Two men sitting at a bar
talking. One says: "...So
I chased him for several
miles riding on his tail
and honking at him. I'm
worried about these deep
seated emotions. What if I
go too far? You don't
suppose I need a shrink,
do you?" The other man
answers: "I used to be
like that but now I'm a
psychologist and I can
help you become one too."
Bottom Caption reads:
Rage and Aggressive Driving
I'll let him in. Let him in. There.
Hey, he waves at me. That feels good.
That's okay, buddy, okay. Glad to do
it for you. Just put your blinkers on.
I had to do the same thing just a few
minutes back. I had to fight my way in
because nobody would let me.
Facilitative driving make things so
much more peaceful, less stressful.
More spiritual. More noble.
watch it, man. He's honking at me
because I had to come from the left
into the middle. And he thought that
was too close behind me. It's true it
was too close. I panicked. I couldn't
wait and miss my turn. So he passed me
on the left, honked at me and then
raised his fist at me. Boy, how do you
like that? I don't get that too often,
do I? In fact, it's the first time
that I can remember in many years.
for Traffic Inspectors
my favorite hill. I like to push the
engine and race up, up. It's green so
here I go. Look at that cop on the
motorcycle right behind me. Good thing
I saw him. All of a sudden a new form
of behavior is required. Quick what's
the speed limit here? 35 or 45?
Probably 35. I'm going 45. He's right
behind me. Oh, no. No, no, must be 45.
Come on, why aren't there any signs
here! If I go too fast he's gonna nab
me. If I go too slow he'll be mad at
me. Stress, stress. I can't stand
this. Oh, boy, he's passing me on the
right. Guess he's in a hurry
somewhere. Ah, he's turning right. No
time to bother with me. Ooff.
morning there was a cop on a
motorcycle that suddenly showed up
among the cohort and all of a sudden
the cohort turns good instead of bad.
There were about five or six cars in
the pack. We were traveling at 55
m.p.h. in the 45 zone and we were
following each other at one car length
distance. Too close for safety, but
totally normal. So now that the
motorcycle cop is among us, all of a
sudden we slow down and we are keeping
double the normal distance. All the
time the cop was riding with us, there
was peace going on. People weren't
frantically switching. Speed limit was
being respected. It was great. I was
watching a totally new dynamic among
the convoy. All it took was this one
motorcycle cop in the middle of us,
which suggests that the city might
very well think of hiring people who
are entitled to report infractions who
are riding on motorcycles or cars,
they have a little computer and they
report infractions. And they need to
be clearly marked so people can see
them easily. It would stimulate all of
us to stay within safe driving
practices. We wouldn't do all those
risky things if these inspector cars
were around. All they do is report
infractions they see. Then the car
owners get a citation in the mail. Or
maybe they can keep a computerized
databank on every driver and when a
certain number of these infraction
reports come in, it triggers the
computer to send you a citation.
Before renewing your license, the
computer will print out the yearly
record of your driving. The cost of
your license renewal would then be
proportional to the number of
infractions on your record. This kind
of system would reward those who are
good drivers and make it costlier to
those who insist on remaining bad
drivers. Makes sense. It's a rational
way of managing human behavior. We
desperately need it.
The accordion effect has got me in
this left lane. I want to get out of
here, but I can't. It's solid
everywhere, left and right. I'm in the
tunnel actually right now. Fortunately
we're still moving. I hate getting
caught in the tunnel. Makes me feel
claustrophobic. I hate it. Once the
flow stops there is no way out and it
starts smelling real bad and I start
feeling like I can't breathe. Yuk.
Right now I'm still moving at 40 miles
per hour, right in the middle of the
convoy. I see a clearing up ahead. I
think I'll be able to go over to the
right after this pick-up truck gains
some speed, It seems to be going so
slowly. Oh, no. Meanwhile I forgot to
put on the lights in the tunnel with
all this reporting going on. Maybe
that's not fair. After all, I've
forgotten to put on my lights at other
times when I wasn't self-witnessing.
See Beatty's Fascinating
Discovery of Traffic Waves
and Feminine Modes of Driving
happens that this cohort of six cars
is made up of me and five women
drivers. That makes me feel more
secure. I trust feminine style driving
more than masculine driving. Like me
for instance. I'm a masculine driver
and I love it. Diane is a feminine
driver and she loves it. They're
totally different. Of course a woman
can drive in a masculine style if she
wants to, and a man can drive in a
feminine style. Like me. I drive in a
feminine style when Diane is with me.
She gets so frightened when I drive my
regular masculine style. So what's the
difference? I mean exactly. That's
something for traffic psychologists to
says I'm a masculine driver when I do
something that alarms her. Like when I
gain speed fast after the light turns
green. Or when I veer quickly in and
out of lanes, generally handling the
car like it's a horse rather than some
solid rectangular object. I love that
feeling. What am I going to do about
it? It's not a good metaphor for me.
I'm too enamored with the picture of
cowboys on quarter horses. It's some
childhood fantasy that delights me and
plagues me. Diane says, "Think of your
car as a big tractor rather than a
horse." So the feminine mode thinks of
the car as a big tractor while the
masculine mode thinks of the car as a
horse or guided missile. Sounds like
the feminine image of a car is big and
solid. The masculine image of a car is
light, maneuverable, and speedy.
now that's gonna make a big difference
in how men and women drive if, and
that's a big if, men drive mostly in a
masculine mode while women drive
mostly in a feminine mode. If it were
up to me I would vote for all of us
learning to drive mostly in the
feminine mode. Still I must admit that
right now I don't know how women
drivers feel and think in traffic and
whether they're different from men.
Take for instance a woman who's
driving in a masculine mode. This just
proves that women can do it too. It
doesn't tell me whether the women have
similar thoughts and feelings as the
men. I know for instance that when I
drive in the feminine mode, I'm not
really driving like Diane because my
thoughts are different, and the
feelings I like or tolerate are
different from her list. I'm a man
a feminine driving mode as if I'm
costumes of different drivers.
That feels right. I simulate
a feminine style of driving -- on the
outside at the sensorimotor level. But
inside, at the affective and cognitive
level, it's still good old me. Or bad
of' me. Nah! Just joking. I can hear
Diane saying, "You shouldn't joke
about being bad. It's serious you
know!" And I agree with her. Yes I do.
See, there's a masculine driver. He's
behind an El Camino in the right lane.
I'm coming up in the left lane. So he
just moves into my left lane real fast
without signaling. I had to take off
my foot off the gas and tap my brake
slightly. He could've spared me the
trouble by waiting his turn till after
shouldn't be so intolerant and
egocentric. He passes the truck and
moves right back into the right lane.
No signaling. I guess he thinks of it
as a little hop out to the left and a
hop back to the right. The whole thing
takes only 15 or 20 seconds. No harm
done. Everything is back the way it
was. There was no need to signal left,
then right. Too much ritual and
effort. Hey how do I know all this
about what he's thinking? I know
because I'm it. Yeah, I'm it. I do it
too. You do it too. He does and she
does it too. We all do it. That' how I
up on him now. Almost shoulder to
shoulder. Hey, Mister. Excuse me. Get
a life. Don't try to take mine. How
rude. Yeah, how rude. I keep going. I
didn't say that out loud. I didn't
make a face at him. I didn't give him
the stink eye. I didn't ridicule him
in my mind. I'm trying to be good.
Yeah. Trying to be good. I'm a
reformed driver now. Yup. Yessiree.
I'm a traffic psychologist now. I'm on
the good side now. I'm leaving him
behind now. I'm not overdoing it. I'm
not revving my engine. I'm not
bolting. Just easing into it faster
and faster till I don't see him any
more. So that's a masculine driver.
Who me or him? Hey, I guess the both
course women can drive in the
masculine mode, like the neighbor who
told us she carries a toy gun that has
three noisy settings. One is shooting.
Another is a grenade and the other is
a guided missile. Still, I'm convinced
that traffic psychology will discover
that, as in so many other things, the
feminine mode is safer than the
masculine mode. And so men would have
to learn to drive in the feminine
mode. Imagine, all males driving in
the feminine mode on alternate days.
Ha, ha. If you did it on alternate
years, you could show a definite
effect on accident rates.
the cognitive level we need to
discover how driving mode affects
men's conception of driving. When men
drive in the feminine mode do they
better understand their
responsibilities on the road? Do they
understand themselves better when they
simulate driving in the feminine mode?
If their thinking is different, their
feelings must be different too because
the two always go together, like
Swedenborg says. So that's it: men can
drive in a feminine mode even if they
don't prefer that style. Then, they
can feel differently than now. Yes
that's it. It's perfect. It's gotta
work that way. By compelling ourselves
to drive in a feminine mode we're
giving ourselves a chance to think
differently, and this in turn will
open up a whole new way of feeling in
traffic. The consequences will be
wonderful. We've got do it.
we might be able to show that the
masculine mode of driving acts like a
magnet for hostile and aggressive
feelings. So that driving in the
masculine mode, other so-called
masculine traits are able to assert
themselves in that person for seconds,
minutes, or days, with all sorts of
consequences for the person's
relationships. Yeah, I bet you that's
true. It's like leaven in the bread.
It spreads throughout. So, when I
drive in the masculine mode I
literally attract aggressive emotions
and hostile reactions. I start cursing
and using terrible language that I'm
very much against. I take risks that I
disapprove of. And then it spreads in
my mind. I'm rebellious and
disrespectful. When other people are
in jeopardy because of me, I am
delighted. This evil mode now becomes
my automatic driving self. But I
refuse to accept this mode as a
permanent expression of me. I'm
fighting it and I'm gonna fight it
Psychology and Spirituality
inmost level, traffic psychology deals
with the motivations and intentions of
the driver. This is the motorist's
affective world or moral self because
the driver's motives are involved.
This affects the spiritual self
because accepting your anti-social
motives corrupts your spirit, while
fighting them is noble and altruistic.
I'm a feminine driver.
(Laughs) What's that?
You terrorized me whenever I drove
in the past.
Oh, when you drove, I terrorized
you. Did I? How did I terrorize you?
Oh, no, don't tell me you're going
to pretend you have amnesia about
What, I used to talk differently? I
used to yell at you? What did I do?
You do have amnesia about this. I
know. You have no recollection .
Which car are we talking about?
Well, it was when you had the Capri.
Sometimes I drove it and sometimes I
drove you in my car. I don't
remember. The pick-up truck was one
And I used to terrorize you. I used
to say to you, "Why are you driving
this way, you fool?"
Like that? And I used to hit you?
You used to swat me on my leg.
While you were driving I would
actually say, "Don't do that."?
Yes. Or, "I don't feel safe with
Or "You're endangering my life."
Or "I'm not going to let you drive
Which is a total lie because you
wouldn't drive them around so I had
That was about your driving on the
No, it was about lots of things. It
was about lots of things that you
disapproved of in my driving.
What did I disapprove of, Darling?
I went too fast. I didn't put the
brakes on soon enough. I went in
when I shouldn't have gone in. I was
in the wrong lane. I -- Everything.
Oh, my God, I do have amnesia.
Yeah. How convenient.
Oh, how awful.
Call that selective amnesia.
You men don't remember the episodes
of your life, but the women
remember. And, even if men don't
remember, they set themselves up as
the arbiter of all that's true. So
if they don't remember it, it's not
true -- like thinking, "I wouldn't
forget something as big as that."
That was definitely wrong. But I
don't say that now, do I?
No, no, I'm talking about men.
Oh, men. Yeah, I used to do that,
true. Like other men who still do.
Personal growth is part of traffic
psychology, isn't it?
Traffic psychology is about
relationships and interpersonal
transactions with strangers. Driving
is the area of focus but it's the
person's orientation that's always
the issue. You have to choose
between fantasy exchanges with other
drivers or authentic ones that build
community and allow you to grow
Other Lane is Always Faster
behind this guy in the left lane as
we're coming down the hill. Another
car is in the right lane. What's going
on here. They're going about the same
speed. Isn't that just dandy. The two
of them won't let anybody get through.
C'mon people. Someone speed up or slow
down. Please. O.K., it looks like the
guy in the right lane is gonna speed
up a little. I'm moving over to the
right. We're neck and neck. I'm gonna
speed up and then cut in front of him.
I need to get back into the left lane.
So he speeds up. Figures. *#@*#!! So
now I'm gonna get stuck in the right
lane with the slow moving vehicles.
I'm annoyed. But I shouldn't be. It's
just something you can expect to
happen. Maybe he's not doing it on
purpose. Maybe it's just a coincidence
that he sped up at the same time as
I'm letting him go ahead. I'm just
going behind him in the left lane. I'm
keeping my distance from him. Oh,
shoot. Now, this guy's riding me
because I'm on the left. So now I'm in
the same situation that the other guy
was a minute ago. Isn't that ironic?
So now I'm going to have to speed up
more than I want to. I'm moving over
to the right lane and let him go by.
All right, go you *#*@&*!! Go!
Who's stopping you.
realize that none of this language I'm
using I really need. These are
vestiges from the past when the
emotions were intense. But now the
emotion isn't there. It's just a
vestigial facade I'm putting on. I
don't really hate this guy. I'm not
really crazy mad. Otherwise how could
I instantly, within milliseconds be
back to calmness? I explode but it's a
fake. Not like before. Then it was
real. I meant it. I elaborated on it.
I embellished it. I delighted in it.
But now it just comes out as a
vestige. So I usually inhibit it. But
sometimes I don't inhibit it.
ha. As soon as I change to another
lane, my new lane goes slower. Is this
an illusion? It must be. I wish I knew
for sure so I could be liberated from
this compulsion. Anyway, why don't I
just stay in the lane I'm in. That's
how Diane drives. She doesn't fall for
the illusion that the other lane is
always going faster. Maybe it just
gives me something to do. Still, I
think that the other lane actually is
going faster. What a handicap.
different area for traffic psychology
is automobile design. Like this car,
Dodge Omni '91. Every time I put my
hand where I grope for the lever that
opens the hood, or when I want to
disengage the hand brake, I encounter
needles behind there. Yeah, sharp
things. Whatever that plastic material
is made of, it's so sharp, it's so
incredibly sharp. Cuts my fingers. One
day we should have self-witnessing
reports from car owners to discover
things like this. How comfortable you
are. Does your back hurt? Like this
seat is not so hot. I sort of sink and
the small of my back is not supported.
I guess that's why they sell cushions.
But I hate them. They don't quite fit.
dum-dum. Why won't you let me in? What
do I have to do to get in here, huh?
Unusually heavy traffic today. There's
somebody who wants in. Alright, go
ahead, I'll let you in. Oh, there's
another one who wants in. He's not
waiting for me to make space. Alright,
go in, but that was no warning, man.
Oops, that's a cop in an unmarked car.
He's wearing his uniform. Go ahead.
But why don't you put on your
indicator, you cop?
what's this, an accident? That's
what's been holding up the flow.
Somebody spilled gasoline and they
have to hose it down in the other lane
there. Alright. Now we're picking up
speed. That whole thing was only five
minutes. It looked much worse. There's
that cop again, changing lanes without
putting his indicator on. What's the
matter with him? How fast am I going?
50 miles an hour. That's okay. Speed
limit is 50. Now, he's going off to
the right. He's not after me. But why
doesn't he use his indicator?
a whole big area also in traffic
psychology having to do with youth,
adolescents, and teenagers driving.
For instance, how do they put on the
brakes? How do they witness themselves
driving? Do they care about such
things as the damaging the car or
reducing its value or saving one or
more repairs? Are they money-conscious
in car maintenance? Well, they
probably aren't because they're still
dependents and the money comes from
their parents. So how does that affect
their self-witnessing? How does one
change attitude from being supported
financially to paying for your own
car? There's a whole new area there
that's of interest to traffic
Go Ahead. Be Mad At Me."
waiting for the lights to change.
Still Red... Green. Here I go. I'm in
the left lane picking up speed. Oh,
wow. I'm looking in my mirrors and
this guy behind me is coming up real
fast and since he didn't have to stop
for the lights he's going to overtake
me. But I'm already picking up speed.
The distance between is getting
smaller. Look at that. He's going to
pass me on the right. He couldn't
stand it. I was too slow for him.
in the right lane. He obviously is
trying to pass me. Ha, ha, but we're
going up hill so he's got trouble
passing. Alright, I shouldn't get him
all riled up. Obviously he's
determined to pass me for whatever
reason. It doesn't matter. I'm
releasing the pedal a little to I give
him a chance to pass. Not too much,
not too much. Let him feel like he won
the race. If I slow down too suddenly
he'll wonder what's going on, he might
be upset, etc. I'm the one who's got
to give in. Why me? Because I can.
Because I trained myself so it
wouldn't be fair to act like we're
equals when he's still in the grips of
the captivated driver syndrome. It
would be like kicking a guy who's
down. Un-sportsmanlike. I don't want
to be that kind of person.
the Negative and Positive Bias
the freeway traveling at 50 miles an
hour. I'm in the middle lane and I'm
moving over into the left lane. I see
this car in the left lane coming fast,
fast, fast. My indicator is on. It's
been on for three seconds. I hope he
sees it. Oh, boy, oh, boy. He's still
coming fast, fast, fast. Hey, you
idiot, can't you see I'm already here?
I'm half way into the left lane. Can't
swerve back. O.K. Finally. Wow, he
waited too long to put on his brakes.
It's scary. Anyway, heh, heh, I foiled
time for analysis. You called this man
an idiot. Does he really deserve the
negative epithet? I confess to a
feeling of satisfaction when I said,
"you idiot." What about "I foiled
him."? There's that feeling of
satisfaction again. It proves that I'm
not behaving like a reformed driver.
I'm having a lapse here. I confess
that I did see him in time, but
decided to muscle in on him instead of
waiting. I figured I can go faster
than he can, so I should be first.
Then I saw him coming on fast and
braking late. Taking the negative bias
point of view, I concluded that he was
opposing my decision just to prove his
superiority. I fell back into an
egocentric orientation, ignoring the
possibility that the other driver
might not have seen me in time, and so
he had to brake hard to avoid hitting
me. Driver's inattention rather than
driver's retaliation. Of course. I
fell for it. Oh, boy, I reverted.
Gotta watch it. Good thing I'm
got to be more specific in my
self-witnessing practices. Like right
now I don't remember what kind of mood
I was in when I left home. I didn't
check myself out. I just got into the
car and drove off. I remember waving
to Diane who was walking on the
driveway to her car. I would say about
this incident that it has to do with
the kind of spirit that I'm in. I need
to find out what puts me in that
spirit when I start driving.
go anywhere. Stay where you are. It's
just slowing down momentarily. You can
stand it. It's a beautiful day, look
at the sky. I love to look at those
tall downtown buildings. I love the
one that's so skinny you can hardly
believe it could be an office
building. It's made of mirrors. That's
all you can see, mirrors reflecting
the sky and the other buildings. Look
at that, it's picking up again. The
slowdown only lasted about two
minutes. I wonder what causes these
inexplicable slowdowns. There is
nothing on the surface to explain the
slowdown. There are no obstructions or
accidents or exits. It's one of the
mysteries of traffic.
it's a kind of parental, chastising
spirit that I associate with while
driving. Maybe it comes from the way
we learn to drive. The conditions
under which we are taught invokes the
that state of mind. If you're taught
to drive by a parent or relative,
chances are you get yelled at and
harassed in some way. So these
punishing spirits return to us every
time we drive. Amazing, isn't it? So
the solution is to break the spiritual
connection with punishing states of
mind and invoke tolerant, fair-minded,
and respectful attitudes. I can
re-orient this way as soon as I'm
willing to accept a higher principle
than my own impulses. The punitive
attitude cannot continue in the face
of a harmless mentality.
psychoanalytic or psychodynamic
approach might say that I have an
innate or instinctive impulse to put
myself ahead of others. Darwinians
call it the survival instinct or
survival of the fittest. But no one
has a good explanation for where this
instinct comes from or how it is
transmitted. The learning theory
approach would say that I learned to
behave in an egocentric and hostile
manner through various role models.
And once you become a driver you
retain that role model. And that role
model can be replaced with a more
adaptive driving through new learning.
Traffic psychology is a method for
self-realization that provides
opportunities for learning new driver
Poetry of Traffic
waiting at the juncture. Somewhere I
read that this is the busiest
intersection. Look at them. Lines of
cars coming from five directions, all
main arteries. There must be over a
hundred thousand cars crossing this
intersection every morning and
afternoon. It's been one minute, two
minutes, three minutes. It's going to
be another two minutes. People
surround me. In one direction they all
sit like me. Going in the other
direction they all flip by. It's the
poetry of driving in traffic, the
realization of a bond, a bond between
drivers and a greater bond between
drivers within cohorts. It's a
hierarchy like a phrase structure
what's wonderful is that the identity
of these drivers that surround you
keeps changing. So that you have a
multiplicity of close neighbors in a
one half-hour drive. And these
relationships may last a fleeting
second. At traffic lights they can
last a minute. They're
mini-relationships. And because they
are mini and because they are so
frequent and so fast, we ignore the
possibility that we are truly
connected to each other in the human
experience of driving.
to go. Here we go. Just like a choir
and a football team; we all have to
move together. We all have to keep the
same distance. We all have to watch
out for one another. We're all dangers
to one another. Whoops, there's a man
doing something illegal, coming over
to my lane and crossing the double
white line. Yet, I must accommodate
him. He's my brother.
the bus. What does he want to do, want
to come into my lane? Go ahead. No,
O.K., wait. Let me go by first. Then
you come after me. I see him in my
mirror. Still trying to do it. Two or
three cars behind me, they haven't let
him in. Why is everybody in the right
lane trying to move over? Oh, it's
because of this slow truck and the bus
doesn't want to be behind. Alright,
here we go. Now I can go ahead because
this slowpoke ahead of me finally went
to the right.
there, see, I'm exposing the
relationship. See, he's gone. I can't
even see him anymore. I had a two or
three second relationship with him. I
called him a slowpoke. I insulted him.
I wouldn't want him to hear me. So
there's a rule to strive for: Only
think pure thoughts, that is, thoughts
that you wouldn't mind the person
hearing when sitting right next to
you. You don't want to have selfish
thoughts do you? At least you don't
want to approve of them and end up
with them! Think thoughts that don't
merely serve ourselves put also serve
others at the same time. And,
therefore, if he were sitting next to
me I wouldn't call him out loud, "You
slowpoke," because that would be an
insult and I don't insult people to
their face because I don't want to
hurt them. So I shouldn't let myself
do it when they can't hear, because
ultimately it hurts both of us.
these are self-realizations about what
kind of people we are -- at what level
we have our relationships.
Mini-relationships in traffic are so
short and there are so many of them.
Makes it easier to study them. Like
experiments with fruit flies. They
multiply, you know, several
generations in a day so that you can
test out various things on
generational effects. That's how it
is. The frequency -- every trip is a
generation. And within that trip
there' s a lifetime of revenge in half
an hour with a multiplicity of
personal and intimate
mini-relationships. If they could all
hear each other, it would be very
intimate. So, just because they're
strangers and they can't hear doesn't
mean it's not intimate.
this is really exciting. What a
revelation, America! Every day
millions of us are encountering each
other on the road and having
mini-relationships of a few seconds in
which we manage to engage in both
insults and ridicule, as well as in
niceties and dance-like coordination.
Maybe the trend to have car phones
will someday lead to posting phone
numbers on license plates so we can
call and talk to the person in front
of us who just cut us off. Would we
make the contact personal or would we
just respond with anger and the love
of dominion? I wonder. Would we
connect on some personal level and try
to understand each other, and build
appreciation and respect for each
other? Hiding inside our cars with
darkened windows allows for
de-individuation: hiding behind a mask
and behaving anyway we please,
thinking it doesn't matter and that
there are no consequences.
builds self-awareness and
self-realization of the fact that
we're a community of drivers affected
by the same forces. When we're in the
grips of negative emotions, we're
being irrational, unhealthy,
stressful. Self-realization brings the
insight that the negative bias is your
own, personally generated syndrome
rather than something external caused
by others. Upholding a negative bias
in traffic is a kind of an insanity,
you know. It's a kind of a temporary
ought to be a positive dynamic. Not
only because it eliminates the
negative dynamic, which is a good
consequence, but also because it
offers positive opportunities for
personal growth. I would expect
traffic psychology growth groups to
spring up in the future. You know,
neighborhood community groups getting
together in people's homes once a week
and discussing their driving problems.
Sharing stories, both ignoble and
noble. Hey, group, I've got a
confession to make. Today I yelled at
my passenger. Or, Well, tonight I want
to report on my fourth week in my
driving personality make-over plan.
That sort of thing. People counseling
each other on their way to becoming
practicing traffic psychologists.
Pretty soon all new licensed drivers
will start out their traffic careers
as newbie traffic psychologists. Then
they'd get recognized as their
accomplishments grew. A green ribbon
when they become polite drivers. A
blue ribbon when they become
facilitative drivers. A black ribbon
when they become Gandhi at the wheel.
out! That stupid idiot! That old man
has been haunting me since Oakway.
Here he shows up again at the bottom
of the hill, haunting me. He was just
-- I was stopped for the light. It's
full traffic. And as I look in the
rear view mirror, I see him
approaching and he is looking at his
companion talking, talking, talking,
and he's approaching closer and
closer. Of course, he wasn't looking.
So I had to literally scramble out of
his way. Finally he looks and he puts
the brakes on. Can't stand him. He has
to show up behind me again. Just my
luck. Let me get away from here.
old lady, get off my back, okay? Just
keep your distance. Nah, she won't.
She just has to drive inches from my
bumper. I can't even see her front
lights in my rear view mirror. Got to
get out of here. She just won't do
anything about it. I hate traffic
today. Why is that? People are just
coming too close. This is the numero
uno problemo for traffic psychology:
maintain space. You're not allowed to
invade somebody's space. Obviously I'm
going to be late. Incredible the
traffic today, incredible. Lord, help
me keep my cool.
believe this old lady. Now, she's in
back of me again. I can hardly see her
face. She just yawns and acts like
she's going to wake up from sleeping
while her car is moving inexorably
closer to mine. Now she's getting
closer. Stay away, lady! She's sort of
driving very relaxed and nonchalantly.
She worries me. She's got white hair.
She looks like she's about 80 years
old. Oh, I've never seen traffic this
heavy and at this time. It's twice as
heavy as it should be. It's like both
directions are the same. Usually the
other direction is heavy like this.
And I can scrape by here. But not
Somebody else got in between her and
me now. Is she going to be better?
Neighbors are bound to each other in
gridlock traffic. You're stuck with a
person longer. So the community is
even more important. Start. Stop.
Start. Fast. Slow down. Stop. Start.
Fast. Slow down. Start.
Zones That Suck Cars In
what happens. As soon as I maintain
the proper following distance, another
car quickly gets sucked into that
space. It's how the accordion effect
starts. Like just now I left three car
lengths in front of the car ahead of
me. Our convoy is in the leftmost lane
of the freeway and we're traveling at
50, so I really should have 5 car
lengths instead of 3. But I can't do
it. They won't cooperate. As soon as I
leave between 2 and 3 car lengths, a
car from the convoy traveling in the
right lane gets sucked into the space
ahead of me. Just like that. Swooshh.
Of course, the driver doesn't have
time for signaling.
that's a danger zone. It's sad to say,
but it's come down to this -- if you
leave proper following distance, the
other motorists will create a
whirlwind danger zone around you as
they bolt into the available space.
What can I do? The law of traffic,
we've got to respect the law of
traffic. We've got to accept it. We've
got to, instead, deal with the social
consequences, like being late, rather
than twist the laws of driving, which
is not possible, not safe, irrational
I don't have all the answers now.
What's important about self-witnessing
is that it provides spontaneous and,
therefore, real, authentic thoughts
and rationales. Otherwise none of
these issues or few of these issues
would come up, even if I was doing
experimental research. Oh, boy, isn't
that nice? Speed it up now. I'm going
55 again. So the whole thing lasted
less than five minutes. It seemed much
longer. Gotta watch these delusions.
Be objective and accurate. Five
minutes is not much longer. It's five
really lost my cool back there with
the old man and old lady who were
following me too close. How can I let
myself use such awful terms? Here I
thought I was a reformed driver. Yeah,
yeah. Sure. A reformed driver who
denigrates senior citizens. How can I
stoop so low? I've got no excuse. I
caught myself. And it's all on record
now. No hiding it. The whole world's
gonna know now. I do feel sorry for
aggressing against those two
individuals. I'm the idiot and the
fool. O.K., that's going too far. Just
stop thinking in such negative terms.
We're all in this together. So they
made a mistake. They don't deserve to
be called names and treated in a
denigrating manner. And I don't
deserve to be called an idiot either.
So stop it. I said stop it.
is an issue, isn't it? So here we are,
sticking together as a cohort in the
left lane. Everything is solid in both
directions. And the tendency is close
ranks so you don't allow anybody in.
It's so tempting. I say to myself,
that's orderly. That's just. You stay
where you are, I stay where I am. See?
The people who are already where they
want to be can say that. But is it
just? It's that kind of territoriality
equitable, an equitable way of sharing
public space? I doubt it.
slowpoke is messing everything up for
everybody. So I have to get around
him. How does he dare move in the left
lane so slowly, blocking the entire
cohort? Of course, the people who were
trying to get in here on the side
street are able to merge, and they
don't have to wait as long as they
would ordinarily. So for them it's
okay. But for everyone behind me it's
not okay. So there's always a
competition on the road, isn't there?
We have to live with this competition
in a fair way. We can't let our
natural selves simply dictate. We must
think of this spiritually and morally.
Dreams in the Left Lane
to maintain my distance from this car
in front. But this guy behind me is
following me so close. He doesn't like
me to leave much space ahead of me. He
thinks I'm a threat to the integrity
of the convoy. Maybe. Maybe I'm making
all of this up. Maybe he's just not
paying attention. Maybe he can't see
that well and is mis-perceiving the
distance. Or maybe he's trying to tell
me something. Don't be mad at me, sir.
After all, I have to drive according
to my own capacities. What if the car
ahead of me stops and I can't stop and
I hit him? I can just hear him mutter
at me, "Oh, what's the matter with
you. Get off the road if you can't
drive like everybody else." Oh how
cruel. That hurts me. No, sir, no,
sir. Please don't think that. I mean,
it's my right, isn't it, just as much
as yours to be here on the road?
what am I doing anyway. Making up what
he thinks? That's a kind of daydream
fantasy. I wonder if many people have
them. Probably. Something for traffic
psychology to find out. Surely they're
important. People will be able to
discover this kind of thing in traffic
psychology growth groups. I suppose
people will come up with procedures
about how these self-help groups could
operate. Twelve step programs normally
have credos and procedures, although I
don't know how much of this is
necessary with traffic problems. A
thing that impresses me is that they
all start with the acknowledgment that
we are powerless to change our
addictions by ourselves and therefore
we need to appeal to a power higher
than ourselves. That's a key issue for
driving addicts who are committed to
being bad to others. I was shocked
when someone I was talking to about
driving stories said that people want
to be jerks on the road. They don't
want to give that up. It makes them
really shocking to hear. Of course,
it's not really surprising from what I
already know. It's a sign of addiction
that you don't want to change, that
you oppose the idea of change, that
you're willing to pull the wool over
your eyes and pretend that you enjoy
being bad, that you enjoy creating a
little hell in your mind, that it
feels good to retaliate and punish and
denigrate and threaten. But I told him
that this is a delusion, that hell
cannot be enjoyed but only suffered. I
told him how deeply I'm moved with
gratitude when someone does a driving
nicety to me. And how great I feel
when I'm being nice to another driver.
I told him it's like building
community and carrying on good
ooh, ooh. I'm braking hard so I won't
hit the car in front of me. I hope the
man behind me is being careful about
me. It's so painful. Stop, stop. Go,
stop. Go. And it's so close. We're all
a few inches, a few feet, from one
another. That truck's lights are on.
So my hand goes to my lights to check
if mine are on. Automatic response.
How neighbors in cohorts affect each
other. Oh, my God. I didn't see him.
Oh. That was close, switching lanes.
Now that one wants to switch into my
lane. Wait a little more, mister.
Well, it's too late. He's got his
front end over the line. You just
wouldn't wait. Now you're holding up
all your lane. Well, you should have
thought of it before. So you don't
hold up the lanes. Your fault! Your
fault! Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah.
Eat your ukulele. Well, go already.
Go. Go. Hurry now.
such a whiner. I hear myself whine.
What's the matter with me? Here I go.
I whine again. Was that a whine? Yeah,
that's a whine. Diane says to me,
"When do you do your charity? You can
do it when you drive." That's a good
point. I've got to practice charity
every day and traffic is a good place
to do it. That will raise my low
self-esteem. We're all overly critical
of ourselves and of others. And we're
intolerant. Now, isn't that the
symptom for suffering: low self-esteem
and being defensive? So that's another
angle that people need to explore in
those traffic psychology growth
groups. How to make yourself happier
as a driver.
of Least Effort in Driving
there's this person in front of me and
he keeps a bigger distance than I
think it should be, like maybe it's --
looks like 15 car lengths instead of
five. It irritates me. Now, another
car went in-between him and me. Now,
this other car is riding his tail.
These are the things we get into.
These are the things we've got to get
ourselves out of. And driving is a
wonderful arena for self-improvement.
Now, the guy behind him had enough so
he went back into the left lane. And
now he's passing him. Now I'm closing
up. I'm keeping it about five car
lengths which is where I want to stay,
doing 45. He's doing 45 in a 45-mile
zone in the right lane. He's got his
still bothering me because he's not
closing up the convoy distance. Come
on, man. You see? You're putting
pressure on yourself. Stop it. I said
stop it! And there's nowhere to go. I
can see down there. Nowhere to go.
It's all filled up solid. So you see
how intolerant you are? He's driving
at speed limit or just above speed
limit in a right lane and he's
bothering me. That has got to stop.
I'm not just willing to go on like
this. No siree.
tyrannical characteristic of driving
is the of law of least effort. You
don't take your foot off the gas
unless you have to. You don't brake
until the last moment, in case you can
avoid braking altogether. You don't
signal. That's the law of least
effort. And another one that's closely
connected to it is the law of least
interruption. That's it. The law of
least interruption. So if I'm going at
a certain speed and somebody cuts in,
now I feel that I'm being interrupted
in my own progress. Instead of seeing
it as an accommodation (which is
positive), we see it as an
interruption (which is negative). Even
if I'm being nice and let somebody in,
I feel that I'm interrupting my
progress. So the law of least
interruption seems to be operating in
driving and it governs our feelings,
our orientation, our conclusions.
also a micro-micro level of
self-witnessing, even deeper than
sudden memory, that goes by too fast
to be recorded verbally with language.
It's more like a thought language
through the eyes. Like switching
lanes, what is he going to do? If I go
right, he'll go left. Or, he's coming
left. These are the general decisions.
And then within these are the ones
that are so fast they can't be
described and yet you can become aware
of them with practice, expertise, and
that threatening and scary looking guy
gaining on me. He wants to squeeze by
ahead of me. I'm in the left lane.
There's a car in the right lane just
ahead of me. The gap is about three
car lengths and he wants to squeeze
through there. He's coming on fast in
the right lane. He figures he'll be
able to squeeze through. Now it's my
move. I can't just keep speeding up
and closing the gap ahead of me. He
keeps on coming fast. If I close the
gap he'll have to brake pretty hard to
avoid hitting the car in the right
I had a
choice that split second moment.
Should I slow down and let him go? I
knew what he was doing. That's what I
should have done. No, I just kept my
speed. His space was cut off. Now I'm
passing the car in the right lane. I
'm avoiding looking in my mirror to
see what happened. I sort of see them
in my mirror but I'm not looking at
their faces. Naturally, they must be
really ticked off. He's coming over to
the left lane, he's behind me, he's
passing the car in the right lane.
Hey, look, he's getting back into the
right lane. Oh, I see, he has to turn
right. Well that's a relief. But I
should have let him in. Yes I
should've. Facilitative driving,
remember? You're supposed to let other
motorists do what they want. Make it
easy for them to do what they want.
Remove yourself as a barrier to what
they want to do. Remove your car from
their path. That sort of thing.
regret not having let him in. Giving
him that extra chance would've meant
using my brakes. Am I scared to lift
my foot off the gas pedal or what? I
should have done it, especially since
I knew that's what he was gunning for.
So I'm bad. I repent, God. I'll
change. What is this attachment I have
to foiling the wishes of other
drivers? I'm sure it's perverse. It's
got to go. It's the love of ruling
over others. We all have it. We're
born with it. So now we have to work
hard to get rid of it. Traffic
psychology does that for me. It would
do it for anyone who takes it
seriously and honestly. But that's
hard. Oh, boy oh boy, do I know it.
Sometimes I feel that I wanna be bad.
I enjoy being a jerk. I seem to be
proud of it. Oh, boy, that's twisted.
She went over to the left, behind me.
She thought I was just a slow poke.
She got impatient with me. So she
decides to switch lanes around the
bend. Now she can see that the whole
convoy is going slow. It wasn't just
me, Lady. Aha! My line is picking up
speed and hers is still slow. Look at
that now she's way behind me. I doubt
her line could catch up with me now.
Imagine, she thought I was holding up
the line. But now she's stuck behind
in the other lane. Na-na-na-na. That
will teach you. Oh, cut it out. She's
probably very stressed by now and you
shouldn't delight in her misfortune.
Yuk, go away. Alright, alright,
everybody cut it out. Quiet now. Give
me back my peace and joy of driving.
Look around, It's still a gorgeous
day. Mmmm, how pleasant.
can be a pleasurable, harmless
experience. Traffic can give you hours
of pleasant driving and hundreds of
mini-relations that you can flash back
and remember forever. If you wanted
to. Just think how glorious driving
is. I'm sitting here in
air-conditioned comfort, talking into
the tape recorder, relaxing, driving
among all this traffic, getting to
work, miles and miles away in just a
few minutes. Oh, look what's
happening, a big load. I've got to get
over. Thank you for letting me in
folks. Thank you. Smile. I'm now in
the left lane and this big load with a
cop car behind has been holding up the
right lane. So that's why it's been so
slow. Now I can understand. Ho, ho.
This is the time they pick. What is
it? It's a huge crane.
Driver Behind Me Gets Upset
Now we're picking up speed towards
Somers Avenue. Distances between cars
is increasing. Good. I feel more
comfortable this way. But for about a
mile back there distances were less
than one car length. And if I try to
leave more than half a car distance,
bingo, somebody else gets in there
from the middle lane or the driver
behind gets all upset. How do I know
the driver behind me is getting upset?
Of course, I may be projecting. But
how can I ignore the clues he's giving
me. Like when I came in back there, he
tried to speed up to stop me from
getting into his lane ahead of him.
But I forced myself in anyway and I
imagine he had to apply the brakes
more than he wanted to. So I would
call this an incident. We had an
incident. I was trying to get in and
he was trying to prevent me from
getting in. And then he follows real
close for a while. So what am I
supposed to be, happy? I know he's
ticked off at me. So now if increase
following distance slightly, he's
right behind me getting very close.
Naturally I feel pressure as I'm
thinking of his impatience and
interpreting these things. If I
objectively examine them, I would have
to say that I don't know the
probability of their accuracy except
by the argument of reciprocity. I do
it. He does it. We all do it to each
other. We all force each other, coerce
each other, compete with each other
acting as if our moral feelings have
been exiled for the duration of the
trip. Since I'm familiar with the
psychodynamics of the situation, I
feel compelled to think that I'm
interpreting the clues correctly. The
pressure is real, not imagined. Or is
it? Isn't it up to me to inure myself
from such pressure, to toughen myself
up so I don't get influenced by such
know. The spiritual danger in driving
is to become habitually insensitive to
others. Because even if you are a
facilitative driver, still there's a
remnant of indifference to another
driver's plight. Like when we're
looking for a space in the mall
parking lot, driving around the lanes
with a bunch of other cars. Sometimes
I come later than someone but I'm
closer. So I follow the rule according
to the letter. Since I'm closer, I'm
gonna take the space. Do I feel sorry
for the other driver? True, we should
follow the rules, but we must
cultivate empathy and sensitivity.
Yes, I should feel sorry for the other
left home Diane sent me off with her
usual reminder: "No cowboys." meaning
I should drive like I drive with her,
instead of by myself, the way I want
to drive, like a cowboy on his horse.
Well, I've just been driving like a
cowboy the past few minutes. This guy
behind in a flatback truck was
following me pretty close And I was
acting like I want to get away from
him. And he acted like he wants to
stick with me. Now, he was
disregarding the rules because he was
crossing the double lines as he moved
over to the right lane exit a little
too soon. Notice that he had to put on
his brakes, of course. On the other
hand, I didn't cross the double lines
and I only had to put on my brakes
exercise for the growth groups is to
explain traffic flow questions. For
example, you're driving in the left
lane and passing the cars in the right
lane. All of a sudden the left lane
begins to slow down and now the right
lane is going faster. Why does this
happen? The explanation is this: if
there is a slow moving vehicle in the
right lane, the cars start moving over
into the left lane. The left lane now
runs out of space as new cars from the
right lane fill it up. It slows down.
Meanwhile the right lane gains more
space as cars are leaving. The cars
that are left can now go faster than
the left lane. Of course, pretty soon
they have to come up against the slow
moving vehicle and they're stuck. If
you try to cross to the left lane at
this point, motorists will try to shut
same principle holds when either lane
is blocked by cones during an accident
or construction job. Orderly merging
would be for the motorists in the
blocked lane to drive all the way to
the first cone, then let cars
alternate between the two lanes. There
is only one merging point.
Unfortunately, drivers are untrained
for this, so they panic and try to
merge at whatever point seems good to
them. This creates multiple merging
points. It slows the free lane down to
a crawl while it frees the blocked
lane for some cars to pass everyone,
then merge at the end. This is
disorderly merging. It's more
dangerous, creates more incidents,
makes other drivers mad, and you end
up with feelings of embarrassment,
guilt, or unhealthy opportunism.
Dilemma--To Switch Lanes or Not
another exercise for learning better
cognitive driving skills. Suppose
you're driving in the middle of a
convoy, and it starts moving too fast,
way above the speed limit, and you
don't want to go that fast. You're
thinking of moving over to the right
lane but you notice that it's moving
pretty slow, slower than you want to
go. What should you do? Should you
hold up the rest of the cohort by
keeping your speed down, even if it's
still faster than the legal limit. Or
should you go over to the right lane,
even though it's moving slowly?
You must not hold up the convoy by
your action in the left lane because:
A) You should not interfere with other
people's freedom. They're not breaking
the law in any way that's different
from usual, and you're not an
authorized deputy entrusted with
making others keep the law. B) By
slowing down, you are creating a
dangerous dynamic in the back because
of the way they respond to your slow
down in the fast lane. People don't
tolerate it. They pass you in an
impaired mental state caused by
intolerance and egotism. They rev
their engines and give you the stink
eye. They act offended. They come up
close behind you, veer into the other
lane, then veer back into your lane
close to your bumper. They create a
whirlwind of danger, speed and anger
around your car. So don't try to slow
them down but move over, let them
pass, then resume your place.
King of the Road. No one can catch me.
The closest behind me, those two cars,
they're trying to catch up. But nobody
can, up the hill. I know how to just
-- not to put the brakes on at the
right time. There, I'm arriving, King
of the Castle, King of the Road. It's
me, me, me. Get out of my way, you
pip-squeak. There, see what you made
me do. Now, it's the yellow light, I
have to stop and you creak you, you
#X@!%, I'll tear you to pieces.
amazing is to think that these
feelings can remain for hours. I
experience them more as caricatures
because I realize they're crazy. I
feel them at the moment. But they're
gone in a flash. I don't take myself
seriously. I let them go. I don't
create a legitimate context for their
continued existence, so they vanish.
They're vestigial feelings. But I
remember when they lasted seconds and
minutes. I took myself seriously.
Very, very unpleasant. Very, very
hellish. You could call these episodes
Hellish Road Speech Acts. They're
inherited tendencies we stamp in by
acceptance that become habits. Very
likely, the inherited impulse to be
hostile is more easily stamped in
because we observe it in others and
model after them.
retain control. Each time we express
rage or hatred and notice it, we have
a fateful choice: either to go along
with it -- reinforcing it further, or
to question and disapprove of it --
weakening its hold on us. I'm doing
47. Look at that guy. He passed me by
like a rush of wind. He cut in front
of me real close. I suppose this is to
express his hatred of the way I was
driving. This is the role type I'm
talking about, the role logic of
domination, irrationality, insanity.
We all have it. We all need to work to
get rid of it. And when we do --
Forces on the Road
interesting feature of traffic
psychology is how you talk to
yourself. Have you listened in lately
on how you talk to yourself? And of
course, how you talk to yourself is
how others have talked to you and how
you've heard others talk. So inner
transcript analysis and
self-witnessing are very important.
The external approach of averaging or
of correlating with external behavior
and physiological measures, cannot
reveal what perhaps is the major
contribution to variance to be
controlled, namely, the psychophysical
dynamic forces. And only the
self-witnessing method can provide
access to that data for empirical
analysis. Empirical analysis is a
bridge between phenomenology and
features: So we were waiting in line
by the light, and I was number five.
This car in the number three position,
when the light turns green, decides to
wait and let this other guy from the
side road go first. And then he goes,
and then I go and then the guy behind
me goes. And that was it. But suppose
the light had changed. Now, this
particular light has a sensor so it
doesn't change as long as cars keep
running over the sensor. But if he had
been even a second too slow -- you
only have three seconds -- then it
would've turned yellow. And then I and
the car behind me would have been
stuck. So should he have done that?
That's a moral issue I think.
other hand, he helped somebody because
he made it for certain that this guy
from the side road was going to get to
the light. Because it's one of those
lights that stays green as long as you
keep going over the bump. Okay. So,
true, he made it more certain for the
guy on the side road to go. But at the
same time he made it less certain for
me and the other behind me. Did he
have the right to take that liberty
with my chances of getting through the
light? Is somebody waiting in line
allowed to let somebody else in?
Normally, in a post office or bank
line, people get mad if you let others
go ahead of you because that makes it
longer for them. Right? There's a
moral issue to be discussed in traffic
New Deal For Driver Ed
High school class
receiving diplomas for
completing a Driver Ed
course. The female speaker
in a police major's
uniform at the podium is
saying: "It's not enough
to be good at driving. Now
you've got to be good
while driving." A male
police officer standing
next to her is shaking the
hands of a line of
students and handing them
diplomas. All the students
who already have a diploma
and are walking away, have
a saint's halo around
driving and I have my earphones on,
listening to the news I recorded
earlier. Question for traffic
psychology: Is it dangerous to do
ancillary activities in cars --
operating the radio, tape recorders,
CD players, cellular phones,
computers. Getting involved in
something that you're doing other than
the driving can reduce driving safety,
like you might do something a fraction
of a second too late. Yes, I noticed
that in my own case. I constantly have
to watch out for distractions and
counteract errors. In other words,
there's a training phase that's needed
to avoid becoming a safety hazard to
yourself and others.
can't assume that they can do
multi-tasking just because they're
good drivers. Remember how many
beginners, can't talk while they're
driving? Or if they talk, as soon as
there's heavy traffic or some incident
occurs, they stop talking. But they
learn. Same with listening to the
radio, with singing, dictating. At
first it distracts you from your
driving performance so you need to
stay alert until you've re-trained
your automatic driving self.
expect traffic psychologists will
discover the special distraction
problems for each type of side
activity. Using the car phone often
requires driving with one hand. Using
a computer creates competitive
stimulus demands on the same channel
you need for driving -- your eyes. So
there must be specific training for
each type of multi-tasking activity
that will be performed while driving.
to do with sensorimotor training. You
should be able to drive equally with
one hand, with both hands, with either
the left hand or the right hand. And
you should be able to change lanes
with one hand. At the same time you
should be able to turn on the
indicator. In other words, all normal
driving functions, you must be able to
do with one hand, including handling
the wheel with one hand, and honking
here's an obstruction. So I have to go
over to the left lane. I have to watch
as I'm talking. You see, there's no
problem. I look over my shoulder, I
switch lanes. I've been well-trained
for the use of one hand, which is my
left hand, holding the microcasette
tape recorder near my mouth in my
right hand. Over the years I've
learned to be very comfortable and
competent using my left hand for
driving. That leaves the right hand
open for holding a tape recorder or
using a computer.
course, the eyes, ha, ha. Now, for
years I've trained myself to move my
eyes rapidly while driving, so my eyes
move in a triangle. From the rearview
mirror front, side, left, right,
rearview mirror front, side -- my eyes
are in constant motion. Once in a
while they rest I'm reading or
So that level of sensorimotor
self-training needs to occur. Once
you've got that kind of training, then
you can start thinking of doing things
like putting your hand on a keyboard
or writing a note on a pad that's held
securely on the seat, and so on.
People have that practice to some
extent with one hand because they eat
with the one hand, drink, hold the
telephone, and so on.
got to be careful here. Thank God for
brake lights. It makes everything
easier so that I can relax and still
drive safely in heavy traffic, you
know, on, off, on, off. Because it
just jumps to the eye and then my foot
is conditioned to the other person's
brakes. It's just automatic, I don't
have to worry about anything. It
doesn't interrupt my relaxation, my
concentration on other things. Just
think all these feet go up and down,
up and down, all pretty much at the
same time. It's like a coordinated
course now it's much easier because we
have the upper brake lights, three
brake lights instead of two at two,
and at different levels. So that gives
me an extra little warning, an extra
little instant for doing what I have
to do without adrenaline pumping me
all over the place and causing me to
be in a state so that I can't do my
job when I get there. I like drivers
who use their brake lights to warn me
ahead of time instead of the last
second. Putting on the brakes can be
considered as a signal to somebody
else. We're objective when we consider
how our actions as drivers affect
other road users. This is because it's
seeing yourself as others see you. As
a driver you have to be aware of what
that is so that you could make the
right decisions and give the right
signals. So, you have two
responsibilities as a driver. Driving
and giving signals. Driving
appropriately and giving appropriate
signals. And, of course, brake lights
are not the only signal we give. Like
right now the speed at which I
approach and the context is just
before an exit. These signal meaning
which must be interpreted. I can't be
an oblivious driver, driving for
myself alone. We have to drive for
others as well as for ourselves.
a motorcyclist ahead of me and he
looks so vulnerable. No helmet. Just a
T-shirt, flying in the wind, among the
cars here. Look at that. He goes from
left to middle to left. He speeds up.
What about motorcyclists and traffic
psychology? There's a connection that
must be made there, too. Look at that
car, uggh. My pet peeve is car
exhaust, dark fumes. I hate that when
a truck or car does it. It's so bad.
I'd vote for a system where we can
call in and report such offensive cars
on the road. If several independent
callers confirm this car's condition,
the owner gets a citation in the mail.
We need to make it more expensive for
motorists who disregard the health and
safety of others.
it that my line is going slower than
the other line? I'm in the left lane
and going slower than the right lane.
Once I tried to switch over and I saw
the bus and I switched right back. And
that was a real dangerous maneuver for
the person behind me. But this must be
a strange phenomenon and illusion.
Your line is always going slower than
the next line. And if it's not, you're
wondering about it: All right. Should
I switch? I should have switched. Oh,
it's too late. No, look, you've got a
long way to go. I should switch. Etc.
it's just easier, just relax, just go.
Now why am I in this lane? I'm just a
wimp. I'm just a loser. Everybody is
going faster on the right and here I
am on the left going nowhere. Why
don't I switch? Just stay here. Just
don't worry about it. Oh, stop it you
big bully! It's this kind of wrangling
with the self that causes stress,
adrenaline, frustration, aggression,
and other unpleasant feelings.
to have a style of driving where I
always went as fast as I could. After
that, when I began to call myself a
reformed driver, I never broke the
speed limit, no matter what. This went
on for several months. And, of course,
I tried to drive in the right-hand
lane whenever possible so as not to
hold up others and incur their wrath.
After some time I decided to go along
with the flow of traffic. If there's
space to close up with the next
convoy, I do. I speed all the way
until the next convoy stops me. I
maintain proper following distance, if
they'll let me. I tend to switch lanes
less than before and my style is more
moderate. Still, I've got to face the
fact -- I regularly break speed
limits. I often drive as if there are
no speed limits and let the road
condition determine how fast I should
go. Many people think this is alright.
I still have my doubts. I need to
learn more traffic psychology.
& Driving Issues
driving sleeves need washing. Makes me
feel like a pro when I get into the
car, put on my seatbelt and my driving
sleeves. During the yearly check up,
my skin doctor always congratulates me
for protecting myself from the sun.
They're a constant presence now,
holding the wheel, putting on the
sleeves. These are about five years
old. Amazing how long they last. Diane
simply cut the sleeves off of one of
my discarded shirts and sewed an
elastic band in to holds it on my
upper arm. Sometimes parking
attendants look at it when I hand over
the money. I feel good wearing them.
this relates to medical aspects of
traffic psychology: sun shades,
driving sleeves, sun glasses, tinted
windows, back rests, portable toilets,
air conditioning, noise abatement, and
other things. We need to encourage
self-witnessing data from special
groups, like the physically
challenged, people returning from
hospital stays, young children, senior
citizens, and so on. Listen to my
tires squealing. Oh, yeah, tires, I
have to go buy tires this week. Why do
my front tires get used up faster than
my back tires?
attribution process is all off wrong.
Now, this man was following me real
close and I said, he wants to make me
reduce the distance between me and the
car ahead of me. So it was annoying
me. Finally the person ahead of me
went to the right lane. So I speeded
up, way ahead, trying to catch up with
the cohort. But this man didn't' speed
up. He just stayed behind. So,
perhaps, all along that was not what
was going on. I had -- I made a
misattribution here. Well, this
happens frequently so it is an
important topic in traffic psychology.
Because attributions about drivers
cannot really be checked, it's best to
adopt a certain policy towards them
like they're always wrong or they're
irrelevant. Instead, follow the
principle of facilitative driving.
straight while you're driving. Your
head could be against the headrest.
Look in your rearview mirror. Look in
your left side mirror. Look in your
right side mirror. Don't move your
head, only your eyes. And now you have
a circle of four places to go to with
your eyes: Alternate between them.
Start front, go left. Move your eyes
to the side middle left. Back to
front. Rearview mirror. Back to front.
Right mirror. Back to front. Left
mirror. Back to front. Rearview
mirror. Back to front. Keep this up
for longer and longer periods. It will
train your eyes to obtain visual
information all around the car on a
regular basis, thus avoiding impulsive
disasters, such as suddenly changing
lanes while there's a car in the blind
feature of this exercise is you keep
your back straight and you hold your
stomach in. See how long you can hold
your stomach in. See how long you can
remember to hold your stomach in. It's
very difficult to remember for more
than a few seconds. Then a minute or
two goes by, then you remember again.
Then ten minutes go by, then you
remember again. It's very hard to keep
it up. Well, it's a healthy thing to
do. It's good for your posture. It's a
healthy way of driving, of doing
something while you're driving that's
our book Road Rage
and Aggressive Driving