- which did not appear in the baseline records while the student
were driving regularly (by keeping up with traffic). This type of
baseline-intervention design is quite flexible and productive if coupled with
random assignment of subjects to predefined conditions to allow for statistical
tests of significance.
Finally, the development of a driving theory based on self-witnessing reports
will make it possible to construct a classification scheme or taxonomy that can
help identify the components of driver behavior from the perspective of the
driver's world. Such an inventory may be useful for driver assessment and driver
education and can provide norms or expectations of driving skills and errors in
the affective, cognitive, and sensorimotor areas of behavior. For instance, a
driver's self-witnessing report may be analyzed by counting the presence of
affective errors (e.g., "I was so mad I didn't care if I was going to hit
him or not!"), cognitive errors (e.g., "I figured there is no speed limit
in this parking lot cause I don't remember seeing any speed limit signs
here..."), and sensorimotor errors (e.g., "I lowered my window and yelled
at him, 'You stupid idiot.'").
A driver's error score can thus be obtained to
evaluate the effect of various intervention programs for driver improvement. Or,
error patterns may be correlated with demographic or psychological
characteristics of drivers (e.g., men vs. women, or various age groups). These
types of data may be valuable for efforts in the modeling of driver behavior,
especially those involving higher control mechanisms which include motivational
and trait related aspects. As Michon (1985, p.488) has argued, driver research
should go cognitive (and affective) since human mobility is embedded in a
psycho-social environment as well as a technological one. Feelings, thoughts,
and perceptions are as much traffic and transportations issues as road
conditions and traffic flow.
THE COST TO SOCIETY OF REPTILIAN
fatalities (500,000 per decade)
injuries (25 million per decade)
dollars (250 billion per year)
long-term loss of health
increased stress levels in daily life (hassles and
fear and threat on streets and highways
weakening of our moral IQ (condoning cynicism and
lowering of our emotional IQ (reptilian driving)
promotion of learned negativity in public places
leading to automotive vigilantism and widely deployed electronic
lowered productivity when arriving at work mad and
learned cynicism (aggressive driving norms and
disrespect for regulations) leading to alienation and disunion among
greater air pollution caused by the emotional use
of the gas pedal ( getting less gas per mileage)
breeding the next generation of aggressive drivers,
continuing the cultural cycle (our children in the car imbibing our
cynicism and aggressiveness
I'm a 16 year
old boy and I was driving in tandem with a friend who is unfamiliar with driving
in that area and on the freeway. It was almost midnight and we were driving to
our homes. I had a friend from work who invited us to a party but we couldn't
find his place so we drove back. I lost the address and all we did was drive
around then started to go home. We did not have anything to drink and nobody had
taken any drugs.
We got onto the
freeway and while we were driving, a black SUV pulled up really fast and close
behind my friend's car-who was in the center lane. I was in the left lane and
wanted to stay close to my friend so he would not get lost. The SUV swerved
around my friend's car to the slow lane and went past really fast. He started to
swerve around all the other cars ahead of us and we thought he was gone.
A little bit
later he was held up in the traffic and my friend and I were both in the left
lane and passed him. My friend and I had to change to another freeway that had
only two lanes for a while. The SUV took the same exit and my friend and I
thought it was funny that he was behind us and we slowed down in both of the
lanes (stupid plan). He pulled up behind me and then behind my friend and began
pointing a gun. We got really scared and did everything we could to get away. He
followed us really fast but never tried to pass us. This went on for miles. We
were all swerving through traffic. I think I was driving about 90 miles an hour.
Sometimes we thought he was gone and then we would see that he was just kind of
hiding behind other cars. We got close to our exit and I started to flash my
lights and honk at my friend so that he knew to take the exit. When we took the
exit we saw the SUV follow us then pull over on the off-ramp.
When we got
onto the road we were met by lots of police cars.
We ended up with tickets for reckless driving and we are going to plead not
guilty. We think that this driver
did something illegal and could have caused an accident. We know that we were
stupid and added to the problem but we think that he's an adult and he was the
one who was making it into a battle. What do you think? Do you have any
suggestions how to handle this? Thanks."
The Chart below
identifies the specific chain of steps that together make up this road rage
incident. There are 13 bad driving behaviors these two teenagers performed in
sequence, as evidenced by their own description of the events (middle column).
Your comments should answer two questions: (a) how does each step contribute to
their trouble (focus on the bold words in column 2), and (b) how could they have
backed out of it at each step by doing something else. Have your friends or
family members also complete the exercise, then get together to compare and
discuss everybody's solutions. Doing this exercise will strengthen your
emotional intelligence as a driver by making you more aware of how your behavior
influences other people's behavior on highways.
Scenario Analysis of Teen
Drivers' Unrecognized Road Rage Behavior
Emotionally challenged behavior
Segment from the letter
State how each step contributes
Suggest smarter behavior.
1. Playing games on the
"I'm a 16 year old boy and I
was driving in tandem with a friend."
2. Driving after curfew
"It was almost midnight"
3. Losing the address and going
"I lost the address and all we
did was drive around then started to go home"
4. Driving abreast occupying
center lane and fast (left) lane
"I was in the left lane and
wanted to stay close to my friend--who was in the center lane"
5. Blocking the way so the SUV
had to pass in the right (slow) lane
"SUV pulled up really fast and
close behind my friend's car-who was in the center lane"
6. Discounting the seriousness
of the incident
"we thought he was gone"
7. Not realizing they were
doing something provocative
"My friend and I were both in
the left lane and passed him"
8. Not realizing that the
incident has now escalated into a potential duel
"The SUV took the same exit and
my friend and I thought it was funny that he was behind us"
9. Finally realizing this is
trouble but still acting like they're in a duel, escalating the fight
instead of backing down
"we slowed down in both of the
lanes (stupid plan). He pulled upÖand began pointing a gun."
10. Engaging in reckless
driving--weaving through traffic at high speeds getting away from a chase
"We got really scared and did
everything we could to get away. He followed us really fast but never tried
to pass us. This went on for miles. We were all swerving through traffic. I
think I was driving about 90 miles an hour"
11. Engaging in further
provocative behavior by ignoring its potential effect on the pursuer
"I started to flash my lights
and honk at my friend so that he knew to take the exit"
12. Trying to diffuse their own
responsibility in the sequence of events, as a sort of denial
"We think that this driver did
something illegal and could have caused an accident"
13. Hiding behind inadmissible
excuses, avoiding to admit what they did wrong, and refusing to think
objectively about it
"We know that we were stupid
and added to the problem but we think that he's an adult and he was the one
who was making it into a battle"
The above is from our textbook: Road Rage and Aggressive Driving (Chapter 9) by Leon James and Diane Nahl:
Stress Factors Experienced by Female Commercial Drivers in the Transportation
Industry, Tracey M. Bernard, Linda H. Bouck, Wendy S. Young. American
Society of Safety Engineers (retrieved February 2005): www.cdc.gov/elcosh/docs/d0300/d000391/d000391.html
This means you need to find your own article or material to
present. Check for materials on the Web and in the electronic resources
directory of the UH library online. Once you have your article, email it to
Dr. James for approval.
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