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U.S. House Committee

Aggressive Driving

Committee.: Transportation and Infrastructure, Sub Committee.: Surface Transportation
Washington, DC
Date : 07/17/97
ID : 88022 Length : 3:10 Price : $210.00

Beach, Robert, Commander, Fairfax County, VA
Fraser, Brenda, Director, Citizens Against Speeding and Aggressive
Hedlund, James, Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Admin.
James, Leon, Professor, University of Hawaii
Judycki, Dennis, Associate Administrator, Federal Highway Administration
Kaufman, Adam, Legislative Affairs Director, Citizens Against Speeding and Aggressive
Martinez, Ricardo, Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Admin.
Nerenberg, Arnold, Director, Whittier Mental Health Services
Petri, Thomas, U.S. Representative 1979-, R-WI
Recht, Philip, Deputy Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Admin.
Sheikh, Lisa, Founding Director, Citizens Against Speeding and Aggressive
Snyder, David, Assistant General Counsel, American Insurance Association
Stone, Judith Lee, President, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety
Williams, Allan, Senior Vice President, Insurance Inst. for Highway Safety
Willis, David, President, American Automobile Association

20:57 Members' opening statments (0:21)
21:15 Martinez, Hedlund, Judyck panel (1:24)
22:40 Willis, Sheikh, Kaufman, Fraser, Beach panel (0:59)
23:29 Williams, Snyder, Stone, James panel (0:37)


Subcommittee members heard testimony from auto safety advocates concerning aggressive driving in the U.S. and enforcement measures. Mr. Martinez testified that "road rage", or drivers becoming frustrated by other motorists and violently confronting them, is responsible for two-thirds of traffic deaths in the United States. Dr. Nerenberg said he considered "road rage" a mental disorder. Mr. Willis said that a study of aggressive drivers shows that most are between the ages of 18 and 26 and are poorly educated with criminal records.

Copyright 1998 Purdue Research Foundation


Twenty eight thousand Americans died last year

Twenty eight thousand Americans died last year because of aggressive driving. There are close to two billion episodes of road rage per year in our nation. The risk of criminal and economic consequences of road rage is high. Eighty three percent of commercial drivers will be involved in a road rage incident. This is the first definitive book on the subject by two leading experts who have pioneered a new approach to driver improvement. This book will save lives. Give it to a loved one after reading it yourself.
Dr. Arnold Nerenberg, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychologist and Road Rage Therapist


December 23, 2000

When Attacks

(...)

The term "road rage" was introduced in the late 1980s and has been listed in The Oxford English Dictionary since 1997. Road rage is defined as "a violent anger caused by the stress and frustration of driving in heavy traffic." Having been inducted into the dictionary is a sure sign that road rage has had a serious, if not shattering, impact on driving in the United States. The above definition, as we know, is not completely accurate because, when driving in sparse traffic on a country road, we can become just as aggressive and outraged. You know who you are.

More cars, frustrated drivers and not enough pavement. According to many researchers, the overly crowded roads are one major reason for the increase in road rage; within our daily lives there seems to be higher levels of stress and anxiety, which can overflow into our driving. We have become so rushed that we do not have enough patience to deal with a slow-moving car. Instead, we regress to using obscene gestures and verbally abusing other drivers.

Spiraling statistics abound on aggressive driving in the United States. These statistics have forced us to re-think our driving etiquette. As a society, we are aware that this is a problem -- road rage listed in the dictionary is a big clue -- so let's start acting on the awareness. As responsible drivers, a review of basic road rules may be a good idea, such as: signaling before a lane change; allowing cars to merge; and the one that gets many drivers in trouble . . . stop tailgating!

It is amazing how much a person changes while driving. I am no exception. I can be engaged in conversation with my passenger, when all of a sudden, I interrupt by saying, "Look at this guy! What is he doing?" That is the mild version. When I have had a particularly stressful day, people on the road seem to be driving really bad. Sometimes I break the cardinal rule -- "Don't make eye contact with an aggressive driver" -- because I just have to see what that idiot driver looks like. I do not regularly criticize people; however, while driving I become the worst critic and use the most abrasive language. Wow, what must my passenger be thinking?

Which brings me to a powerful point from Dr. Leon James, Ph.D. (aka "Dr. Driving"). James believes that "your driving decisions and actions express your personality style and character. How you act and react, how you think and feel, are the automatic result of what you see, what you believe and what you have learned to do by habit." So if we are all swearing at one another, gesturing and cutting one another off because somebody else started it, what does that say about us?

James is a Traffic-Psychology professor at the University of Hawaii and has been researching the psychology of driving due to his own Dr. Jekyl-and-Mr. Hyde transformations when driving, often making his own passengers nervous. James is a firm believer that we may not be able to change our emotions by an act of will, but that we can use self-modification techniques to suppress the habits of certain thoughts and feelings. Therefore, we must take on the responsibility ourselves, before pushing it upon others and exposing passengers to our dark sides.

When driving with young children in the car, it is especially important to curb the road- rage outbreaks. As children are sponges and will imitate the examples that surround them, maybe flipping off the car behind you is not the best role-model decision. Or maybe getting to the grocery store in record time becomes less pertinent. Children who witness this kind of behavior ultimately will carry on the same hostile attitudes, thus making even more passengers in the future close their eyes and grip the door handle.

James encourages the process of "self-witnessing." We must begin to utilize the advice about road rage. Learn from the horrible incidents that have been in headlines and that we, ourselves, have experienced. James supplies a workbook and activities for children, which will aid in showing drivers what they look like through the eyes of a young passenger. These workbooks may be accessed through James' site at: http://DrDriving.org/carr/

Think about your passengers before instinctively throwing your arm in the air to raise that infamous finger. Once we realize that we have choices on the road -- just as in our daily lives -- we may be able to enjoy driving again. Choose to act, not react, to situations on the road and, as Dr. Driving says, "Drive with Aloha Spirit."

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ABCnews.com

Associated Pressa
Warning Signs In Pa.,
a Unique Campaign Against Road Rage

Oct. 6 — If motorists on a particularly frantic stretch of Philadelphia roadway don’t know the dangers of road rage yet, officials there hope new signs will serve as daily reminders. “Beware of Aggressive Drivers” blares one black and orange sign, while others read “Don’t Tailgate” and “Slow Down — Save a Life.” Communities across the nation are grappling with road rage, the anger that boils within some drivers and causes them to weave in and out of traffic, drive too fast on crowded highways, tailgate, scream at fellow motorists and toss occasional obscene gestures. At best, road rage creates a harrowing atmosphere on roadways, at worst it can cost lives. While statistics released this week show highway traffic deaths remained about the same last year from 1998, speed-related fatalities increased slightly from 12,509 to 12,628 in 1999, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Drive Nice, Win Latte

Leon James, author of Road Rage: Steering Clear of Highway Warfare, said New Jersey had recently posted temporary road signs urging people to “Drive Friendly,” and a St. Louis bridge repair bore signs warning drivers: “Expect to Be Frustrated.” The approach is slightly different in Berkeley, Calif., where traffic cops are known to hand out coupons for free gourmet coffee drinks to drivers who stick to the speed limit. But James says the Philadelphia effort is the first where permanent warning signs have been planted. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation began posting the messages in a northern Philadelphia suburb last week near busy Interstate 476 hoping to calm problem stretches of highway. More signs were to be planted today on other state routes. Targeting driver behavior is crucial to reducing accidents, said DOT spokesman Ron Young. “There is no room to build new roads, so we have to make the best of what we have,” he said.

Motorists Skeptical of Signs The signs might even migrate to local roads where more than 250 crashes in the last five years have been blamed on aggressive driving tactics such as tailgating, improper lane-changing or speeding, the department said. So far, the verdict from motorists has been mixed. “People drive like it is the Indy 500. I get clammy hands, and then I start to sweat,” said Jennifer Middleman, 34. “Those signs won’t make any difference on this road.” “People have no respect for the other driver,” said Chris Fetters, 39. “They are in a hurry. They just want you to get out of their way.”

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San Antonio

I have had the opportunity to work with Dr. James through our aggressive driving program here in San Antonio. There is no doubt he is the foremost expert on the subject. Although I have not been able to read the complete book at this time I have skimmed through it and it appears to reflect many of the ideas we have discussed over the previous few months. Through his guidance we have established what I feel is a very comprehensive aggressive driver program here.
Any aggressive driving program must be a comprehensive team effort of education, enforcement and a strong judicial effort. The police alone can not be the only element in an anti-aggressive driver program. The officers in the program must be trained in not only what behaviors identify a person as an aggressive driver but also why that person behaves in that manner. The public must be made aware of and constantly reminded of what constitutes aggressive driving and how to deal with out ever increasing traffic congestion and lack of driving manners by other drivers. Enforcement must re-enforce those sanctions against bad driving while being supported by a judicial system that can not only impose monetary punishment when necessary but also act as an extension of the re-education effort.

In a time period when we are all bombarded with a constant messages of "do it now" and "just do it" and other messages of instant gratification, patience and tolerance seem to have disappeared from many individuals life styles. Voluntary compliance to traffic laws and conditions must be the goal of any aggressive driver campaign and regular and constant awareness and education must play a large part in this effort. Dr. James efforts go a long way in accomplishing this goal.

Tom Polonis, Captain
San Antonio Police Department
Commander, Technical Support Section

 


Cutting another driver off

According to studies, the four top causes of road rage are cutting another driver off, driving slowly in the left lane, tailgating and obscene gestures. The favorite weapon of choice? The vehicle itself, followed by guns, fists/feet, tire irons, baseball bats and knives. Contributing factors to road rage include running late, bad day/bad mood, overcrowding, noise/temperature and other drivers.

The Detroit News

 


Prometheus Books Publishers

Road Rage and Aggressive Driving: Steering Clear of Highway Warfare

Leon James and Diane Nahl

Do you drive with stress and frustration? Do you frequently complain about other drivers or get involved in hostile interactions with other motorists? Are you afraid for your teenage drivers in this climate of highway warfare? We're in the midst of an escalating epidemic of aggressive driving, which eats up 250 billion dollars a year in economic cost and causes the misery associated with 6 million injuries every year. Now the government has declared war on road rage with tough new laws that can land people in jail for behaviors they're used to doing every day.

Traffic psychology educators Dr. Leon James and Dr. Diane Nahl trace the aggressive driving problem to its roots in childhood when child passengers imbibe their parents' aggressiveness towards other motorists and their cynicism towards regulations and the law. By the time teenagers begin to drive they've been exposed to years of media portrayals of the fun and excitement of aggressive driving with no serious consequences. The authors argue that road rage and aggressive driving are common traffic emotions experienced by the vast majority of drivers.

This authoritative book-the first to synthesize the subject of aggressive driving-presents conclusions of recent studies, highlights citizen activism, and summarizes legislative and police initiatives. Besides vivid anecdotal evidence and personal stories of typical road rage incidents that we have all experienced, James and Nahl present self-tests that readers can use to estimate their own road rage tendency, and they prescribe activities to help every driver learn self-improvement and self-awareness skills behind the wheel. The authors outline their innovative three-step program to help people transform themselves from aggressive to supportive drivers.

This book redefines driver education for all drivers, including commercial drivers and truckers. Our traffic emotions need to be trained, the authors stress, and they provide the explanations and activities needed to strengthen critical thinking about road events.

Leon James, Ph.D. (Honolulu, HI), the nation's foremost authority on road rage and aggressive driving, is frequently quoted in the nation's press and has raised the standard of discussion on this topic. His expert testimony at congressional hearings in July 1997 helped legislators to realize that aggressive driving is a cultural problem. Diane Nahl, Ph.D. (Honolulu, HI), is associate professor of Information and Computer Sciences in the Library and Information Science Program at the University of Hawaii and is the founder of the new field of Driving Informatics. Dr. Nahl and Dr. James have authored the RoadRageous aggressive-driving video course, which is used in driving schools and court-mandated traffic violator schools. They're also active in aggressive-driving prevention training for law enforcement, and their Web site at DrDriving.org provides services for older drivers, commercial drivers, and teen drivers.

PAGES: 275 pp ISBN: 1-57392-846-1 BINDING: Paper PRICE: $19 SIZE: 6 x 9
CATEGORY: Social Science & Current Events

 


Eh Bra’, this ain’t the Madland

Road Rage in Hawai`i


Two University of Hawai`i Professors, Dr. Leon James and Dr. Diane Nahl, are known as the foremost road rage experts. They have been interviewed by hundreds of reporters and have been quoted in the major national news media in the past five years. Surprised reporters ask “How can you have road rage in Hawai`i?”. While we are known to the world as a peaceful paradise, Hawai`i residents are just as vulnerable to the road rage epidemic. Last year many incidents were reported on O`ahu alone:

In January, a 36-year-old man was arrested and another man was injured when a driver got out of his car armed with a golf club and smashed the rear and front windows of a 21-year-old man’s car. He used the shaft of the golf club to jab the man in the neck before driving off. He turned himself into police soon after and was arrested for first-degree criminal property damage and unlawful entry into a car.

In another incident in January, a man yelled at a car that was speeding near a supermarket. The driver turned the car around and beat up the 41-year-old man. Police booked him for second-degree assault.

In March, a 28-year-old woman was arrested in a road rage case. She followed a woman who had cut her off to a 7-Eleven store and punched her in the mouth. The woman was booked for unlawful entry into a motor vehicle, a felony.

In April, a motorist was arrested in Waikiki for punching another driver after being involved in a traffic incident that started with an argument. The attacker, 30, got out of his car, reached in the other driver’s car and punched the man, 48, in the face. He was booked for unlawful entry into a motor vehicle and second-degree terroristic threatening.
In July, a man and a woman travelling in a car with four children, ages 4 through 11, started quarreling and their car struck a highway barrier. In the heat of the argument, the woman grabbed the steering wheel veering toward an off-ramp. Then the driver turned the wheel back and lost control. The car crossed three lanes before crashing into the median. The hatchback popped open and the 4-year old flew out, falling 30 feet to the street below.

In September, a man threatened a 25-year-old man with his car in a bout of road rage. The victim was cut off by the suspect’s car and words were exchanged, which prompted him to follow the victim. He rammed the victim’s car from behind and sped away. The victim followed the attacker’s car who then made a U-turn and attempted to hit the victim’s car head on, forcing the car to run into a parked vehicle.

In October, an out-of-control van rammed two cars, including one filled with four children, and barreled into a lei stand, pinning its 74-year-old owner against a refrigerator. The occupants of the van got into a confrontation when one of the van’s passengers was stabbed by someone in the other car after he yelled at the driver to slow down. The van sped away and rammed into a parked red sports car with the four children inside.

And in January of this year, a 36-year-old man was arrested after a 19-year-old man told police the other driver cut him off abruptly. This caused him to collide with the car. The other driver then punched in the window of the 19-year old, showering him with glass that cut his face and arms. The 36-year-old man was arrested for first-degree criminal property damage.

Leon James and Diane Nahl, authors of the new book “Road Rage and Aggressive Driving: Steering Clear of Highway Warfare,” warn parents to protect their children from picking up the road rage habit as they ride with their parents and absorb their hostile attitudes. When kids start driving, years of exposure to aggressive driving automatically comes out in unconscious habits that put young drivers at great risk. Driving fatalities are the main cause of death among 16 to 20-year olds. Last year 41,000 people died in traffic collisions and 6 million suffered major injuries in automobile crashes. Experts estimate that the majority of these crashes could be avoided if drivers stopped their aggressive ways.

Aggressive driving habits are so ingrained that most people aren’t aware. Surveys reported by the authors show that 80 percent of drivers complain about the aggressive driving of others but only 30 percent admit to driving aggressively. Their road rage book describes a Three-step Program people can use to shrink this “awareness gap” and achieve control over their traffic emotions. The authors define aggressive driving as the desire to impose one’s own level of risk on others and trying to force others to drive according to their own standards. Road rage is a state of anger leading to aggressive behavior in words, gestures, assault or battery. They present a variety of road rage types including Jekyll-Hyde, passive aggressive, constant complainer, verbal attacker, rushing maniac, vigilante and scofflaw. End of chapter checklists help readers assess their risk for road rage.

The driver’s prime directive is to remain in control of the vehicle, the self and the situation. In a zero-tolerance society, people have an attitude and a sense of entitlement that destroys harmony and emphasizes retaliation. This is a quick formula for loss of control since you don’t know how the driver you flipped off will react, whether to ignore you or pursue you. It’s about choices. We can choose to practice civility and aloha or its opposite. By restoring a sense of community on highways and becoming supportive drivers we can reduce the daily commute stress that has become a health hazard to everyone.

The two experts trace the history of road rage to 19th century England, where “furious driving” laws were passed to control horse drawn carriages barreling through town on Saturday nights after drivers left taverns in a drunken state. Since 1981, England has passed tough road rage laws that land motorists in jail who yell or threaten other drivers. This year in the U.S. tough new aggressive driving bills are being considered in 22 States, including Hawai`i. Several new laws raise the penalty for aggressive driving
to a felony and give police the right to impound offending vehicles. The federal government supports anti-aggressive driving initiatives by police departments throughout the country.

For free information on road rage please visit the authors’ Web site: <http://www.DrDriving.org>

Road Rage by State

The states with the highest “aggressive-driving death rates” (deaths per 100,000 people), according to the Surface Transportation Policy Project of the National Transportation Library:

1. South Carolina 15.1
2. Wyoming 13.9
3. Alabama 13.7
4. Kansas 13.7
5. Oklahoma 13.6
6. New Mexico 12.9
7. North Carolina 12.4
8. Arkansas 12.4
9. Idaho 11.9
10. Florida 11.7

Your Road Range Tendency Checklist
From the book
Road Rage and Aggressive Driving: Steering Clear of Highway Warfare
(Prometheus Books, 2000) by Leon James and Diane Nahl.

Instructions: For each question, circle Yes if the statement applies to you reasonably well, or No if it doesn’t.

1. I swear a lot more in traffic than I do elsewhere.
Yes No
2. I normally have critical thoughts about other drivers.
Yes No
3. When a driver in a parking lot tries to steal the space I’ve been waiting for, I get furious.
Yes No
4. I fantasize about doing violence to other drivers (e.g., using guns or blowing them up or sweeping them aside). But it’s just fantasy.
Yes No
5. When drivers do something really “stupid” that endangers me or my car, I get furious, even aggressive.
Yes No
6. It’s good to get your anger out because we all have aggressive feelings inside that naturally come out under stressful situations.
Yes No
7. When I’m very upset about something, it’s a relief to step on the gas to give my feelings an outlet.
Yes No
8. I feel that it’s important to force certain drivers to behave appropriately on the highway.
Yes No
9. Pedestrians shouldn’t have the right to walk slowly in crosswalks when cars are waiting.
Yes No
10. Pushy drivers really annoy me so I bad-mouth them to feel better.
Yes No
11. I tailgate when someone drives too slow for conditions or in the passing lane.
Yes No
12. I try to get to my destination in the shortest time possible, or else it doesn’t feel right.
Yes No
13. If I stopped driving aggressively others would take advantage of my passivity.
Yes No
14. I feel unpleasant emotions when someone beats me to the light or when someone gets through and I’m stuck on red.
Yes No
15. I feel energized by the sense of power and competition I experience while driving aggressively.
Yes No
16. I hate speed bumps and speed limits that are set too low.
Yes No
17. Once in a while I get so frustrated in traffic that I begin to drive somewhat recklessly.
Yes No
18. I hate large trucks and I refuse to drive differently around them.
Yes No
19. Sometimes I feel that I’m holding up traffic so I start driving faster than I feel comfortable.
Yes No
20. I would feel embarrassed to “get stuck” behind a large vehicle on a steep road.
Yes No

Scoring your answers:

Give yourself 1 road rage point for every Yes answer. How many do you have? Interpreting your score: Scores range from 0 to 20. Few drivers ever get 0 because road rage emotions are habitual and cultural. We all have some tendency toward it sometimes. The higher the score, the more likely it is that you will be the victim of road rage trouble. Typical scores range from 5 to 20 with an average of 12.
If your score is less than 5 you’re not an aggressive driver and your road rage tendency is manageable. Scores between 5 and 10 indicate that you have moderate road rage habits of driving. If your score is greater than 10 your road rage tendency is out of control, enough to compromise your ability to remain calm and fair in certain routine, but challenging driving situations.

MauiTtime Magazine January 16, 2001


May 28, 1998

The Weekender Magazine

Road Rage:
That Stretch Of Road To Utopia Known As
The Highway To Hell

by Gary Childress

For some of us, the road of life leads to a place where we can escape the tortures of living on an overcrowded and hostile planet. We bring the elements we treasure from the outside world, such as the movie theater, into our homes so that we rarely have to venture out into the madness. But in order to attain such extravagances, we are driven outside to something called a Home Show.

Of course, we’re not alone in our quest for solitude. Everyone and their Uncle Elsworth are in search of the holy Home Show, and as a result, we spend a day living in our cars, surrounded by the same people we so desperately wish to escape. Tensions rise as we inch toward the mecca, trying to outmaneuver the others in a race that can’t be won. It is here that an unwanted passenger boards our vehicle. That passenger is road rage.

Just who is this hostile “hitcher?” According to Dr. Driving (Dr. Leon James), Professor of Psychology at the University of Hawaii with 15 years of teaching experience in traffic psychology under his seat belt, road rage is basically a “culture tantrum” any feelings of anger or aggression that present themselves when we’re put in harm’s way by the careless and aggressive driving patterns of others.

The good doctor has broken down the components of aggressive driving into five increasingly severe zones. The Unfriendly Zone ranges from mere mental condemnation to the outright denial of lane space. The Hostile Zone consists of presenting another driver with the “stink eye,” or any other means of visualizing disgust, making passing an impossibility, or tailgating. The Violent Zone is where we fantasize of physical damage to another driver, flipping the bird or using the car to make sudden, threatening maneuvers. The Lesser Mayhem Zone finds us in pursuit of another vehicle because of some provocation or insult, engaging in a verbal dispute, packing heat in the car just in case, playing freeway bumper cars, or running another car off the road. The Major Mayhem Zone involves the actual beating of another driver, running someone down, the use of firearms on the road, and ultimately killing someone.

“The fuel that drives aggressiveness on the road is the false assumption that it’s the action of the other driver that makes us hostile, that triggers our aggressive response,” the Dr. Driving points out. “But the offending act does not automatically trigger the aggressive response, it merely creates an opportunity for an attack in order to express righteous indignation.”

Wait a minute. How did this demon get aboard in the first place? Turns out he’s always been there, ever since we were children. While we were tormenting our parents from the back of the station wagon, he was tormenting them right along with us. Only he got to ride up front.

Dr. Driving says we inherited these aggressive and dangerous driving behaviors from our parents, and then they were reinforced by what we saw in movies and on television.

Since then, life as we know it has developed a bit of a lead foot, bearing down on the gas and hurling us into whatever lay ahead. We feel a loss of control; that is until we’re behind the wheel. At least that’s how Dr. Driving explains it. When someone starts stepping all over that control, that’s when the road rage character starts playing with the heat. Are you going to let the heat get the best of you, or are you going to take control again and turn on the air conditioning?

“Cars are an extension of the self,” explains the doctor.

“They are ego-laden objects that can be used both positively and negatively to get our way on the road. The automobile offers us a means to exercise direct control over our environment.”

According to a New York Times poll in Washington, D.C., 42 percent of residents see road ragers as the terror of the road, while only 35 percent give that honor to drunk drivers. Insurance companies are now refusing policies for aggressive drivers and rates are being cut for peaceable drivers. The annual bill society pays for 5 million crashes and 40,000 deaths is around 150 billion dollars, not to mention pain and suffering.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that the credit for 28,000 traffic deaths every year in the U.S. goes to our angry little stowaway. One hundred billion dollars per year in medical and lost productivity costs would be nonexistent without him.

A lot of cold, meaningless numbers, huh? They don’t provide much comfort for the bus driver pinned to his bus by the car of a motorist he’d angered, the toddler shot dead because of his father’s middle finger or the woman forced to jump off of the Detroit bridge because she sideswiped somebody.

What can we do, short of becoming nothing more than pedestrians, to ward off this invisible invader? Do we remove the hogs of the road and send them off to some clinic for a psychological evaluation?

Dr. Driving says that aggressive driving is a cultural norm. The solution lies in social-cultural restructuring, not clinical therapy.

In a study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, these tips were found to be combatant in the war on road warriors: Don’t take traffic problems personally, avoid eye contact, don’t make obscene gestures, don’t tailgate, use your horn sparingly, don’t block the passing lane and don’t block the right hand turn lane.

Dr. Driving suggests “behavioral modification techniques to manage competitive impulses, or inner power tools for smart driving.” Attitude of latitude is one of these tools in which emotionally intelligent thinking allows drivers to see beyond the situation at hand to possible causes for driving faux pas, and introduces caution for dealing with idiots of the genuine article.

Another of these inner power tools is AWM, an acronym in which A stands for acknowledge, W for witness yourself and M for modify your habits one step at a time. First, act the exact opposite of what you feel. Then, interrupt that anger; sing a happy tune, immerse yourself in guttural moan therapy, count the ridiculous bumper stickers on the minivan in front of you, do relaxation exercises, whatever. Then tell yourself what a nice person you are, and how you wish to maintain a respectable reputation and do the right thing and I don’t mean set fire to Sal’s Pisize="3eria.

Dr. John Larson, stress aficionado, suggests creating a soothing atmosphere with music that is a beat slower than your heartbeat. Cooperate with traffic and traffic will cooperate with you. Keep an eye out for your fellow motorists, and if your senses pick up impending danger, notify the authorities.

Britain’s Automobile Association is venturing into the world of aroma therapy as a possible relief for road rage. A device that heats pleasant-smelling oils, wafting them about the car, could help to instill a feeling of emotional well-being in frustrated motorists. The final word isn’t out yet, but if you’re experimental in your nature, you may want to head out and grab yourself one of those aroma therapy candles. (I don’t think the air freshener is going to cut it.)

Keep your doors locked and your eyes peeled for our mysterious cohort as you’re out gallivanting this summer. Under no circumstances let him in. Most likely he’ll be lurking behind the wheel of a vehicle with out-of-state plates, or on that God-awful mess on the outskirts of Dunmore they call I-81. They seem to be making that up as they go along. Dr. Driving, aka Dr. Leon James, Professor of Psychology at the University of Hawaii, was kind enough to answer questions I specifically targeted for Weekender readers. Below, expert answers and advice to remember on your summer road trips. ~Shana

I’m stuck in a never ending line of summer concert traffic, and the driver behind me is blaring his/her horn and yelling “directions” for me to follow but there’s nothing I can do but sit and wait with the hundreds of other drivers. What’s the best way to handle impatient drivers in a traffic jam?

DD: We know in advance that we’re going to be surrounded by impatient drivers. So it doesn’t make good sense to wait until then to ask the question: Now what do I do? Yet most people naturally do just that. Well, if you are unprepared, follow what safety and law officials tell us: Don’t lock eyes; don’t gesture; don’t get involved; proceed on your way. And perhaps: pray and hope for the best. And when it’s over, you can warn yourself that you need to be prepared for the next such episode.

To prepare ourselves, we need to gradually develop a different driving personality. It takes motivation and practice. Eventually drivers have to realize the spiritual dimension of driving, namely, the character we have as a driver whether supportive or hostile, whether rational or impatient, whether calm or frustrated. We all need to remember that driving is a social affair, something we do together, and so we can hurt one another or support one another.

Do you believe that cellular phone use while driving contributes to road rage?

DD: Some of us see other drivers using phones and are worried: Are they alert or are they distracted? Chances are they are distracted, so we have a reason to worry. Some of us are using phones while driving. Have we trained ourselves appropriately, or do we just go ahead and do whatever we feel like? We need to acknowledge as a population that driving is getting more complicated and challenging, and that we need to give people the means for training themselves.

If you could offer three tips to remember before making tracks on the highway during the upcoming summer months of travel, what would they be?

DD: Prepare for it by training yourself ahead of time. 1. Use a Driving Log to keep track of how you drive, what risks and mistakes you make, when you get angry. 2. Discuss and reflect upon what it shows, how you want to change, what you want to change. Remember: Driving is a bundle of habits. 3. Practice each new little habit for a while, then go on to all the rest, one by one. Soon you’ll be a more alert, more confident, calmer driver. You’ll be contributing to positive change. Remember: The way you drive is contagious.

Road Rage: Emotional Intelligence For Drivers is Dr. James’ forthcoming text, and Dr. Driving’s Road Rage Video, distributed by the American Institute for Public Safety (AIPS), is currently available. For additional information from Dr. Leon James, refer to his web site address, carrying features helpful to drivers who want to train themselves: DrDriving.org

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Monday, Aug. 28, 2000

Maniacs at the wheel:

Cranky, aggressive drivers are turning the morning commute into a competitive sport

By Liz Stevens
Star-Telegram Staff Writer

(...)

Maybe I have unrealistic standards. Maybe I'm just grouchy. But it seems to me that there are an inordinate number of morons behind the wheel these days and that they simply couldn't care less about the rest of us good, kind folks.

They tailgate. They weave precariously. They speed. They run stop signs. They yell and make scary faces and offer up their middle finger.

It can make a girl, well, `upset.'

This bad behavior is not road rage, which, strictly speaking, involves physical violence inflicted on one driver by another. (Road rage incidents, for all their hype, aren't commonplace.) The egregious conduct I'm talking about is stuff we encounter on the road every day.

The rude stuff. The dumb stuff. The stuff you're sure to witness this Labor Day weekend.

The experts call it aggressive driving, and it's a bit of a conundrum for those who study it. Here's why: The roads are actually safer than they've ever been. In 1999, the traffic accident death rate was more than three-and-a-half times `lower' than it was in 1966 -- thanks to seat belts, safer vehicles and safer roads.

That doesn't mean that thousands of people still aren't dying unnecessarily -- 41,345 last year, to be exact. But it also doesn't jibe with the studies indicating that Americans are increasingly concerned that their fellow commuters are driving like kamikazes.

According to annual surveys by AAA Mid-Atlantic, the number of Washington, D.C.-area drivers who name aggressive driving as the top threat on the road has risen each of the past five years. In February, it peaked at 53 percent, up 7 percent from last year.

(...)

The problem has not gone unnoticed by police and elected officials. Numerous state legislatures have passed or considered laws cracking down on aggressive driving. Two years ago, Dallas Police responded with the Strategic Targeting Against Road Rage patrol. Tomorrow, San Antonio officially kicks off an elaborate public-awareness program, complete with billboards and television spots.

And this week, the book Road Rage and Aggressive Driving, by Leon James (aka "Dr. Driving") and wife, Diane Nahl, arrives on store shelves.

The two University of Hawaii professors have studied driving behavior since 1981 and teach a class in traffic psychology. Their expansive Web site, http://aloha.net/\Pdyc, includes James' 1997 Congressional testimony on aggressive driving and results from their Web-based surveys (see accompanying story).

There are a variety of reasons why people might be more impatient and impulsive on the byways. For one, congestion is epidemic in the cities and suburbs, and commutes are longer.

(...)

The menacing Dodge Ram. The snooty Mercedes. The bratty Ford Focus. (Or, in my case, the minding-her-own-business Honda Civic, which has just a slight problem gaining speed when entering the freeway, so excuuuuse me!)

Conversely, Americans have a tendency to view their cars as an extension of themselves, as a tool to assert freedom, machismo or authority, contends James. "When we enter a car," he writes, "we use it as an outlet for regaining a sense of control."

But James and Nahl take it a step further: Aggressive driving behaviors, they say, are learned years before we merit that first driver's license.

"Our basic premise is that aggressive driving is a cultural norm," Nahl explains, "that we grew up [sitting] in the back seats of our parents' cars and watching television in which drivers are very aggressive and get away with it all the time. We simply absorbed it as children."

"Part of the problem is we keep track in our heads how well we're doing out there," she adds. "So if cars are passing us we lose points. In our own mind, we're losing the game. If we pass others, we win points; we're winning the game."

One of the challenges with aggressive driving is that it begets more aggressive driving. Drunken drivers don't make us drunk, sleepy drivers don't make us sleepy, but obnoxious drivers turn us from Jekyll into Hyde. We want to punish the driver who was rude to us, teach her a lesson, vent our disapproval.

This is my problem. I'm a tad righteous behind the wheel.

Fortunately, Nahl and James dedicate several chapters of their book to dealing with aggressive drivers (in a word: don't), as well as a three-step program aimed at changing our driving personalities. Part of the San Antonio program includes handing out Traffic Enforcement Education (TEE) cards developed by the professors that includes a self-assessment test (which you can take on Page TK).

Nahl and James advocate an aggressive-driving component in driver's education courses and a pseudo-group-therapy model they call Quality Driving Circles, where concerned drivers get together to vent and exchange ideas.

Eventually, Nahl believes, aggressive driving "will become an unacceptable behavior" on par with drunken driving, "partly because the laws are changing" and partly because, well, who needs the stress?

(...)

 


July 31, 2000

Summertime, and the Driving Ain't Easy
Road Rage Heats Up With the Sun
-- and Rush Hour, Too
Valerie Andrews
HealthSCOUT
DrKoop.com

If you're driving home at the end of a hard week at work, you need to watch your temper while you're watching the traffic.

Road rage, which has overtaken drunk driving as the leading hazard on the nation's highways, heats up considerably in the summertime rush, according to a pilot study of aggressive driving incidents.

(...)

Most people who spend any time behind the wheel of a car have probably seen or heard about an ugly incident. Almost 13,000 people were injured or killed between 1990 and 1996 as a result of hostile driving, according to the AAA. And road rage incidents climbed from 1,129 in 1990, the year the organization started tracking them, to 1,800 in 1996, the most recent year for which statistics are available.

'A habit acquired in childhood'
"It is a growing problem because every generation adds to it. [Aggressive driving] is the norm," says Leon James, a psychology professor at the University of Hawaii who specializes in traffic psychology and is currently writing a book on road rage.

"Road rage is a habit acquired in childhood," James testified before a U.S. House of Representatives' subcommittee on transportation. "Children are reared in a car culture that condones irate expressions as part of the normal wear and tear of driving. Once they enter a car, children notice that all of a sudden the rules have changed: It's OK to be mad, very upset, out of control, and use bad language that's ordinarily not allowed."

The professor focuses on teaching students how to combat that anger. In one of his classes, students must watch TV shows and report the examples of aggressive driving where the drivers are not punished. They rarely are, he says.

"By the time children are 15 or 16, they've witnessed, either in real life or on television, thousands of bad examples of aggressive driving," he says. "Their reality is distorted."

Ironically, he says, hostile driving, like not letting someone cut in front of you in a traffic jam, actually slows down traffic.

"If we thought of traffic as something that requires teamwork -- something we all have to get through -- instead of as a win/lose situation," he adds, the traffic would actually flow more smoothly and speedily.

 


Date: Thu, 19 Oct 2000 16

From: ljw@m.com
To: DrDriving@DrDriving.org

Subject: ROAD RAGE IN MIAMI
DrDriving:
I went online tonight to try to understand why drivers act so irrationally. I was a victim of road rage tonight and it scared me to death. A man ran a stop sign when I was traveling on a main avenue. He became furious and tried to hit my car, even though he was the one to run the stop sign. He continued to follow me and approached me at the red light. He thought I had run a stop sign. I explained I had no stop sign and he became threatening. He began acting as if he wanted to beat me up. He even slammed on his brakes and risked traffic hitting him from behind. I went straight to the gas station, He followed me. He began screaming at me and I told him I was calling the police because he was following me. He said he didn't care. He then leaned into his car and brought out his baby! I told him I couldn't believe he was risking his baby's life by his behavior and driving. He didn't care. A nice person at the station told him that they saw me pull in first and knew he was following me. He still wouldn't leave and continued to say horrible things. I finally left and told him not to follow me.

I was so shook up I didn't go to my class and went straight home. I feel afraid because tomorrow I have to drive my kids to school and what if he is around. What if there is no nice person to help me? I appreciate having access to this information. Maybe I can learn tips to never be a victim again.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear ljw,

What happened to you is pretty common nowadays. Fortunately, it's not likely to happen twice in a row--if you take care to reduce the likelihood.

You need to learn some principles. I recommend that you read our new book where we discuss this at length and provide excercises you can do. But in the meantime try to review exactly what happened, the sequence of steps, and you will discover that you had more than one opportunity to avoid the encounter. Write it down and an analysis.

Let me know if you come up with something. I think this will protect you, and help you avoid the same thing again.

Leon James
DrDriving.org

 


October 31, 1999

Most motorists at times drive aggressively
By Launce Rake
LAS VEGAS SUN

Are you driving dangerously?

Experts say you might be surprised by the answer. It turns out that most motorists drive aggressively at some time or another.

And many drivers who would not consider reacting violently in other situations can become violent when confronted on the road, says Dr. Leon James, a University of Hawaii psychologist and researcher of aggressive driving and road rage.

But road rage can be avoided and aggressive driving controlled, James and others agree.

The first rule: Don't offend other drivers by cutting them off, driving slowly in the left lane, tailgating or making obscene gestures, Erin Breen, director of the Safe Community Partnership, said. That can be easier said than done. James said he's seen people try to adjust their driving over months and years.

But he is convinced that it can be done -- because he's done it himself, after his wife complained of the way he acted in traffic.

The first step is to do a self-examination, to look at the way you drive and react to others' driving, James said. He suggests taking notes after each drive, asking yourself: How many times did I lose my temper? How do I feel now?

Once you have an idea of the mistakes you make, you can then make a conscious effort to modify your behavior, he said.

"Pick one thing to change on every trip," James suggested.

"We need systematic self-modification techniques," he said. "We need to train ourselves as a driver to be emotionally intelligent."

(...)

original here

 


ABOUT THE BOOK

ROAD RAGE AND AGGRESSIVE DRIVING is the first comprehensive book on a subject that has been in the media headlines since 1996. It covers the societal context of legislation, enforcement, education, psychology, and citizen activism, in addition to the personal stories of the victims and the perpetrators of highway warfare. James and Nahl give a detailed description of the driver's private world behind the wheel. Their unique self-witnessing technique has motorists record themselves by thinking aloud while negotiating in traffic, capturing the life drama of the driver's thoughts and emotions. The authors uncover the cultural roots of hostility behind the wheel that sets drivers against each other, tracing it to childhood when we are driven by impatient and aggressive adults.

The increasing stress of driving influences health, crash statistics, rising costs of injuries and traffic deaths, and other forms of human suffering. Getting angry and driving aggressively is a learned habit that can be unlearned with the effective methods described in the book. Each chapter contains checklists and tests that readers can use to assess their own road rage tendency. Emotional intelligence as a driver is a critical concept that involves first, becoming aware of automatic negative reactions and thoughts, and second, substituting positive alternatives. Examples of negative thinking in routine driving situations are provided, and how to transform these reactions to retain control in emotionally charged situations.

The varieties of aggressive driving behaviors are outlined--the rushing maniac, the Jekyll-Hyde persona, the automotive vigilante, the left lane bandit and others. James and Nahl have discovered that at times every driver has these types of reactions. You'll find descriptions of the authors' three-step program, their RoadRageous video course, the results of their aggressive driving polls, and scenario analysis exercises to practice critical thinking to help you develop emotionally intelligent driving skills.

This book is for everyone because whether you drive, ride, walk or bike we are all touched by the driving crisis. This book shows that driving is not an individual activity, it is a community activity where every person can contribute to a safer driving environment. After reading the book you will want to buy one for your spouse, teen driver, an elderly driver, friend, or employee. Commercial drivers and law enforcement will find this book equally informative and relevant.

Prometheus Books

 


Tuesday, August 8, 2000

The age of rage:
Experts wonder if society isn’t boiling over with anger

By Julie Sevrens
Knight Ridder Newspapers

They’re all the rage: Air rage, road rage, desk rage, surf rage — even pedestrian rage.

The incidents make the news most weeks now: Leo the dog thrown into traffic by angry driver. Enraged airline passenger causes mayhem on flight. Single father of four pummeled to death at youth hockey game.

Although anger is a natural emotion, many experts have begun to wonder whether society isn’t now boiling over with anger.

“I call it the Age of Rage,” says Leon James, professor of psychology at the University of Hawaii and author of Road Rage and Aggressive Driving.

“We feel rage, and we express it with hostility whenever we are in public places. I call it culture tantrum.”

And what a poorly behaved culture we are.

(...)

Many judges are directing first-time criminals to anger-management classes rather than jail. Some mental health workers are stressing anger management as much as communication in troubled marriages. And books galore are touting the importance of dealing with anger in a positive manner.

It’s about time, says Shari Kirkland, a clinical psychologist at Kaiser Permanente in Hayward, Calif., and author of Red-hot Relationships: How to Defuse the Anger and Keep the Romance.

“I think it’s a significant problem and I think it’s often overlooked,” Kirkland says. “As psychologists, we have the so-called Bible of diagnoses, and anger’s not even mentioned in it. A lot of psychologists don’t know what to do with anger or how to treat it.”

(...)

“Anger is legitimate; otherwise we would not have the capacity to have it,” Ingram says. “Anger is nature’s way of alerting us when it is time to take action in our own best interest — a legitimate function when there’s a real threat to our own well-being.”

Yet the things that often send us over the edge usually have little to do with our well-being. The driver who cuts in front of us or the boss who absent-mindedly forgets to thank us for a job well done tend to trigger what Ingram calls “pseudo anger.” We distort reality to the point that we become enraged not by personal affronts or intentional malice but often by simple mistakes that may have nothing to do with us. And in our indignation, we lash out at the offending party — often violently — and rationalize our behavior as justified. After all, we were provoked.

“If the proper parenting were there, you wouldn’t see this kind of outlandish behavior. You just wouldn’t see it,” says Arnold Nerenberg, a Whittier, Calif., psychologist who specializes in anger management.

Nerenberg and others blame our inability to handle our anger on a host of factors — including stress, an irrational sense of entitlement, and the desire to dominate other people. But many place a bulk of the fault on parenting and poor social role models.

They say that many people deal with anger by cursing or making obscene gestures because it’s the only thing they’ve known. They’ve been taught no other alternatives.

“People have always gotten angry and people have always done horrible things to each other in that moment of rage. But what has happened is the rise of violence,” Ingram says. “People have lost sensitivity and inhibition, and now the monster is loose because they saw Schwarzenegger blowing up people in a movie. Now people feel `that’s what I’m supposed to do when someone makes me angry.’’”

The single greatest predictor of whether a driver will one day engage in road rage is whether he or she had a parent who was an overly aggressive driver, Nerenberg says. Children mimic what their parents do. And as adults, they continue to behave the way their culture has taught them to.

So it shouldn’t be surprising, psychologists say, that some of the nicest people have anger problems. Men and women of all ages, religions and ethnic backgrounds just don’t know how to deal with their emotions.

(...)

“There have been lots of incidents with baseball bats, flying burritos, bottles — you name it,” says David Willis, president of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, which has kept track of road rage incidents.

People have been shot for driving too slowly or playing the radio too loud.

Some psychologists believe the worst is still to come.

When asked about their ability to deal with anger, only a minority of Americans admit to having a problem, Ingram says. But most believe a majority of people don’t handle anger well. It’s always someone else that causes the problems.

“It’s `I get irritated, annoyed, every once in a while I may get (ticked) off, but never angry,’’” Ingram says.

We are a nation in denial.

As with alcoholism and other unhealthy behaviors, the first step to beating a problem is admitting you have one, James says. And then you have to want to change. He should know, he says: It’s taken him 20 years to alter his own aggressive driving habits and learn not to take acts of other drivers so personally.

Because many adults have shown no interest in — or intention of — learning to manage their anger, James fears the problem will only continue to escalate.

“Is it getting worse? Yes. And every generation is adding to it,” he says. “The next generation is going to be even worse.”

(...)

Just as it takes time for a person to learn to become a hothead, it can take years to become skillful at dealing with anger.

Although no one method seems to work for everyone, experts offer these tips for keeping frustration from turning into rage:

Start young. Teach your children patience, respect and civility. People most likely to succumb to road rage are those whose parents didn’t handle anger well. Recognize that how you respond to your frustration has a direct effect on how your children will one day be able to cope with theirs.

Acknowledge you have a problem. Sure, someone else may have set you off, but that doesn’t excuse your acting badly. Next, make an effort to witness your behavior. When you’re driving, for example, observe how closely you follow other cars. What do you do that might be angering other people? Finally, work on modifying your behavior. If driving is what brings out your worst side, work on avoiding tailgating and other aggressive maneuvers.

Learn new responses to behaviors that previously would have provoked you. Rather than yelling or making obscene gestures at a driver who has cut you off, say “be my guest,” sing, or make goofy animal noises — quietly, however, so the other driver doesn’t hear. This alters your breathing pattern and slows the rush of adrenaline coursing through your body, says Leon James, author of “Road Rage and Aggressive Driving.” Then start talking to yourself. Say “It’s not worth getting worked up over,” or “Don’t do anything drastic.” “Have these verbal reminders ready before you travel and then use them when you get into trouble,” James says.

Examine your relationship with the offending party and question the amount of power you want them to have over your emotions. Do you know this driver? Do you really want him or her to influence your immediate happiness? Otherwise, “it’s like putting a sign on your car saying `I’ll let any one of you turn me into a raving idiot,’” says Arnold Nerenberg, a Whittier clinical psychologist.

Distract yourself from the frustration. By changing your mental focus, you can temporarily reduce your anger level and hopefully keep from doing or saying things you’ll regret.

Count to 10. Take deep breaths. Meditate. Practice yoga. Play computer games.

Watch your caffeine and alcohol intake. Caffeine promotes anxiety and irritability. Alcohol and drugs can spur you to act out.

Give yourself extra time for traveling so you don’t get upset by people or forces slowing you down.

Remind yourself of the impact anger has on your health. Tirades not only increase the odds another person will attack you, but also they can boost blood pressure, trigger premature heart attacks and lead to ulcers, strokes and digestive problems. Besides, blowing a gasket “doesn’t get you what you want,” James says.

original here

 


WebMD Radio Broadcast

Thursday, September 28, 2000 4:00 PM EDT

The Neuro Center When Drivers Attack: Putting the Brakes on Road Rage

with Leon James and Diane Nahl

Do you ever feel like giving a tailgater a 'brake job'? Do you try to get where you're going in the shortest possible time? Do you curse at or retaliate against 'pushy' drivers? Join our experts to learn about putting the breaks on overly aggressive driving.

We are a nation of aggressive drivers. How long can we continue as a society when we kill each other on highways at an annual rate five times greater than wars have killed our soldiers since the beginning of the century? This year at least 40,000 people will lose their lives on our highways and more than 3 million will go the hospital with injuries and economic losses of over 200 billion dollars, according to the American Institute of Public Safety. Psychologically, motorists are at war with each other. In 1999 more than a dozen states passed aggressive driving laws and law enforcement around the country has stepped up various initiatives to curb aggressive drivers, and psychologists are now starting to view road rage as a very real disorder.

Leon James, PhD, and Diane Nahl, PhD, are the founders of "driving psychology" and the nation's foremost authorities on road rage and aggressive driving. They are the authors of the RoadRageous aggressive driving video course and a related book, Road Rage and Aggressive Driving: Steering Clear of Highway Warfare. Check out their web site, at DrDriving.org.

Chris Huffman is chief operating officer of the American Institute for Public Safety. The institute recently collaborated with such experts as James and Nahl to produce the nation's first comprehensive course devoted to changing the attitudes and behavior of aggressive drivers.

 


When Road Rage Attacks

Which brings me to a powerful point from Dr. Leon James, Ph.D. (aka "Dr. Driving"). James believes that "your driving decisions and actions express your personality style and character. How you act and react, how you think and feel, are the automatic result of what you see, what you believe and what you have learned to do by habit." So if we are all swearing at one another, gesturing and cutting one another off because somebody else started it, what does that say about us?

James is a Traffic Psychology professor at the University of Hawaii and has been researching the psychology of driving due to his own Dr. Jekyl-and-Mr. Hyde transformations when driving, often making his own passengers nervous. James is a firm believer that we may not be able to change our emotions by an act of will, but that we can use self-modification techniques to suppress the habits of certain thoughts and feelings. Therefore, we must take on the responsibility ourselves, before pushing it upon others and exposing passengers to our dark sides.

When driving with young children in the car, it is especially important to curb the road- rage outbreaks. As children are sponges and will imitate the examples that surround them, maybe flipping off the car behind you is not the best role-model decision. Or maybe getting to the grocery store in record time becomes less pertinent. Children who witness this kind of behavior ultimately will carry on the same hostile attitudes, thus making even more passengers in the future close their eyes and grip the door handle.

James encourages the process of "self-witnessing." We must begin to utilize the advice about road rage. Learn from the horrible incidents that have been in headlines and that we, ourselves, have experienced. James supplies a workbook and activities for children, which will aid in showing drivers what they look like through the eyes of a young passenger. These workbooks may be accessed through James' site at: http://DrDriving.org/carr

Think about your passengers before instinctively throwing your arm in the air to raise that infamous finger. Once we realize that we have choices on the road -- just as in our daily lives -- we may be able to enjoy driving again. Choose to act, not react, to situations on the road and, as Dr. Driving says, "Drive with Aloha Spirit."

 


QUESTIONS ANSWERED IN THE BOOK

Q. What is road rage and how widespread is it? Where does road rage originate? When did this topic surface? What's the difference between road rage and aggressive driving? Who has road rage? What is the cost of aggressive driving to society?

Q. What is government doing about road rage and aggressive driving? How many states have passed aggressive driving bills? What's the legal definition of aggressive driving? What are the penalties? To what degree are the new laws enforced?

Q. What causes road rage and aggressive driving? Who are the aggressive drivers? Why are drivers so competitive and hostile? Is it because of congestion or construction? How do car phones and in-car computers contribute to aggressive driving?

Q. Many complain about elderly drivers. Should they continue to have their licenses renewed? Is there a point when an older person should no longer drive? What special problems do older drivers have? Are they as aggressive as younger drivers?

Q. Are women drivers as aggressive as men? What type of personality is roadrageous? What makes people aggressive behind the wheel? Are there different types of aggressive drivers? Are younger drivers more aggressive?

Q. You wrote that, aggressive driving is a "culture tantrum." What did you mean by that? Are you saying that aggressive driving is a learned cultural trait? Isn't it just the result of anger? Isn't it a natural human trait to want to defend oneself in the face of attack or danger? Should you let people just get away with some of the things they do?

Q. What are the health aspects of aggressive driving? Isn't it better to vent anger instead of keeping it in? You wrote that aggressive driving is injurious to your body and mind--how? What's the best way of protecting oneself from highway stress? Is it possible to feel relaxed and content while driving in heavy traffic? Is it better to drive alone or to have a passenger?

Q. You wrote that aggressive driving characterizes the entire population of drivers. If everyone is aggressive how can society fight this problem? In your 1997 congressional testimony you outlined a new program of lifelong driver education. What is this plan and why do you think kids need driver education that begins a decade before they can drive? Should license renewal involve re-testing in the case of the elderly? Is graduated licensing necessary? Why is driver education less available today than two decades ago?

Q. You discussed citizen activism against government paternalism, where one of the main pet peeves surrounds setting and enforcing speed limits. Are they saying we shouldn't have any speed limits? What about the speed kills principle? Why do drivers want to go fast? What is the psychology of speed? Is traffic calming a good technique for lowering traffic speed? How widespread is the use of photo-radar? Are they an effective deterrent?

Q. You wrote that driving is becoming more complex and that people are doing more activities in cars. You mentioned dashboard dining, cell phones, and mobile computing. What should we do about this trend to multi-task in cars? Crash statistics show that these distractions cause more collisions. Should we impose limits on the use of car phones and computers while driving? Have any states and countries passed laws that ban the use of cell phones while driving?

Q. You proposed the creation of an organization called CARR or Children Against Road Rage. What's this all about? What do children have to do with road rage? You also mention an organization called YARR or Youth Against Road Rage. Is this similar to SADD (Students Against Drunk Driving)?

Q. You and your students devised a rating scheme for movies, cartoons, and commercials called DBB Ratings or Drivers Behaving Badly. What's this about? Are you saying that children and adults learn aggressive driving behaviors through the media?

Q. You created an aggressive driving prevention course called RoadRageous. I understand that this is offered in some traffic courts as an alternative to prison or fines. How does this work? Is this a national trend?

Q. You wrote that the opposite of aggressive driving is supportive driving. Is this like defensive driving? What is a supportive driver? You said that people need to develop emotional intelligence behind the wheel. What's that and how do you accomplish it?

Q. What is the driver's prime directive? (Remain in control of the vehicle and of the situation.) Can you predict how others will respond if you make a gesture of protest when they do something stupid? Isn't it natural to retaliate a little to teach someone a lesson? How could it be dangerous to show others they shouldn't do dumb things on the road?

Q. Can tests identify aggressive drivers? How can I find out if I am an aggressive driver? What do I need to do to change the way I drive? What if my teenaged children are aggressive drivers? What do I need to do about it?

Q. You developed a proposal called Lifelong Driver Education K-12. Why is it needed? How would it work? You mentioned QDCs or Quality Driving Circles which act like driver support groups. How would that work? Do you really think people want to have meetings to discuss their commute?

Q. You maintain a Web site called DrDriving.org. How did you get to be DrDriving? Were you an aggressive driver? Are you an aggressive driver today?

Q. You described a "self-witnessing" technique consisting of recording yourself thinking out loud while driving. What did you discover when you did this? Should other people be doing it? Isn't it just another dangerous distraction?

Q. You describe several techniques drivers can use to manage their road rage emotions in traffic, like the Castanza technique (acting the opposite of what you feel) and making funny sounds. What are these and other techniques that you recommend?

Q. You wrote that road rage is just one of many types of rages we hear of today: parking rage, air rage, desk rage, surf rage, pedestrian rage and so on. You said this is the Age of Rage in the culture of disrespect. What does this mean? What are the implications? What do we need to do about it?

Q. One of the chapters discusses passenger's rights. What are passenger's rights? You proposed a Partnership Driving Contract between the driver and the passenger. Why is this needed and how does it work? You said that you and your wife have used it for years: What effect has it had on your relationship?

Q. I understand that the San Antonio Police Department is distributing your TEE Cards during traffic stops. These are information leaflets you created for a program on Traffic Enforcement and Education. What are TEE Cards and how are they supposed to work? Are there other police forces that use this approach? What effect do they have?

Prometheus Books


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