Week Eleven Team Report On Car Culture... by Letitia S. Lujan



In Week's Nine and Ten I contemplated the notion of the effects of car theft on the psycological well-being of car owners. I have never heard of any field in psychology exploring this topic and I am most certain that it is a topic screaming to be recognized. Just tonight (7 November) I was watching the KGMB News at 6:00 and they had a small segment dedicated to auto theft here in Honolulu. According to their sources, October of 1995 is a record-breaking month for car thieves in Honolulu. In October of 1994, there were 469 reported cases of auto theft. October of 1995 beat this number at an unbelievable 868 reported cases of auto theft!

I found this information to be incredible. It was also a great coincidence that at the same time that I heard the news report, I was conducting my search in the Metacrawler on 'auto theft'. This reinforced my position on the need for Traffic Psychology to recieve the attention it deserves from the field of psychology. Owning a car is not simply something one does. When a person owns a car, they take on a new role to their lives. Now, instead of being just a student, teacher, mother, father, citizen, brother, and/or sister, that person is also a car owner, too. With each role comes certain responsibilities and concerns. The role of car owner is no exception.

My find for the week is entitled "Don't Give A Thief A Free Ride". It is the product of a joint community service project of the Crime Prevention Association of Oregon and various insucance companies through the Western Insurance Information Service. This site has much information on how car owners can protect their cars such as the best ways to protect cars, the different anti-theft devices available, and much more. Some recommended devices listed are the steering wheel lock, 'the Club' (funny how we seem to be making jokes of this device often in class!), Immobilizers, hood & trunk locks, spare tire locks, and gas cap locks to name a few. Also, it is highly recommended that before purchasing anti-theft devices such as the above, it is a good idea to consult your local law enforcement agency.

This site claims that a vehicle is stolen every 24 seconds in the United States. That's almost three cars per minute. Within five minutes our whole Traffic Psychology class could be carless if car thieves happened to decide to steal all our cars. Another way we could protect ourselves from attracting car thieves would be to put our VIN on as many parts of our car and car accessories as possible (Code-A-Car Kit to the rescue!). This site also provides information on how to report auto theft, how to make sure that the used car you plan to buy is not a stolen car, the different types of alarm systems, and the importace of reporting abandoned cars. They suggest that the most complete alarm system one could have for their car is a combination of sensors & warning devices.

What more do we need to argue the fact that car theft does have a psychological effect on car owners? How much longer will the field of Traffic Psychology be overlooked by Psychology as a whole? As long as sites and services such as these continue to surface, psychology as a whole will be forced to give Traffic Psychology the attention and investigation it deserves or risk the consequences of losing touch with the needs of people today.

Check out teammates Jason Nakasato and Sharla Supnet for their Week 11 findings.

Comments or Suggestions?

Back to Letitia Lujan's Homepage