Report 2: Driver Personality Makeover

The everyday driver, like you and I, think that we are never at fault in anything we do...well at least when we are driving! The art of driving can be a very personal topic of discussion, and at times we are called upon to defend our self-image as a flaw less driver. No matter who you are it can be the most difficult thing to admit that you are at fault, for driving is, to many of us, an art. However, more often than we'd like to admit, as the saying goes, "beauty lies in the eye of the beholder." As is the case with many problems we encounter, the hardest step to solving a problem is admitting that you are at fault. The first but most important step can look a mile away but once you take that hop skip and a jump towards it, from there on it' ll create it's own path towards resolution.
Integrating this concept with a driver's personality can make for a very interesting topic, and this is one of the stepping stones for the rise of the field of Traffic Psychology. The generation before ours (generation one) also discusses many different views about improving a driver's personality! During the past few months I've been observing my personal driving habits and I must admit that I'm finding it hard to see any wrong in my driving habits! There are times when I do drive irrationally although I always find a way to justify my behavior, therefore, I avoid the consequence of admitting to being at fault. Also contributing to my stubborn behavior is the fact that I've never received a ticket during my history as a driver. Although I've been involved in a couple of accidents, I still feel that it was just a once in a lifetime thing and that I may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. This does not excuse the fact that I drive recklessly at times and don't think nothing of it. However, the problem that I decided to confront myself with for my driver's personality makeover has nothing to do with driving along a freeway or switching lanes or anything like that. It has to do with how well you prepare yourself to take the road and all the other cars on. As I looked at myself as a driver, I wanted to make a change in my driver's personality that would eventually encourage me to take on new challenges in the future. Then one day it hit me, as I w as making my way to the supermarket I noticed something that was very disturbing to me, I wasn't wearing my seatbelt. I was shocked to realize that I didn't have the slightest clue that I wasn't wearing my seatbelt. The weird thing is that I don't even remember how it came about that I began not wearing my seatbelt; did I become so stubborn-headed to think I was that good a driver that I had no need for a seatbelt, or was I just thinking that it was such a short drive that nothing could possibly happen to me. Either way I looked at it I was still at fault because I was not being a responsible driver. Therefore I decided to use this experience as a first step towards becoming a better driver by trying to improve my bad habit. First of all I obviously need to start wearing my seatbelt! However, somehow it does not sound as easy as it may seem because of course you all know that breaking old habits is very difficult to do. So in my quest to conquer this bad habit I decided to seek out the help of those whom I frequently drive around and run errands for. I asked people like my girlfriend, my mother, my sister, etc to remind me to wear my seatbelt, and in turn, I said that I cannot get mad at t hem no matter what state my mind is in. Another motivation for me is the fact that it is the law and I am breaking the law, and if by chance I was to be seen by a policeman, and I didn't have my seatbelt on then I'd probably get my firs t ticket in my driving history. Eventhough I have the help from my peers and the police I still think that it's going to be a very difficult task for me, because in the end it all comes down to one factor, and that's the ability to accept change on my part. I don't care who you are or who you think you are, because no matter who you depend on or who you manipulate into helping you, it'll all come down to you and you alone in the end! To begin I decided to just wing it, I mean just observe myself as I drive and try not to give my peers a chance to remind me to put my seatbelt on. After a few days I was doing good but then I began to get lazy and ignorant so I tried to beat the system wear my seatbelt when my peers were around but when I was by myself I felt that I could stretch the rules a bit and not wear my seatbelt. I discovered that I wasn't doing myself any good by trying to beat the system and so I decided to write down no matter if I put my seatbelt on or not everytime I g ot into the car. This method helped me a lot because I d also have to show my girlfriend my driving notes everytime I see her, and since she practically knew where I was every minute of the day, then I'd have to be fairly constant. I found that this worked quite well, and so I took notes everytime I drove whether it be across the island or even to the store just around the corner. At first when I started to put my seatbelt on I felt so uncomfortable because I found that I couldn't move around as much as I'd like. Of course that' s the purpose of the seat belt, to keep you from moving around so much because imagine if you were to get into a huge car accident; you wouldn't be moving around a little, you'd literally be thrown around the inside of your car and hitting basically everything in your car, if you're lucky enough to even stay in the car. Sorry about the crude descriptions but I found that the more I tried to picture the consequences of my actions the more it helped me to understand the reason why I chose to change in the first place. Also, I realized that the reason there is a law enforcing seatbelts is not to try and control every person's behavior while driving, it' s actually to save the lives of millions of people around the world. I always thought that I was cool if I found ways to outsmart the law, but I just realize each time that you can't outsmart the law because the law was made to keep you safe in whatever you do so that you don't hurt yourself or anyone else for that matter, everytime you try to cheat the law you're just endangering yourself. Another advantage I've gained from this experience is that I've come to know my car a lot better now and I've actually become a better driver overall in all that I do. For instance, I've never in my life used the passenger-side mirror before because I could just turn around a bit and see with no problem. However, with the seatbelt holding me back I can actually appreciate the ingenious of that tiny mirror, I can see better and feel more confident that I can eliminate that blindspot that's caused me some problems before. Of course I can still turn my head enough if I need to but it's just that I feel that I' m really a better driver because I' ve learned to use every instrument that was given to me by the car makers. This is a good thing to keep in mind, that when the car was designed, it had to pass a certain amount of safety guidelines set by the traffic co unsel in order for them to put the car through the actual construction line; and each car had to be tested and retested for flaws and defaults before it is sold to ensure it' s safety. And if myself or anyone for that matter decides to dismiss one of the safety features as being inconvenient then they are disregarding the manufacturer's as well as the traffic safety council's strict guidelines to create a better traffic environment. In my earlier stages of my driver's personality makeover I accidentally cheated a little when I was in the car by myself and was driving without my seatbelt on. I came to a stop at a traffic light and was singing out loud to the song being played on the radio when I glanced to the side of my passenger side window when I saw him staring at me. As I was singing out loud to a great song, a policeman had pulled up next to me and observed that I wasn't wearing my seatbelt, he then motioned towards a huge sign that said Buckle Up, it's the Law and boy did I feel like a criminal that was about to be sent to jail for commiting a haneous crime. So I slowly proceeded to slip my seatbelt into place, all the while staring and smiling my hardest at the policeman. As I heard the click and saw the light turn green I wondered if I should drive on or pull to the side, but as I was still smiling my face off at the police officer, he gave me this "Don't you ever do that again" look and drove on. Oh boy I was so relieved and yet I was sweating through my clothes, that was probably the most nerve-racking experience I've ever had over a seatbelt in my entire life. Although I escaped a narrow miss that time, that was one of the turning points of my seatbelt makeover and from that point on I was a safety freak! After that experience I found myself in the car, in the garage, not going anywhere, but just sitting in the car and practicing using my mirror because if I was to honestly wear my seatbelt all the time I \ wanted to master the use of every mirror and know every inch of the car's interior and exterior. If you readers want to try it one time yourselves, I have one tip for you; start off real slow and try as you go along to try and work the radio into your practice session to get you closer to the actual atmosphere of a drive along the streets. Don\rquote t be embarassed also if you want to attempt this practice session because there is not a moment you should be embarassed about trying to improve your's as well as the safety of whomever shall be riding with you; actually you should also practice with the people who ride with you because at times their heads or screams will also distract you and we wouldn't want you to become overwhelmed when you 're on the road with all these distracting objects and noises around you. Don't worry if they're all screaming at you saying that they don't want to participate in this safety experiment because that will just be a simulated worst case scenario of a long drive. Sometimes I get frustrated now whenever I drive along the freeway or the highway and I see someone not wearing a seatbelt. But after long contemplations of how I can help these poor unfortunate souls I've come up wit h nothing, however, this led me to another safety tip for you guys; Don't drive next to them! The reasoning for this is that if they don't have the common sense to put their seatbelt on then they don't understand the full concept of being a good, but more importantly, a safe driver. By this I mean that they don't think of safety in terms of how their driving will affect others as well as themselves. This can be a dangerous sign to you and your passengers so I recommend that for the safety and well-being of yourself and your passengers that you give that person room to make their mistakes and your car will not be in jeopardy of any kind of danger. Eventhough I am a safer driver and observe other driver's bad habits when I am the passenger, I still take notes whenever I drive because there is no such thing as a totally safe driver. One thing I noticed was that I would observe the passengers riding with me in the car and I make sure that they are wearing their seatbelts also; no matter if they are in the back or in the front, it doesn't matter because as long as they're in the car they are in danger. Recently there was an article in our university's newspaper, Ka Leo o Hawai'i, and the headlines said, "UH Student Dead," and I don't usually read the newspaper but this title was just shocking that it made me want to read it. It described a car accident that happened on a weekend involving one person dead and two injured. T hat night there was a total of five people in that car and the car had hydroplaned off the highway and landed in a ditch near the side of the road. The driver and the passenger were all right but the three people in the back were the ones who suffered th e worst of the storm. It so happens that the passengers in the back did not have their seatbelts on, and these were the only ones who suffered the injuries. The two girls on the sides were rushed to the hospit al and survived, but the girl in the middle was killed in the accident. The article didn't describe what happened to the girl in the middle, but one cannot help but to think what could've happened to her. You must be reading this and be in total shock, but the worst of it is yet to come. The driver of the car, as it states in the article is going to be charged on the count of negligent homicide (accidental murder). This brings me back to the point of being responsible for your passengers, if the driver would have made it clear that everyone in the car should have their seatbelts on then he could have prevented these injuries. It's hard to think that although you didn't realize it you could be charged with the murder of someone you know. That must be one of the hardest things to deal with besides having to deal with the fact that your friend is not even alive anymore. These are of course the worst case scenarios but then again if you're not taking the right safety precautions then it's just a matter of time or luck that you may or may not end up in the same situation. It's sad though to think that it sometimes takes situations like these to get people to wise up the facts. That's why Traffic Psychology will eventually play a huge part in the role of improving behaviors in t he fu ture, actually by reading this report you have taken another step towards the success of Traffic Psychology as well as taking a step towards you becoming a better driver. During my experience of doing my driver's personality makeover I've realized that safety precautions have already written it's own book for us and if we just skim through it then we will lose the real meaning of it and truly be missing out. When we shop for a car nowadays we find that the majority of the costs that are assessed to us is the safety features of the car; for exa mple we have anti-lock brakes, air bags, power-steering, child-safety locks, collapsable bumpers, etc. The technology that was designed to create all these things have really played a numbe r on the total price of the car, but then again, can you really put a price tag on safety. Take the article I mentioned before, obviously this driver, although he probably doesn't know it, paid a lot on the safety features in his car and now because he didn't put his money to good use by using these features, he'll probably spend ten or more times the amount he paid for his entire car just to pay for a lawyer and reimbursement for the families. Of course this doesn't include the priceless psychological tr aumas that he must be going through now. See people don't think in terms of the consequences of their actions most of the time they do things, and this is where psychology comes into the picture. Traffic Psychology is the initiator of this Driver's Personality Makeover idea and look how many people it has made a difference to already. My classmates (about 15-20) have each wrote a report like mine on something that they can improve about their driving and to improve their personality as a driver as well. That's about 15 more possible reports on different aspects of driving that you will also find interesting. Also, with the help of the internet, we\rquote ve found a way to revoluntionize the distribution of our reports throughout the world. This means that each day that goes by, there could be another fifteen people who access my report from anywhere in the w orld, whether it be from the privacy of their own home or within the walls of their own office. Well now I hope you've gained a little knowledge from my Driver's Personality Makeover Plan and hope that you will execise some of the things that I have mentioned. As for myself, I definitely have more confidence as a driver now can feel more comfortable knowing that the people that ride with me will also have more confidence in me as well as feeling safer themselves.
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