Report 2: My Driving Personality Makeover Plan.

What can I do to try to change my driving behavior? Now that is a good, but tricky question. My basic makeover plan is fairly simple. Because of the fact that I feel that I am a fairly average driver in each aspect, except for those special occasions, my planned areas for change include:

1) Controlling my temper.

- My plan here is to think happier thoughts while driving. If something happens, just brush it off as something that is basically beyond my control. ( Unless it's my fault. ) If someone drives aggressively or dangerously, feel sorry for them. Mentally warn them that the lives that they are endangering are not only theirs but the others who are around them as well.

--Reasons for change.

I sometimes get "a little miffed" when I see someone doing something dangerous and/or stupid. Especially if it could possibly involve me in one way or another. I give them the good old "stink eye", make obscene gestures, swear, or just steam in my car. ( I could probably put a sauna to shame when that happens. ) If there is someone with me at the time, I become a not so well liked traveling companion. Although it does not often stay with me for very long, during certain times it can be too long.

2) Managing my time better.

- The main plans here are to plan ahead and to be more aware of the time in general.

This plan is probably going to be the hardest one to keep up with. I tend to be quite lazy whenever I can get away with it I'm going to work extra hard on this one.

--Reasons for change.

I have this really bad habit of being just in time or a just a little late. Very rarely do I ever get to my intended destination in a reasonable amount of time. I usually wait until the very last minute and then rush over. This kind of thing is okay if your destination is home with no other plans but if it's going to work or, god forbid, a date. Well, you get the picture.

3) Don't tailgate.

- There is only one way to do this one, and that is to remember to keep my distance. Unless it's bumper to bumper traffic I have to try to remember to stay at least two seconds away from the car ahead of me. I think that was the average time interval safe distance.

--Reason for change.

All I have to think about is the way that I feel when someone is tailgating me. Unless of course it's for a very good reason. And it better be VERY GOOD. Of course there are other factors that may be involved but I will handle that when the time comes.

4) Maintain speeds that are reasonably close to the posted speed limit.

- By reasonably close I mean within five but not more than ten miles per hour over the posted speed limit. Actually it's closer to staying within five miles per hour. This plan uses cognitive awareness and time management. Good time management means not having to rush and cognitive awareness means being mentally awake and responsive to the changes in speed, surroundings and situations.

--Reasons for change.

I have never gotten a speeding ticket, knock on wood, and I don't plan to get one anytime soon. Although I usually try to stay within five miles per hour of the posted speed limit, if I don't pay attention to my speed, I do tend to go a lot faster than I would like to.

5) Pay attention!!!

- By keeping my mind and my eyes open to any potential situation whether it be harmful or not. Try not to get into a tunnel vision type of situation even though it is a long trip. No daydreaming!

--Reasons for change.

Have you ever drove somewhere and then realize that you don't quite remember how you got there? I have, and it gives me an uneasy feeling knowing that I could have caused an accident by not paying attention to what I was doing, where I was going, or what was happening. What a nightmare of possibilities.

My theory behind this plan is to modify my behavior in order to make myself into a more competent and aware driver thus minimizing the margin of error. However this plan does not compensate for the competency, or lack there of, of the other driver.

Results.

1) I remember Dr. James telling us a story about how his wife had told him to smile at the other driver when he/she made an aggressive/dangerous move. I tried to do that and you know what, it did make me feel better. I sometimes even laughed at the other persons stupidity. I tried to limit the amount of negative affective thoughts and behaviors by replacing them with happy or amusing thoughts and/or speech or little or no response at all. I think that this area went extremely well even under tough situations. I was not perfect mind you, but I think that I kept my distress levels to a minimum thus keeping my temper in check.

2) In this category, if I had to use a seven point Likert scale to rate how well I did, with seven being the best, I think that I would have to give myself a four. I have had a very busy last two weeks. Because of the fact that I had a lot of catching up to do, classes to go to, work, not to mention having to stay on the computer until the early morning hours, I took a lot of little naps here and there and ended up rushing quite a bit. I guess that I have to work a little harder at this one.

3) I did pretty good in this one also. I made a very concerted effort to stay off of other peoples tails. Even though I was rushing around quite a bit, I remembered that safety comes first.

I remember when I first heard the term "the sucking in effect." I sat back and thought about it and realized that it was true and that I have seen it happen to me a few times but I never thought that it would ever be like what happened while implementing my makeover plan.

I would guess that a two second interval between cars must seem like a long stretch of open road to some people. It seemed like people were coming into my lane whenever it reached that interval. C'mon in fellas there's e'nuff for all y'all.

4) The only time that it was difficult to stay with my plan is when I am driving on the freeway. It seems like almost every time you drive there, you somehow get stuck in convoy. And when they're moving fast, so are you. Other than that, Maintaining a reasonable speed limit was no problem. I passed by a lot of policemen with laser detectors and not one them moved so I would guess that my speed was okay.

I did try doing the drive at the posted speed limit routine. Let me tell you, it was not very fun. You do get a lot of attention from other drivers though. Words of greeting and goodwill, friendly one fingered waves, and a lot of people try to read my license plate frame. Note: For those readers who might have done this to me, the frame says, Deep Space Nine: Bajor Sector.

That experience was a bit surprising to me so I abandoned it after that one day. I wasn't bothered by any of the comments, gestures, or actions, it's just that it was a bit too slow for me.

I also thought about trying to go the posted speed limit in a lane other than the far right hand one but considering the reactions that I had received while driving in the right hand lane I thought better of it. That would have almost surely caused a little more negative responses.

5) Having to take in all of the different stimuli and responses from myself and others has gotten my mental and physical awareness up to a pretty high level. No more feeling lonely and bored, now there is always something to do, something to see, something to hear. With all of the mental notes that I had to make to myself, not mention written notes, there was almost no way that I would suffer from attention deficit.

Interpretations.

Society in general is now moving at an average pace that is faster than the standard norm. This is true in almost every aspect in life, including driving. Society must begin to realize the potential for negative implications if acts of aggression, hostility or just plain foolishness are just tolerated and not acted upon. I do admit that I'm no angel and I have done many foolish things in the past. People in this day and age don't expect to get caught when they do something dangerous or illegal. What's wrong with society now? But I still expect to get caught if I do something wrong so I do try to limit my "indulgences."

Conclusions.

Although it is possible to drive safely, and sanely, sometimes you do have to take it up at least one level. Sometimes it is better to conform than to be an individual for safety's sake. Your inaction may cause others to react in a manner that could have a negative effect. So in conclusion I would like to suggest that we not only drive with our bodies but also with our minds as well.

Implications for Traffic Psychology.

Traffic psychology should there to show the people just exactly what they are doing when they are driving. What they are thinking, what they should be seeing, and what they should be aware of. This class has made me more aware of how I drive and by reading about other peoples stories has helped me to find out what I want to change about my driving habits.

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