Nancee Aki's Report 1Report 1: Initial Self-Assessment as a Driver


(a)Read the Generation 1 Traffic Psychology files and make up a list of 5 subjects in traffic psychology, as discussed by the students (e.g., tailgating, speeding, lane switching, aggressive driving, gender bias, attribution errors, becoming a reformed driver, driver personality makeover, affective taxonomy, and so on). For each of the 5 subjects, try to find several references, not just one or two. (i.e., students discussing that subject).

(b)Describe how you found them and make links to the originals.

(c)Summarize what the originals say about that subject.

(d)Evaluate each and compare then to eachother.

(e)What is their significance to traffic psychology, as you see it.

(f)Describe your own self-observations of your driving for each of the 5subjects (results, conditions, reactions).

(g)Conclusions for yourself and for traffic psychology.

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The first subject I decided to explore is that of tailgating. I approached this subject by finding resources in the generation one traffic psychology homepages and indexes. By skimming through the psychology 459 class lab reports I found that tailgating was an issue discussed by all members of the class due to the fact that it was their week 12 assignment. All of their reports addressed the legality, morality and spirituality of the act of tailgating. I found this to be an interesting approach to tailgating because by breaking it into several different facets it analyzes this behavior further.

In Jae Isa's report, she mentioned their class definition as well as the Hawaii State Driving Manual's definition of tailgating. However, she also mentions the definition most of us would use, simply, "tailgating is driving extremely close to the car in front" of us. I suppose this is true, many of us do not really obey by the statutes defined by the driver's manual, instead we live by our own. Her report continues by addressing the hazards that continual disregard of the law could incur. She appears very concerned with others and the consequences that they may face if they should become a victim of a tailgator. As for Shane Akagi, he fears being tailgated and dreads the day that he will be rear ended by a careless tailgator. I don't blame him, being tailgated and pushed to speed up is an aggravating factor while driving. Josephine Allen has the best, straight to the point, philosophy on the legality of tailgating, "...laws were put there for a reason." Short and sweet, laws are put in place to protect us and insure our safety. I'm not saying all laws actually help us, but maybe some of the traffic laws do.

As for the morality of tailgating the jury is in consensus. Every report that I looked at felt that tailgating is morally wrong. Josephine Allen see's it as "an outright disrespect for our moral laws" as well as it being a hazard on the road. It is difficult for me to think of tailgating as morally wrong, but as for being a hazard it truly is. In Jae Isa's report, she agrees with Josephine in that tailgating is disrespectful, however she also includes the ideas that it is also, "discourteous", "creates an element of fear", and is "an act of aggression". I think she really hit it on the nose, tailgating does cause apprehension among drivers and is in a way an obvious means of control. Looking at a male perspective, Shane Akagi's views are parallel to those of Josephine and Jae. He says that tailgating is dangerous and although he tries not to tailgate he is often a victim of the "sucking in effect". While driving in heavy traffic he attempts to leave enough space between himself and the car in front of him in order to avoid a rear-end collision, however, other drivers squeeze in leaving close to no space between him and their car. This really is a common phenomenon and unfortunately in heavy traffic I too am a perpetrator of the "sucking in effect".

When it comes down to the spirituality of tailgating I am absolutely perplexed. Shane actually believes in the good of humanity and their driving abilities, but does not let us forget that under certain conditions the devil in us all does emerge. We become creatures who inflict pain and misery into the lives of others and yet we're human. He doesn't think we'll be sent to hell for tailgating and neither do I. Of course if we kill someone in the process or inflict a great deal of turmoil into their lives, then maybe that's a different story. Jae on the other hand truly believes that if tailgating is morally wrong then those who do tailgate will go to hell....(this kind of scares me...what if she's right?) Although these two view are similar, Josephine saw spiritual as taking on a different minutes. A tailgator becomes an aggressor and a control freak. In order to change this attitude a person needs to acknowledge, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Bottom line is that respect is a two way street.

In traffic psychology we observe and attempt to modify our locomotive behaviors. It is through the study of actions such as tailgating that allows us to begin to self-analyze our thoughts, feelings, and perceptions in traffic. by looking at tailgating as an illegal act, a morally wrong action and a crime punishable by spiritual repercussions, it broadens our scope of understanding. By looking at tailgating through different eyes and viewing them as paradigms we are able to better analyze behavior.

If I were to define tailgating as not allowing the appropriate one car length between a car and myself for every ten miles per hour that I travel, then I am a chronic tailgating offender. (Unless of course I'm the only one on the road for miles around.) However, if I define it as simply leaving one car length between a car and myself, no matter what speed I'm traveling at, then there are only three major times I am a criminal of the highway. The first would be if I'm late or in a rush. The second would be if someone cut me off or simply looked at me the wrong way while I was driving. The last would be if I were busy daydreaming and not realizing just how close the car in front of me was.

While keeping track of my tailgating behavior I found myself tailgating others most often because I was late for an appointment or school. Even when I plan ahead for heavy traffic or try alternate routes I always seem to be in a rush. When cars won't get out of my way I tend to push them and push them until they go faster. Most of the time it works (I'm so ashamed!) and I feel in control. If someone gets me mad while driving, my tailgating behavior is even worse. The monster in me emerges and lashes out at my prey. I become the aggressor and yet take precautions to be sure I'm not the one who gets hurt in the end. (I've never really run someone off the road or caused them to get into an accident, but I know I've caused fear though. I'm so bad, but it's the truth.) In the rare chance that I find myself daydreaming and not paying much attention to the road I often have to slam on my breaks to avoid a collision. Once, I had a dramatic wake up call, I was just a bit too close to a big rig while driving my little Volkswagen Rabbit. (The big rig and I came out of it fine, but now my poor rabbit is resting in peace.)

From my observations I know that when it comes to driving I've become much more aggressive over the years. When I first got my license I was such a cautious driver, never breaking a law, never over the speed limit. Then, WHAM...BAM...BOOM...reality hit me, well actually a car from the side and one from the back. All my caution was for what? I still got hit because of careless drivers. That's when I became a road rebel, pushing the system, the laws and HPD's patience.

As for tailgating, I truly believe it gives me a sense of power and control. I hold the faith of myself and others in the palms of my hands. I know that it is dangerous to tailgate and a goal for me this semester will be to become a more patient and courteous driver. (I suppose I should especially work on my tailgating too. Okay, maybe...I'll try to eventually...stop tailgating...well, no promises though!)

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The second topic that I researched was breaking the sound barrier. Okay, not really breaking the sound barrier, just exceeding the speed limit. In order to find resources that talked about speeding I really had to look. Some people seemed to discuss it at different parts of the semester and some not at all. I tried first by looking at the topical indexes of the generation one traffic psychology class, but there weren't too many direct links to topics that involved speeding. From there I had to actually pull up people's weekly reports and skim through to find adequate resources. I know this really wasn't an efficient means of searching, but I didn't know what else to do. In the end I found three students that discussed some aspect of speeding and one who addressed reducing speed. These students were Joleen Lai, Michelle Ota, Claudia Kaneshiro and Todd Crawford.

To start me off on the wonders of speeding I read Claudia Kaneshiro's analyzation of Lisa Isobe's report; "Driving the Speed Limit: A self-witnessing Approach". The most informative and interesting section was entitled, "why exceed the speed limit?" In this section Lisa had come to the conclusion that people speed for two main reason's. The first is because in society today people are always in a rush and find themselves "getting more frustrated as delays and annoyances increase." The second is that people speed as a means of "conformity". We all fall into this trap of fitting in, belonging to a group and needing intimacy with others. Everyone just want's to be accepted.

We are all caught up in the need for acceptance and yet we have to step back and analyze our own behavior as drivers. Michelle Ota did just that, she observed herself and came to the conclusion that she is an "acceptable" driver. She admits to being human and breaking the law every so often, but she's not a chronic speed-racer. I believe we are all at fault sometimes and have an unconscious tendency to break the 25 mph law. It just seems so slow, almost as if the car isn't moving at all. Then there's the going over the speed limit on the freeway. Michelle says she hasn't ever gone over 70 mph on the freeway, which is actually pretty good if you ask me. Most people I know don't even think twice about going over 70 mph, and they don't all have nice, sporty, high accelerating vehicles. (Okay, I've done it myself too...guess I'm guilty again.)

With every justification of speeding and the normality of it, there must also come the criticisms. Joleen gets perturbed because of the "idiots that cut in and out of traffic to get to their destination". (Finally, a bad driving habit that I don't possess.) I get really upset when people do this too. It really can cause bad accidents while in traffic or even when there are a lot of cars around. This is more of a hazard rather than speeding on a barren highway. Weaving in and out of lanes requires a great deal of caution and attentiveness on the part of the instigator and the drivers around him. Once the concentration disappears, collisions are inevitable to occur. Joleen is right in saying that Hawaii is a small island and speeding will not only cause accidents, but increase one's chances of being ticketed.

Each of these three people covered different aspects of speeding, Lisa addressed possible reasons, Michelle analyzed her own behavior and Joleen expressed her pet peeve. The last report I uncovered discussed techniques for reducing speed. I found it in Todd Crawford's review on Ernest"niki" D. Libarios Jr's paper. There were two methods covered that were related to speeding. The first is called "slow down", basically the idea is to post signs indicating the percentage of drivers not speeding on the roadside, it's motivation involved the concept of peer pressure. Todd didn't find this to be an effective means of deterring speeding and neither do I. The signs would just prove to be additional distractions on the freeway and not a deterrent to speeding. The second is to "relax", his solution is to listen to classical music, ignore irritating behaviors of other drivers, leaving earlier, breathing slowly and avoiding driving during peak hours. Sure, sometimes it helps to take deep breaths and listen to slow, relaxing music, but many of us need to drive during peak hours, and while leaving earlier to reach one's destination may relieve stress while driving it may cause other stress (i.e., not having enough time to get ready for work or school, not getting enough sleep, not enough breakfast time etc.)

Each of these discussions on speeding are significant to traffic psychology. Lisa studied her own speeding behavior and made conclusions on why people speed. This helped her to analyze her own behavior and provided a start from which altering her behavior could occur. By having Claudia read Lisa's paper she learned what one person felt the reasons for speeding were and allowed her to further analyze her own actions and compare them to another. Michelle did the same thing, she observed her own behavior and then in turn analyzed and labeled her driving behavior. She found herself to be an "acceptable" driver, not too much of either extreme. Joleen talked about speeding behavior that upset's her. This is important because it informs others of irritating speeding behavior and provides a basis by which one can analyze one self. Finally, Todd and Ernest's ideas on reducing speed were attempts at deterring the behavior of speeding. Although his ideas were not very complete, it is a step in the right direction, deterrents to speeding. All in all these topics that discussed speeding were informative and could be successfully used in self-analyzing reports on driving behavior.

As for my own observations, I am a chronic speeder. What is a chronic speeder one may ask? Well, it's someone who always exceeds the speed limit by ten or more miles per hour. Yes, going over the speed limit has become a way of life for me. No cruising patiently on the freeway, no Sunday driving, no sightseeing while driving. When I hit the road, it's all fast, faster, fastest. Why am I a chronic speeder? My speculations are threefold. First, we all live in a society that is time conscious. Americans are always in a rush, always looking at the clock, never waiting patiently. It's a doggy dog world out there. If you stand idly by, you may miss an opportunity, you really need to take charge. Secondly, we live in a society that is individualistic, always looking out for yourself and not the other person. Therefore the act of speeding is just that, looking out for just you. It's not about risking the lives of others around, it's looking out for your own well being and safety. Finally, speeding is just a rush. It's the feeling of taking a chance, risking it all, you might get a ticket or out run a cop, but it's exciting and powerful. Driving fast is like riding a big wave for the first time, you're afraid, yet excited, the blood starts flowing faster and're hooked. It's like a drug, a natural high, yet still very dangerous.

I know that speeding is just one of many driving behaviors that I need to alter. I'm one of those risky people making the freeways unsafe for people yet I still haven't found a deterrent to speeding. Tickets aren't enough. I don't really have a solution to the problem of speeding, nor do I have a solution to my own speeding. I know it needs to be put under control and knowing is half the battle. As for speeding and traffic psychology well, it'll be hard to reform chronic's like myself, but I'm sure the behavior modification methods we will try to use this semester will prove successful.

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Here we go again with yet another traffic behavior that could prove dangerous on the freeway, yes, it's convoys. For this search I continued my pattern of skimming through weekly assignments completed by the generation one traffic psychology class. I found that the week 10 assignment discussed the dynamics of convoys. In each report the students discussed their own behavior and preferences when encountering convoys.

In Diane Beauchemin's report, she defined convoy's as "a situation where cars tend to travel in packs". I believe that this is a straight to the point definition that most people would agree on. Convoy's are simply that, a group of people driving in a group. There is always a possibility that they know eachother, but many times this is not the case. From her observations, Diane concluded that convoys provide a sheltering and protective atmosphere. People tend to feel safer exceeding the speed limit while in convoys. As for myself, I do not feel safer while in convoys. There is always a 50-50 chance that a cop will pull over the car in the middle or the end. This is one risky situation that I wish not to involve myself in.

As for Caroline Balatico, she finds that while in convoys her mentality changes. First of all she prefers to be at the head or the middle of a convoy. When she is at the head of a convoy she feels a sense of control, she is the one setting the pace. When in the middle she feels "suffocated" and loses that control. It seems to me that control while driving is very important to Caroline. While a participant in a convoy, however, she tends to let her mind drift off and often finds herself zoning out on the license plate of the car in front of her. As if that weren't bad enough she mentions that while in convoys, stress sometimes overcomes her in her attempts to avoid tailgating the person in front of her.

Another student who likes to be in control is Adele Kimura. She lays down the law and puts her foot down when it comes to convoys. She must be the leader or not a member at all. Her philosophy on convoys is that they are like "gangs" in the pursuit of trouble.

These student's analyses of convoys are helpful in the study of traffic psychology because they access another driving related behavior. It not only describes the thoughts, feelings and actions of the driver himself, it also addresses his interaction with others on the road way. Convoys, explore the idea of being a part of a sub group, those who drive in groups together. The concept is slightly different than speeding in that consideration is actually given to those members in the convoy, rather than just concentrating on your own driving. This opens the door for new arenas of study in traffic psychology.

Now for my own self-observation of driving in convoys. Personally I don't like to drive in groups. I'm more of a free spirited, free willed, speedracer. I like having my own lane without anyone in front of me. I feel more in control of my driving and I am less likely to cause harm, or threat to other drivers. When I find myself mysteriously pulled into a convoy, I make every attempt to flee. I don't appreciate being sandwiched between two cars, it feels like a stranger trying to invade my personal space. If ever I've lead a convoy, I'm really not aware of it. if someone is following me, then fine. If they are setting their pace because of me that's fine too, but there's always the possibility it could be a coincidence or normal driving behavior. So who know's. All I know is that I like to be in control of myself and my car.

In conclusion, I don't think I have a problem with convoys. I don't participate in them, so I don't think I need to change this part of my driving behavior. However, there is a possibility that I should try to reduce the need to be in control.

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Aggressive Driving:

Search I may, search I might, I searched this topic all last night. At long last a topic I've found, to stir my mind leaps and bounds. Aggression is the key to me, a reformed driver I need to be. By the end of this semester I'll try, too be real good, but why, oh why?

I spent some time flipping through the index of the one, the only Leon James. Surprise, surprise it unlocked the door to articles discussing aggressive driving. I clicked on the links entitled, "traffic violence", and "forms of aggression". These topics unlocked the door to a great deal of information.

However, let me begin with Josephine Allen's analysis of MaryAnn's paper. I found this under her week 11, generational curriculum paper. The paper was entitled, "Aggressiveness on the Road: Driver Behavior and Intervention Approaches." In this paper MaryAnn gave a good definition of aggression. It stated "any form of behavior performed with the intention or goal of physically or psychologically harming another living, human being who is motivated to avoid harm". Wow this is deep. If I were to analyze my behavior against her definition of aggression I would find myself to be a non-aggressive person, however, I don't deem this as true. In my mind I am a aggressive driver. (I'll explain a little later.) A factor related to aggression is the idea of "observational learning". As psychology majors we are all aware of Bandura's Bobo doll and the results. It is true that modeling has influence on learning and shaping perceptions, but it also requires some means of reinforcement. I don't see the correlation between this and driving. Well the information never stops, (I found this interesting) "there were several studies which showed that drivers with high extroversion scores were more likely to be involved in traffic accidents." Being an introvert, is it possible I will be less likely to be involved in traffic accidents, even though I have hazardous driving behaviors? Only time and real life can give the answer.

In Caroline Balatico's discussion of "forms of aggression" I found several insightful categories of aggression that better describe my aggressive driving behavior. Two discussed being in control and two discussed the threat of losing control. First there is the "territorial" aggression, this is when you do not allow another car to cut in front of you or invade your territory. I am definitely like this. (as discussed in convoys) Then there is the sense of "dominance", this involves one's "ego or pride". The other two involve fear of aggressors and are called "anti predatory" and "fear-induced" aggression.

Indeed these discuss common sense possibilities, but what about a theory not so common. Diane Beauchemin discussed Melanie Azama's paper in which she talked about aggressive drivers. Melanie explained that those individuals who have a tendency to drive aggressively "experience physiological arousal, are annoyed easily and may experience more job stress." With a statement like that it's really hard to address. I suppose aggressive driving does provide some means of stimulation. Just as I discussed the feeling of speeding through traffic, feeling like you're flying on the freeway, being in control does have it's up side. As for the other two speculations...anything is possible even though I don't really see it to be true in my life.

These discussions are important to traffic psychology because they are another stepping stone to analyzing one-self. Looking at a topic like aggressive driving confronts the possibility that our personality is the key to changing the bad habits of drivers and maintaining the good ones.

In my own life I believe I am an aggressive driver. My definition is a person who is in complete control of their own driving, being completely aware of their surroundings and not dependent on the actions of others(i.e. like while in convoys). It really makes me sound like a complete control freak, and maybe I am to a certain extent, but I wasn't always like this. Way back when, I was what people would call a "defensive driver", someone who would never let down her guard, never endanger the life of others and never respond to irate drivers. Then, it happened, all of it went out the door. No more "Nice Nancee". I got tired of being passed by on the freeway, nearly run off the road, banged by cars, and tailgated by inconsiderate people. I wasn't about to be run over by wreakless drivers. I had stood up for Hawaiian rights, women's rights, so why not driver's rights. Well, my efforts to become a strong-willed driver turned into becoming a driving maniac. I am no longer the timid, law abiding driver. I have turned into my worst nightmare, I have become what I dispised, a road- rebel, a driving criminal, an...instigator of highway havoc.

Unfortunately, I think I've become an addict. Hopefully, by taking traffic psychology I'll learn how to become a better, safer, and considerate driver.

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Driving Makeover:

Everyone in traffic psychology has to engage in a driving makeover and each student detailed their efforts to make this change. In order to find articles on this subject all I did was look at everyone's week 9 reports. Those papers that I found most interesting were Aaron Reisner, Danell Saito and Terry Slaughter. Just as with the others topics discussed in this paper it is helpful to have a definition to begin with.

Aaron Reiser's definition of a driving makeover is "looking at all of your habits and frequent reactions to situations", it is then you evaluate your driving personality and formulate a category in which to place yourself. He found that in order for someone to be a good driver they must be "constantly aware of all situation, has good reactions, has knowledge and general obedience to the laws of the road and is courteous and sensitive to other drivers". By this definition I am far from being a "good driver". I must be on his really, really bad scale.

With a different definition is Terry Slaughter. A driving makeover is the "process of implementing changes of your thoughts, feelings and actions while improving on your driving skill." A definition so much like the definition of traffic psychology. Basically, it seems that a driving makeover is much like a personality workshop. It reworks the behaviors, attitudes and actions of individuals in order to achieve positive relations with one's self and others. Once we are aware of what it is we want to change, the process falls into place.

Danell Saito agrees with this idea. In his report he named a two step process: (1) one must decide what personality/behavior he/she wants to modify (2) take note of all the negative driving attributes (i.e., thoughts, feelings etc.) In laymen's terms it is an attitude adjustment. I look at it as brainwashing, or experiencing electroshock therapy. (sorry, I hate change)

All of these self assessments are extremely important. Not only do they serve as a foundation for a safer, healthier driving community, but it also open's the door to a more receptive person. If through these means each person in traffic psychology becomes a reformed driver, then peace on the highways are only a few miles away.

All through this paper I have told you about my terrible driving behavior at present and how it got so bad, but now I really have to try to alter my behavior. In the end, if I become a successful traffic psychologist, then there is hope for everyone. I don't know exactly how I'm going to change, nor do I know how much, but I will promise to try. Even a little step in the right direction will set the ball in motion and hopefully I will minimize my speeding and tailgate less. As for the aggressiveness, I can only wish myself good luck. I've been passive for so much of my life, being in control actually feels good. Maybe instead of doing away with my aggression I can turn it around and use it as a tool instead of a weapon.

Oh well, stay tuned for my next report when I lay it all on the line and actually plan my own makeover. Until next wishes on your travels through space and the internet zone!!!!!

Reactions to my paper please...

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