a grip on anger ||
My Congressional Testimony ||
Road Rage ||
In 1985 I coined the phrase "Driving Psychology" to represent a new field of
knowledge that I began to teach at the University
of Hawaii. It brings together five scientific areas that
I consider critical for a full
understanding of driving behavior:
Driving Psychology is now in the beginning stages and is still evolving in content and
method, in response to the new need for managing driving behavior in an industrialized
society. The goal of Driving Psychology is to reverse the natural trend of escalating
accidents that occur with a sharp increase in the number of drivers and miles driven. The
escalation of accidents, injuries, and their financial cost is a preventable phenomenon,
but it requires
socio-cultural interventions by government, social agencies, and citizen
organizations. It is not preventable or containable by law enforcement methods alone
because these are external coercion mechanisms that have only a limited effect. Drivers
will revert to aggressive driving styles when detection by police can be avoided.
Compliance is dependent on surveillance. See my
congressional testimony here.
On the other hand, it is possible to use internal methods of managing drivers
attitudes and habits of thinking in order to influence the norms of driving in a society
or region. Driving Psychology provides the theory and methods for creating this type of
internal influence by securing the voluntary cooperation and support of drivers for
lifelong self-improvement activities. These internal methods are fully effective in the
long run since they are incorporated into the personality and moral philosophy of each
driver. Internal influence cannot be coerced since drivers can fake attitudes to comply
with tests or inspections. As soon as surveillance is withdrawn or eluded, the negative
attitude asserts itself in freedom. Therefore, internal influence is possible only through
the voluntary cooperation of each individual. This voluntary cooperation can be engineered
by means of the social influencing process that naturally occurs in Quality Driving
Circles (QDCs) functioning through a Standard QDC Curriculum. Long term QDC membership
erodes resistance to change and builds enthusiasm for practicing collectivist and
supportive driving scripts, schemas, roles, and norms.
In addition, the new driving norms that these socio-cultural methods create are then
spontaneously adopted from their parents by the current generation of children who will
form the next wave of drivers in the region. The new, more supportive driving norms, along
with more collectivist expectations about traffic, can be expected to have long term
benefits to both the individual and society. It has been observed that individualistic and
competitive expectations lead drivers to be aggressive and hostile towards other road
users. This aggressive frame of mind can generalize to other interactive settings such as
the workplace and the family, creating higher stress and greater conflict. Similarly, the
more supportive and collectivist expectations can be expected to generalize to other
social settings, creating less stress and conflict, and more satisfaction and calmness.
Thus, Driving Psychology is also a health-enhancing practice.
Historically, Driving Psychology closely relates to the behavior management techniques
used in these fields:
- behavioral and transactional engineering
- teaching principles of self-modification of behavior (short term and long term)
- developing databases of taxonomic inventories of affective, cognitive, and sensorimotor
driving habits across regions and time
- group dynamic techniques for engineering new generational norms
- Kurt Lewingroup dynamic forces on personality change
- Albert Ellisrational-emotive integration (including emotional intelligence)
- L. Kohlberglevels of moral development
- Albert Bandurasocial influencing mechanisms in the self
- behavioral assessment of skills
- formative evaluation of learning or training
- summative evaluation of instruction
- testing of competencies and licensing
- long term self-assessment procedures
- mass media communications and interventions
- Content analysis of media portrayals of driving and their dissemination to the public to
increase peoples awareness of their potential harmful influence.
- DrDriving musicals and staged neighborhood or school productions to encourage positive
role models for young drivers and to allow them to explore the socio-moral dialectic of
- Radio call-in talk shows during heavy traffic hours to allow drivers a socially approved
mechanism for expressing complaints and for sharing solutions and advice in accordance
with the Standard QDC Curriculum and Driving Psychology.
- Making available Driving Informatics facilities in public libraries and the workplace to
satisfy peoples driving information needs
- accident analysis and reconstruction
- mandating standardized police record keeping on a regional or national basic
- building national accident databases for scientists
- building national, regional, and local data repositories obtained anonymously from QDCs
and arranged by relevant scientific categories
- Encouraging drivers to practice self-witnessing behind the wheel (self-observation and
self-monitoring record keeping using a variety of tools such as Data Forms, Trip Logs,
tape recordings, etc.)
- Teaching drivers how to apply self-modification principles (Baseline/Intervention
techniques by drivers)
- Teaching the Threestep Program for driving personality makeovers
- Encouraging drivers to maintain a Driving Log as way of promoting their long term
involvement with self-improvement
- Promoting Partnership Driving arrangements to encourage friends or co-workers to assist
drivers in self-improvement efforts
- Promoting Quality Driving Circles (QDCs) as a socio-cultural method for building up the
motivation of drivers to practice lifelong self-modification activities.
- This includes a national or regional program of incentives, awards, and benefits for
drivers who maintain their QDC activities.
- It also includes providing guidance through instructional materials such as Keeping
Track Forms, Logs or Schedules that assist individuals in their driving exercises.
- These Forms may also be made available anonymously to scientists who can use them as a
continuous source of data for studying driver behavior on a long term basis. This type of
research will assist government officials and agencies to continue the effective
management of driving on a permanent basis.
- Increasing peoples awareness and focusing public attention on the social
implications of car society, car talk, car attitudes and behaviors, through content
- Accounts (or stories) drivers give when telling what happened
- Messages drivers write in electronic discussion groups
- Newspaper accounts of driving incidents
- Public or media portrayals of drivers and driving (including books and advertisings)
- Other sources that access the thoughts and feelings of people about driving
Analysis of Internet Newsgroups about driving and cars with participants from North
America, Britain, Australia, and Singapore, has shown that aggressive and hostile
attitudes among drivers is universal and transcends ethnic background. The psychological
mechanisms that justify this hostility may vary from culture to culture. It is necessary
therefore to develop culture-specific methods of social influence to bring about a change
in norms of competition and hostility.
- Building inventories and taxonomies of affective, cognitive, and sensorimotor driving
behaviors to guide scientists and safety officials, and to help define the content of
public instruction and other educational materials for self-improvement efforts. Current
inventories of driving behaviors in North America have been obtained through various
- surveys or polls using driver behavior check lists
- content analysis of driving accounts (personal stories and media reports)
- protocol analysis of transcripts of tape recordings made by drivers behind the wheel
- observations made by passengers and pedestrians
- data gathered with specially equipped research vehicles
- data gathered from driving simulators
- Supporting and promoting civic activism and social organizations that focus on driving
and the car culture, e.g.,
- groups focusing on aggressive driving prevention for children
- groups identifying themselves as citizens against drunk driving or speeding
- designated driver programs to fight alcohol related driving fatalities
- youth against road rage organizations
- public procedures for recognizing driver excellence (awards, certificates, nominations)
- creating and supporting positive driving roles and heroes (e.g., DrDrivingthe
Musical, and other culturally integrated symbols of collectivist driving through music,
drama, and dance)
- providing racing parkways and off road driving in reserved areas to provide more
acceptable alternatives to speeding and rough driving enthusiasts
- Providing access to Driving Informatics facilities to satisfy peoples driving
- Driving self-improvement workbooks and curricula
- Standard QDC Curriculum (Quality Driving Circles)
- Accident recovery support organizations
- Automotive needs (maintenance, repair, sales)
- Travel information (including maps, weather, and traffic)
- Insurance and legal
- Training and Licensing
- Violence prevention for children
- Civic organizations (traffic control, safety education, impaired driving, legislation)
- Car culture and history
- World Wide Web activities (driving sites, newsgroups, organizations, conferences,
One of the major issues in driving informatics and driver management is to create
universal and inexpensive delivery mechanisms for driver training and education.
DrDriving's major new initiative in this direction is his development of TEE CARDS--please
click to see details.
There are two perspectives on what people do as drivers, one external, the other,
internal. The external view on driving includes road conditions and vehicle manipulation.
Data on these is obtainable from instruments, measurements, and observer evaluation. The
internal view on driving is the perspective of the drivers themselves: their sensations,
perceptions, verbalizations, thoughts, decisions, emotions, and feelings. Data on these
aspects of the behavior of drivers cannot be obtained by instruments, nor by an observer.
Instead, some method must be devised by which the drivers can make records of their
on-going perceptions, thoughts, and feelings. A common method is to obtain self-witnessing
reports made by drivers who talk out loud into a tape recorder while they are driving.
These concurrent reports are superior to retrospective reports obtained by interviewing
drivers or giving them tests. After-the fact data depend on recollection and other
distortions, while concurrent reports during driving allow drivers to label thoughts and
emotions as they occur, thus increasing the reliability, validity, and comprehensiveness
of the report.
Affective, Cognitive, Sensori-motor
Since ancient times there has been agreement among
philosophers that human capacities are organized into three distinct groups corresponding
to the threefold human nature: the will, the understanding, and the actions of an
individual. Modern psychologists also function within this threefold system of behavior.
What pertains to the behavior of the will is called affective behavior and includes
affections, feelings, motives, needs and everything that pertains to the goal-directedness
of people's actions.
For example, signaling before changing lanes is a sensorimotor behavior embedded in an
affective context: the driver maintains the motive of avoiding driving errors. In the
absence of this motive, errors are committed and the driver fails to signal. Learning to
maintain the motive of avoiding driving errors is an important affective driving skill.
Frequently, affective driving errors occur when conflict between motives is experienced,
as when a driver is in a hurry and speeds: the feeling of wanting to be cautious and law
abiding is weakened by the feeling of urge to hurry and not be too late. The theory of
driving behavior includes the capacity to explain the content and organization of
affective driving skills and errors.
What pertains to the behavior of the understanding is called cognitive behavior and
includes cognitions, thoughts, reasonings and everything that pertains to the
decision-making and analyzing aspects of people's actions. For example, signaling before
changing lanes is not only embedded in an affective (motivational) context, but in a
cognitive context as well: the driver processes information by common sense logic.
Learning to make correct judgments in routine driving incidents, is an important cognitive
driving skill. Frequently, cognitive driving errors occur when an illogical sequence of
interpretation leads to an incorrect decision, as for instance: "I know there is
nobody behind me, therefore I won't bother signaling this time." This erroneous
decision overlooks several reasons that should be taken into account such as: There may be
somebody in my blind spot, or There may be somebody from the front that might turn in, or
There may be a policeman watching; etc. A comprehensive theory of driving behavior has the
capacity to identify correct and incorrect decision-making, and specify how cognitions
interact with affections to produce overt acts.
What pertains to the individual's overt actions is called sensorimotor (or psychomotor)
behavior and includes all experience that is mediated through sensory and motor channels.
For example, signaling before changing lanes is a complex psychomotor action involving
eye-hand coordination, motor readiness to apply the brakes if needed, twisting of neck to
look behind, changes in breathing pattern, and less visible endocrine and neurologic
changes. As well, silent or overt verbalizations may occur involving the articulatory
system (e.g., "Oops, I didn't see that car!" or "Ok, now, watch out for
that car"). A realistic driving theory includes the specification of the sequence of
sensorimotor actions of drivers and how these are influenced by the on-going affective and
Driving Psychology always defines driving behavior in terms of these three
inter-related domains of human behavior. Driver education and training need to explicitly
address each of the three domains of driving behavior. Different instructional activities
are needed for acquiring driving competence in each of the three domains. Similarly, when
testing the competence of drivers, all three domains must be assessed by suitable and
valid quiz items. Appendix 1 provides an instance of such a test. See the personality
chart with the three zones here.
In North America, cars have been mass produced for 102 years and there are now almost
200 million licensed drivers in the United States alone. Driving is the most dangerous
activity for the majority of people in an industrialized society. Driving accidents have
killed millions of people since 1900 and the number of deaths and injuries increase in
proportion to the number of drivers and the total number of miles driven in an area or
region. In North America, deaths and serious injuries from driving accidents were reduced
as a result of these developments:
more and better roads
thus, safer roads with better traction, visibility, and maintenance
better designed cars
thus, cars equipped with better safety devices and crash proof designs that save
livessafety belt, air bag, child restraint car seat, shock absorption and controlled
collapse, crash tests with dummies
better medical emergency services and infrastructure on highways and streets
thus, more survivors after crashes
better law enforcement
including, more personnel, use of electronic surveillance devices on highways and key
intersections, new legislation to facilitate the conviction of guilty drivers, greater
involvement of courts in remedial driver training for offenders
mandated driver and safety education in schools
including graduated licensing and other special provisions for elderly and handicapped
more sophisticated transportation management systems
computer controlled traffic lights, traffic calming devices, re-routing schemes, HOV
lanes, alternative transportation initiatives
economic incentives for drivers who remain accident free
added insurance cost for accident prone drivers, increased incentives or insurance
reductions for accident-free drivers, special benefits accruing to enrolling in refresher
courses and other self-improvement activities
Its important to note that despite these definite and significant improvements in
the seven areas indicated, the rate of traffic deaths and injuries remains relatively
constant when viewed over a long term perspective of years and decades. For instance, in
the 1950s the annual fatality rate due to driving accidents was around 50,000 while in the
1990s it is around 40,000. Yes, there is a reduction, but the curve has quickly leveled
off and remains high around 40,000 deaths and over 3 million injuries. There seem to be
two opposing forces operating.
On the one hand, the external environmental forces for greater safety (less risk):
The construction of more and better highways to accommodate the increasing numbers of
drivers every year
The design of better and safer vehicles
A more efficient medical infrastructure to handle victims of crashes
Greater use of highway law enforcement and electronic surveillance as deterrents
And on the other hand, the internal individual forces for maintaining high risk (less
The widespread acceptance of a competitive norm that values getting ahead of other
The daily round schedule of time pressure and its mismanagement through rushing and
disobeying traffic laws
The weakness of driver education programs so that most drivers have inadequate training in
emotional self-control as drivers
The media portrayal of aggressive driving behaviors in a fun context
The psychological tendency to maintain a preferred level of risk, so that increased risks
are taken when environmental improvements are introduced (also called "risk
Scientists and safety officials attribute this resistance to accident reduction to the
attitude and behavior of drivers who tend to respond to safety improvements by driving
more dangerously. It has been noted that a critical aspect of driving is the drivers
competence in balancing risk with safety. The risk in driving is largely under the control
of the driver. The driver decides at every moment what risks to take and what to inhibit
or avoid. Risk taking is a tendency that varies greatly between drivers as well as for the
same driver at different times. Thus, if a road is made safer by straightening it, or by
moving objects that interfere with visibility, drivers will compensate for the greater
safety by driving faster on itthe so-called "risk homeostasis" phenomenon.
The result is the maintenance of a constant subjective feeling of risk that is the normal
habitual threshold for a particular driver. In such a driving environment, the rate of
deaths or injuries tends to remain high, despite the safety improvements that are
The institutional or societal response to this stalemate between safety and risk
tolerance, has been to increase enforcement activities by monitoring, ticketing, and
jailing hundreds of thousands of drivers. Nevertheless, the number of deaths and injuries
has remained nearly steady, year after year. Besides law enforcement, there has been an
increase in litigation due to aggressive driving disputes between drivers, as well as more
psychotherapy and counseling services, including anger management clinics and workshops,
and community initiatives. Nevertheless, these remain scattered attempts, and have been
unable to alter basic driving patterns.
Driving Psychology is allied to all these scattered attempts and approaches even though
its basic programs and principles have not yet been integrated or accepted by society.
These basic principles can be stated as follows:
Driving is a complex of behaviors acting together as cultural norms.
Driving norms exist in three domains: affective, cognitive, and sensorimotor.
Driving norms are transmitted by parents, other adults, books, movies, TV.
The primary affective driving norms are:
valuing territoriality, dominance, and competition as a desirable driving style
condoning intolerance of diversity (in needs and competencies of other drivers)
supporting retribution ethics (or vigilante motives with desire to punish or amend)
social acceptance of impulsivity and risk taking in driving
condoning aggressiveness, disrespect, and the expression of hostility
These affective norms are negative and anti-social. Socio-cultural methods must be used to
reduce the attractiveness of these aggressive norms and to increase the attractiveness of
positive and cooperative driver roles.
The primary cognitive driving norms are:
inaccurate risk assessment
biased and self-serving explanations of driving incidents
lack of emotional intelligence as a driver
low or underdeveloped level of moral involvement (dissociation and egotism)
These cognitive norms are inaccurate and inadequate. Self-training and self-improvement
techniques must be taught so that drivers can better manage risk and regulate their own
The primary sensorimotor driving norms are:
automatized habits (un-self-conscious or unaware of ones style and risk)
errors of perception (e.g., distance, speed, initiating wrong action)
lapses (in ones attention or performance due to fatigue, sleepiness, drugs, boredom,
inadequate training or preparation)
These sensorimotor norms are inadequate and immature. Lifelong driver self-improvement
exercises are necessary to reach more competent habits of driving.
Driving norms and behavior can be changed by socio-cultural management techniques that
create in the driver a desire for change, by weakening negative norms and strengthening
positive norms of driving.
Since driving is a habit in three domains of behavior, driving self-improvement is
possible and effective in improving this habit. Specific elements in each domains must be
addressed in recognition of the fact that driving consists of hundreds of individual
habits or skills, each of which can be identified, tested, and improved, on a long term
Drivers maintain strong resistance to externally imposed restrictions and regulations
so that these methods alone are not sufficient to create real changes in driver behavior.
Socio-cultural methods of influence need to be used, such as QDCs (Quality Driving
Driving Psychology uses socio-cultural methods that act as change agents. Group dynamic
forces are powerful influencing agents that can overcome drivers resistance to
change. This is achieved by group activities that focus on this resistance in an explicit
way, and afterwards, are put into conscious practice through follow up self-witnessing
activities behind the wheel. These informal groups are called QDCs (Quality Driving
Circles) and their function is to exert a long term or permanent socio-moral influence on
the driving quality of its members. This positive influence is exerted by members on each
other when they adhere to a Standard QDC Curriculum, as approved by designated safety
officials or agencies on a regional or national basis. The QDC Curriculum is created
through the principles of Driving Psychology.
Driving is a semi-conscious activity since much of it depends on automatized habits
acquired through culture and experience over several years. Thus, the drivers
self-assessment is not objective or accurate, until trained in objective self-assessment
Driving inherently involves taking risks, making errors, and losing emotional
self-control. Thus, drivers need to be trained in risk taking, error recovery, and
emotional control under emergency or provocation conditions.
Obtaining a drivers license cannot be considered the end of driver training.
Continued driver training in the form of guided lifelong self-improvement activities is
essential for acquiring new skills. These new skills are needed as driving gets more
complex with technology such as
managing car audio devices
reading maps on screens
talking on phone or radio
keeping to a schedule
The Standard QDC Curriculum (Quality Driving Circles) needs to be kept up-dated
continuously and the latest additions are to be made available to all functioning QDCs in
a region. These up-dates are to focus on new developments that technology brings to
vehicles and roads, all of which require the acquisition of new skills by drivers.
Driving Psychology is an applied field that creates a popular language of behavioral
thinking about driving as a societal issue. This issue is complex and overlaps with
technical and non-technical intellectual environments. The language and ideas in Driving
Psychology are scientifically sound and accurate. However, it is not a basic science like
psychology and does not follow its rigor in application. The theory and concepts of
Driving Psychology are freely borrowed and adapted from
social psychology (e.g., schemas, scripts, attribution error, territoriality, etc.)
developmental psychology (e.g., stages of moral development, moral IQ, etc.)
health psychology (e.g., resistance to compliance, addictive behaviors, lifestyle
applied psychology (e.g., driving behavioral, risk homeostasis, ergonomics of errors,
traffic psychology (driver management, pedestrian behavior, traffic safety education,
clinical psychology (behavior self-modification of maladaptive habits, etc.)
traffic sociology (e.g., social conventions on highways, attitudes towards laws, etc.)
automotive medicine (e.g., seat belt and child restraint use, effect of cars on health,
transportation engineering (traffic calming devices, alternative transportation
The language of Driving Psychology is adapted to specific populations and purposes.
Driving Psychology principles and programs are cast in a popularized but scientific
language that is suitable for people of different educational level, age, and experience.
In order for driver management programs to be effective, the drivers involved must be
motivated to cooperate on their own. The desire for cooperation must stem from their
understanding and acceptance. Understanding must be instructed, and acceptance must be
won. The less perception of coercion, the greater the need for voluntary compliance, which
depends on adequate understanding. Internal motivation for lifelong driver
self-improvement is effective and dependable, but externally imposed rules are less
effective and dependable.
The concepts and methods of Driving Psychology have to be clear to the drivers or
trainees involved. Driving Psychology maintains an internal rhetoric of persuasion
designed to empower drivers to overcome their spontaneous inner resistance to its
principles. It is to be expected that drivers will experience feelings of resistance to
the principles of Driving Psychology. A major reason is that Driving Psychology involves
self-assessment and self-modification, both of which are painful to most people. There is
a natural and predictable resistance to changing automatized habits in the sensorimotor
domain. There is resistance to changing cognitive norms of evaluating and judging other
drivers. There is resistance to giving up affective norms of hostility and
self-assertiveness as a driver. Driving Psychology predicts the forms of the internal
resistance and provides drivers with socio-cultural methods they can use for overcoming
their own internal resistance to change.
Student Reports on
Driving Psychology at the University of Hawaii
Due to their high exposure driving (one hundred thousand miles per year or more), and
to the size of the vehicle driven (eighty-thousand lbs. of load), commercial drivers have
special problems that Driving Psychology tries to address. These problems are an outcome
not only of driver behavior and decision making, but also of the socio-economic
environment in which they work. These include economic accountability factors such as
operating expenses, profitability, fleet size, and type of commodity being delivered.
Economic factors put psychological pressure on commercial drivers and influence their risk
taking behavior and driving orientation or philosophy.
Topics in Driving Psychology that relate to commercial drivers include:
Driving safety (training, knowledge, and judgment)
Driving philosophy (social responsibility and attitude)
Lifelong driver self-improvement activities (Driving Log and Quality Driving Circles)
Vehicle maintenance (record keeping and thoroughness)
Shared ownership ("owner-operator" and other incentives))
Company policies and employee communications (acceptance and support)
Law enforcement (obedience and preparation)
Home life and health of driver (satisfaction and cooperation)
Alcohol and drug consumption while driving (responsibility and conscience)
Government regulations (information and compliance)
Hours of service (sleep habits, biological clock, sleep deprivation)
Accident data and records
Driving Psychology attempts to understand and manage the conflict experienced by
commercial drivers as they respond to schedules set by supervisors and dispatchers by
trying to cut corners in maintenance, by disobeying traffic laws, and by taking illicit
drugs to help them drive longer shifts. Commercial drivers come to rely on their stamina,
operating skills, and quick reflexes in order to compensate for their harsh job demands.
The drivers frustrations, tensions, and rationalizations interact with their skills,
habits, beliefs, and perspectives to fashion an overall driving philosophy, orientation,
or style that ultimately create the drivers accident record and productivity level.
Data on truck drivers in the U.S. have identified the four main types of their accident
Rear end collisions
Improper right hand lane change
Run under collisions
Driving Psychology is informed by crash analysis reports that identify specific driver
errors that need to be corrected through further training, especially the drivers
faulty assumptions about the distance, speed, or position of other cars and their
impending action. Lane discipline and proper following distance are crucial preventive
measures. For large trucks, entering turns at speed limit may be too high under certain
conditions. Panic steering to avoid a car or to get back on the shoulder are major causes
of rollover accidents. Driving for hours at high speeds can create "speed
adaptation" so that drivers cannot rely on their sensation to gauge proper speed.
Drowsiness causes 31% of all commercial driver fatal collisions. One in three trained
drivers report nodding off during some of their trips. They need to be trained to
recognize the symptoms of sleep deprivation and how to fight it.
Driver Competence Skills
would be your words here?
Focusing on self vs. blaming others or the situation
traffic is impossibly slow. Whats wrong with these jerks. Theyre driving like
feeling very impatient today. Everything seems to tick me off."
Understanding how feelings and thoughts act together
"Im angry, scared, outraged. How can they do this to me."
feel angry, scared, outraged when I think about what could have happened."
Realizing that anger is something we choose vs. thinking it is provoked
make me so mad when they do that."
make myself so mad when they do that."
Being concerned about consequences vs. giving in to impulse
just want to give this driver a piece of my mind. I just want him to know how I
I respond to this provocation I lose control over the situation. Its not worth
Showing respect for others and their rights vs. thinking only of oneself
"They better stay out of my way. Im in no mood for putting up with them. Out of
my way folks."
"I wish there was no traffic but its not up to me. These people have to get to
their destination too."
Accepting traffic as collective team work vs. seeing it as individual competition
is about getting ahead. I get a jolt out of beating a red light or finding the fastest
lane. Its me vs. everybody else."
try to keep pace with the traffic realizing that my movements can slow others
downlike switching lanes to try to get ahead."
Recognizing the diversity of drivers and their needs and styles vs. blaming them for what
they choose to do
can they be so stupid? Theyre talking on the phone instead of paying attention to
need to be extra careful around drivers using a hand held cellular phone since they may be
Practicing positive role models vs. negative
on, buddy, speed up or Ill be on your tail. Go, go. Whats wrong with you.
Theres no one ahead."
driver is going slower than my desires. Now I can practice the art of patience and respect
for the next few minutes."
Learning to inhibit the impulse to criticize by developing a sense of driving humor
cant stand all these idiots on the road. They slow down when they should speed up.
They gawk, they crawl, anything but drive."
angry, Im mad
Therefore Ill act calm, Ill smile and not compete. Already I feel
better. Be my guest, enter ahead."
Taking driving seriously by becoming aware of ones mistakes and correcting them
an excellent driver, assertive and competent, with a clean accident recordjust a few
tickets here and there."
monitor myself as a driver and keep a driving log of my mistakes. I think its
important to include thoughts and feelings, not just the overt acts."
(from DrDrivings Web site at
We have created the
character of DrDriving as a socio-cultural tool for teaching Driving Psychology to the
Dr. Leon James has been
the media since 1996 and has
appeared in more than
thousand interviews, news reports, radio broadcasts, and television appearances.
The goal was to bring the socio-cultural message to safety officials and the public, all
of who are alarmed by the aggressive driving problem. This message is that
driving is a complex habit involving
emotions, thoughts, and actions
the way we drive is the result of our
cultural norms and attitudes
driving skills need to change over the lifetime of a driver due to new conditions and
requirements, so there needs to be
lifelong driver-self-improvement training activities
driver education should start in the first grade (affective driving skills), and go on
in intermediate school (cognitive driving skills), and high school (sensorimotor driving
after graduated licensing of new drivers, all drivers join voluntary groups called
Quality Driving Circles or QDCs, in which they help and encourage each other in
personality makeover exercises for self-modification ands self-improvement
self-esteem and self-confidence as a driver is increased through self-improvement
competitive driving is stressful, dangerous, depressing, and injurious
to ones health
supportive and compassionate driving is smart, calming, pleasant, and safe
collectivist models of traffic are preferable to individualistic models
driving style is a
socio-moral issue and reflects the moral development of the
children learn aggressive, competitive, individualistic styles and norms of driving
from their parents, other adults, and dramatized portrayals of driving behavior in the
Social activism is part of driving self-reform for a society, and many social fronts
are needed to be active such as the following organizations and planned activities in
CARR Children Against Road Rage (neighborhood or school-based)
YARR Youth Against Road Rage (based in the workplace environment)
DrDrivingthe Musical (staged for high school presentation nationally)\
TEE Cards and Posters,
CARRtoons, Reminder Cards
QDC Workbooks (for long term and cumulative self-modification programs)
CARaudioBooks (Driving Psychology tapes for drivers to listen to while driving)
CARRworkbook (activities for parents and teachers to do with children who are passengers)
DBB Ratings (Drivers Behaving Badly: keeping track and drawing attention to how driving
behavior is portrayed in the media
Aggressive driving is not extreme any more; it has become a cultural norm on the highway.
We're born into road rage; we inherit it from our parents. We acquire it automatically as
children from adult drivers, cartoons, television, and commercials. Our culture condones
the expression of hostility when we feel justified, indignant, stressed, or frustrated.
Proof of these points may be found in this document.
At the same time drivers aren't trained for emotional intelligence to be able to manage
both lifestyle stress and provocations in traffic.
|by Dr. Leon
more driver interactions (more cars, less space), greater diversity of drivers
cultural norms of disrespect condoning hostility
aggressive driving and road rage battles
The average number of driver interactions during an average commute of 30 mins. has
steadily climbed due to traffic congestion. Thousands of interactions with hundreds of
cars in a half-hour period create new challenges for drivers. Any one of these
mini-exchanges can go wrong when the context is hostile. There are now 125 million drivers
on the road every day in the U.S. They represent a tremendous diversity of competence,
style, and purpose. The hundreds of drivers one encounters in a traffic half-hour puts us
into contact with this diversity. It is unrealistic to expect homogeneity of driving
styles. Drivers differ in gender, age, experience, familiarity with the road, physical
health and condition, mood, and why they are on the road. Not all drivers are in a hurry.
Not all drivers are alert. Not all drivers are competent. Not all drivers know how to
coordinate with the rest of traffic. Not all drivers want to.
And so the 125 million drivers on the road every day need to learn how to drive with
each other, how to get along, how to be more tolerant of each other's mistakes and
varieties of mood and desire for cooperation. Driving Psychology gives drivers the
psychological tools by which they can acquire skills of tolerance for one another. It
takes compassion, fairness, rationality, and altruism. By developing these skills as
drivers, we also become more valuable citizens and more worthy human beings.
The formula above shows that aggressive driving is the result of hostile norms in
combination with more traffic. It is not more traffic by itself that causes aggressive
Here is the rest of the formula:
more driver interactions (more cars, less space), greater diversity of drivers
cultural norms of respect promoting civility and community
supportive, safe, and sane driving
Definition of Road Rage:
the habit of aggressive driving as a permanent style of behaving behind the wheel.
There are three types:
1. Verbal Road Rage: yelling, cussing, gesturing, honking, insulting
2. Quiet Road Rage: complaining, rushing, competing, resisting
3. Epic Road Rage: cutting off, blocking, chasing, fighting, shooting
Lacking in emotional intelligence training, drivers operate on the false "trigger
theory" of anger:
"I can't help it when they provoke me. Besides, they're doing something wrong. I
can't just sit back and take it."
This attitude involves righteous indignation that gives us permission to retaliate
because we feel wronged. It's easy to "lose it" when a "hot spot" is
stepped on, and out comes the unthinking gesture, the uncontrolled temper, the comic book
fantasies of punishment and mayhem.
Step 1: Provocation and Escalation
It takes two to make a fight. Don't respond. Don't
engage. Don't up the ante. Swallow your pride. Choose "the road less traveled."
Count to 10.
- Make animal sounds
(suggestion by LauraLee Carman in her book Rainbows In My Soup)
- Act as-if you're not affected.
- Give yourself pep talks.
Step 2: Recovery and Remedy
If you fall into a hostile exchange, know how to back out, reverse, back pedal. You need
to do damage control.
Refrain from aggravating things.
Come out swinging positive. Apologize. See it from their side as well, not just your own.
Think supportive (vs. combative).
Acts of Declaration of Road Rage War
Honking at someone.
Giving an offensive hand gesture.
Yelling at someone or swearing.
Revving your engine to indicate displeasure.
Shining your high
beams in retaliation.
Deliberately cutting someone off.
Braking suddenly to punish a tailgater.
Blocking a lane.
Emotional Intelligence Exercises
or How Not to Be Hostile When Stressed and Upset
1. Self-witnessing behind the wheel:
Pretend you're giving a play-by-play broadcast of your driving--what you're doing,
thinking, and feeling. Speak all your thoughts out loud. This will let you be more aware
of your driving personality.
2. Shrinking Your Emotional Territory:
Talk to yourself. Argue with yourself. What is it that you really care about? Examine
your assumptions, your anger theory, your driving philosophy.
3. Acting As-If
Pretend you're a supportive driver
even when you feel like being competitive and aggressive. When you
feel like yelling, sing instead--or make funny animal sounds in the car. By pretending to be an Aloha spirit driver, you discover
you like it--cool-headed, hassle-free driving. All right!
Three Levels of Emotional Intelligence as a Driver
- Oppositional Driving (Aggressive Driving; Road Rage Habit)
- Defensive Driving (Be on guard. Assume the worst.)
- Supportive Driving (Act tolerant. Be forgiving. Be helpful.)
Defensive driving is a good strategy, but you can't let defensive driving slide into
aggressive driving. The best defense is not a good offense, in this case. Factors that
allow defensive driving to become oppositional: rushing mania (getting there as fast as
possible) righteous indignation (They deserve to be punished) comic book persona (The
Avenger, Jekyl & Hyde, Mad Max) culture that condones hostility (cartoons,
a grip on anger ||
My Congressional Testimony ||
Road Rage ||
- Oppositional Driving (Aggressive Driving; Road Rage Habit)
- Defensive Driving (Be on guard. Assume the worst.)
- Supportive Driving (Act tolerant. Be forgiving. Be helpful.)
We take these results to be evidence that aggressive driving is a cultural norm that we
acquire from parents and the media. These anti-social practices behind the wheel have
become a tradition. Children imbibe them, boys and girls each in their own ways, suitable
to their gender and age. Our driver education begins as infants while riding in cars
driven by adults who yell, curse, swear, make insulting gestures, break driving
regulations like going through red light or doing some serious speeding. Everyone of these
aggressive and hostile behaviors is documented in this national survey of 1095 drivers.
The culturally transmitted norms of aggressive driving are not unitary and rigid, but
vary demographically through the population. Drivers behave badly in a variety of ways,
and these varieties are influenced by geographic state and type of car. Numerous
statistically significant results are presented in dozens of graphs and tables throughout
this document so that everyone can examine the pattern of relationships between specific
types of aggressive behaviors in relation to age of drivers, their gender, the type of car
they drive, and the state they drive in.
As a society, therefore, we must recognize that cultural transmission and tradition are
responsible factors in aggressive driving, and contribute to it. Therefore cultural
techniques of re-education are needed to reverse the generational trend. We can collect
all sorts of advice and hints for how to stop the increase in aggressive driving (see our
large collection here, culled from the Web). If this trend is not reversed, we can expect
aggressive driving to increase, despite the more extensive law enforcement and electronic
'surveillance' initiatives that are being instituted throughout the country. The full
solution or elimination of this problem lies in consciously and deliberately reversing the
cultural tradition that allows us to express hostility behind the wheel (see here for a
list of the top 100 complaints drivers have about one another). It's obvious that feelings
run very intense and to solve this problem is easier said than done. In my role as
DrDriving, I have been providing various types of self-management tools and socially
dynamic methods of motivating drivers to accept the idea of Lifelong Driver Education as a
matter of social responsibility, as outlined above in this document. The overall goal of
driver education must be explicitly stated in positive terms, rather than merely negative.
The goal must be to evolve a cultural norm for driving that can be called Supportive
Driving, in opposition to Aggressive Driving. Oddly enough, research by psychologists has
remained limited to a few problems--see my large bibliography of driving research here.
We need to understand the difference between these two opposing driving styles and
philosophies. Car society is now beginning its second century. For the first century
society was able to license drivers through minimal training and examination, and this
approach worked for a while, but things started braking down in the 1950s when more and
more drivers began to drive the fast moving vehicles placed in their hands. The death rate
climbed to above 50,000 for many years. It was brought down to its current 40,000
fatalities a year through better car design, better road engineering, more safety laws,
better paramedical services. Still, 40,000 fatalities year after year turns the highways
into war zones (about 50,000 American fatalities were incurred in the entire six-year
Vietnam war). Add to this amazing carnage, 5 million crashes with enormous suffering and
disruption to lives for millions, and an economic cost of 200 billion per year, and you
begin to realize that we are having an enormously serious problem to fix. The goal: to
turn the 177 million drivers in this nation (the number is climbing...) into Supportive
Drivers. Since this philosophy is contrary to tradition, habit, and convenience we are
faced with people's massive opposition to their self-transformation. Drivers have their
own theory as to why drivers makes them mad. These popular but non-adaptive attitudes and
rationalizations must be abandoned in favor of emotionally more intelligent alternatives.
We have been studying this resistance to driver self-improvement for two decades, first
in ourselves, then with other drivers as well. A necessary departing strategy had to be
the identification of aggressive behaviors by drivers. This led to a taxonomy or inventory
of hundreds of driving behaviors in three areas of the driver's habits: affective (the
driver's attitudes, motives, and moral feelings), cognitive (the driver's emotional
intelligence and judgment), and sensorimotor (the driver's vehicle manipulation (including
gestures and verbalizations). We also used this taxonomy of driver behaviors to catalogue
the complaints drivers have about one another. You can get the details by examining the
various links we provided for each topic in the table above outlining the details of
lifelong driver education. We have also used this approach in a video course for driver
re-education based on these same objectives.
this article for more details
by Dr. Leon James
The two sides of this Driving Covenant shows where we are and where we must be headed as
an entire generation of 177 million drivers.
Ourselves from a Pack of Aggressive Drivers to a Community of Supportive Drivers
helplessness as a driver
WHERE WE ARE AS
(counterproductive driving behaviors)
competence as a driver
WHERE WE MUST BE HEADED AS
(productive driving behaviors)
feeling coerced by another driver's
being intolerant of drivers who fall
short of one's own standards
being blind to one's own
aggressiveness or provocative behaviors
believing one's own false suspicions
about other drivers
feeling justified in punishing other
drivers for the sake of righting the wrong they commit
maintaining a hostile attitude on
highways that is hurtful to society and community
exercising choices as to how we
express our feelings
managing disruptive emotions or
staying composed or calm in the face
thinking clearly under emergency
learning de-escalating skills to back
out of fights
accepting the driving issue as a
character issue or a moral one
accepting the idea of lifelong driver
The enormous driving challenge that is facing our society today can become an
opportunity for strengthening our community and evolving more humane and compassionate
relations with each other. Instead of mutual antagonism, we will feel and express mutual
support. Driving can increase our humanity by forcing us to make peace on our highways and
streets and parking lots. We must, or else we will see an increase of hostile behavior in
public places, as people are now beginning to talk about parking lot rage, pedestrian
rage, bicyclists rage, air rage, the millennium rage, neighbor rage, and so on. Let's not
go that route! And yet more and more people will be tempted to slide into these dangers
forms of behaviors due to social imitation and emotional contagion.
Reporters often ask us this question: What solutions do we have for the aggressive
driving problem? As we have outlined above, the Threestep Program specifies the problem
and the solution. Step 1 is "A" for Acknowledge--that is, as a driver I must
acknowledge that I exhibit aggressive behaviors, either overtly or internally, or both.
This is a big step for most drivers. To make this first step means that you are confessing
to your bad driving behaviors and that you're giving up the reputation you have with
yourself as being a good driver ("I'm an excellent driver" comes to the lips of
two out of three drivers you ask--see here). DrDriving was intensely "flamed"
(polemical attacks in electronic newsgroups) when he participated in the public electronic
forum discussions among drivers who vehemently criticized "stupid" drivers for
their seemingly lack of consideration for other drivers--see the detailed analysis in
these students' reports).
DrDrving's point in those messages to those drivers was that we all make mistakes and
that we have different standards and skills--therefore we've got to be more tolerant of
these people instead of becoming more aggressive against them. For example, there are more
elderly people who drive (and this is going to increase markedly as the baby boomers get
into the senior group, we are told by the experts). Today there are more handicapped
people who drive, and they legitimately do so under the protection of the law. More people
who are on medications or have some temporary physical problem (pain, itch, cramp, ache,
gas, stomach reflux, nervous tremors, heart arrhythmia--all medical condition that come on
suddenly. With 125 million on the road you can see that hundreds of thousands of drivers
are out there every day under some kind of unavoidable handicap. There are more tourists
and strangers around who don't know the local customs.
These drivers did not wish to hear the message that it's not rational to blame drivers
who appear to be doing something "stupid" due to their handicap. Nor is it
compassionate, is it. Nor is it legal to retaliate with aggressive acts such as they were
fantasizing doing (for the fun of it), or joking about doing. So DrDriving was hooted out
of the gallery, so to speak. There was tremendous resistance, and personal attacks on him,
when he argued that Princess Diana's tragic crash in the tunnel in Paris was a case of
aggressive driving (or "road rage") by the driver who took enormous and very bad
risks as a result his emotional inability to deal with the Paparasize="3i pursuit in a calmer
and safer manner. This would be obvious to any safety or security personnel. We kept
copies of these exchanges as a way of increasing awareness that our current societal
driving philosophy--the driving norm--is shocking and harmful. To witness yourself the
extreme abuse drivers heap on one another, see these student reports. You can also look at
unanalyzed files of these vehement self-portrayals--here.
Attacks of drivers on one another are expressions of a national driving philosophy that
is hostile and victimizing. It is the source of the tremendous resistance to driving
reform that exists in our society, and the dedicated effort it will take to re-educate the
125 million drivers out on the road of our nation every day, who are crashing into each
other 5 million times every year, killing 40,000, and producing a cost factor of 150
billion dollars every year, besides the unmeasurable spiritual toll in human suffering.
This first of the three steps is the most difficult--and yet, I've seen many drivers take
this step, including myself.
The second step is a "W" for Witnessing one's behaviors behind the wheel. I
pioneered the self-witnessing method in driving psychology about 20 years ago when I
started carrying a tape recorder in my car and speaking my thoughts out loud. I listened
to those tapes, I transcribed many of them (here is one), and I had hundreds of students
in traffic psychology do the same at the University of Hawaii (you can see their reports
on Driving Personality Makeovers here). The conclusion: we all have aggressive thoughts
and feelings behind the wheel, even violent ones, as you can see from the results in this
survey regarding enjoying fantasies of violence. I immediately called attention to this
symptom as a mental health issue for the nation. I quickly realized that driving is a
bundle of habits made up of dozens of identifiable behaviors. Some of these behaviors were
affective (e.g., enjoying fantasies of violence about another driver--the enjoyment is
affective, it is a feeling). Some of the behaviors are cognitive (e.g., thinking of a
driver as stupid for not turning off their signal indicator). And finally, some of the
behaviors are sensorimotor (e.g., tailgating or driving through a red light). There were
so many behaviors making up what we call "driving" that it's no wonder drivers
have no clue of themselves as drivers (only illusions about themselves behind the wheel).
So this second step is essential because driving is made of so many little habits that we
need to become a witness to ourselves as drivers. This is what I call
Driving self-reformation can only occur gradually because it must be done one by one,
to each of the several dozen major driving behaviors. This is step 3: "M" for
Modify your behavior one at a time. Each behavior you witness yourself doing that is bad,
must be re-educated by observation and reinforcement, that is, serious and honest
practice, ride after ride, relapse after relapse, never giving up. You can't correct
faults you don't know you have. This is why it's essential to do self-witnessing on a
regular basis using a variety of methods.
FHWA Takes Its Show On The Road
by Doug Rekenthaler Jr.
The Human Factors Field Research Vehicle is a four-door 1995 Pontiac Bonneville packed
with about 360 kilograms (800 pounds) of computers, sensors, display panels, video cameras
and recoreders, microphones, and other technologies to measure older driver performance in
real-world driving situations.
Fortunately, an automated navigation system in your dashboard, using Global Positioning
System (GPS) data from satellites, is delivering turn-by-turn instructions to guide you to
the hospital. Notice of an accident ahead prompts you to ask the onboard navigation system
for an alternate route, and within seconds, it has established a new route for your
journey. As the onboard computer instructs you to turn right at the next intersection, a
collision-avoidance monitor alerts you that the confused teenager in front of you is
braking hard for no discernible reason. Fortunately, a vision enhancement system is making
it much easier to read the dimly-lit street signs and lane markers.
The good news is that you reach the hospital quickly and discover that your child is
not seriously injured. The bad news is that its not the year 2000 yet, and the
technology that safely delivered you to the hospital isnt quite ready to become
standard equipment on automobiles.
But, if the engineers at the Federal Highway Administrations (FHWA)
Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center (TFHRC) have their way, these technologies soon
will make driving an easier, more efficient, and most importantly a safer
means of transportation.
The Research Vehicle In a laboratory at TFHRC, a handful of human factors
engineers/research psychologists are conducting a variety of experiments that they hope
will one day fundamentally alter the way people drive. By studying individual drivers and
the way they react to a number of external and internal stimuli, FHWA plans to develop and
evaluate new technology that facilitates the driving experience.
Part of this process is the Human Factors Field Research Vehicle (HFFRV), a four-door
1995 Pontiac Bonneville packed with computers, sensors, LCD (liquid crystal display)
panels, video cameras and recorders, microphones, and assorted other technologies. Known
euphemistically both as the Veda car, after the company that outfitted it for
FHWA, and RealSim by the engineers who work with it, HFFRV is just one of four
laboratories in FHWAs Human Factors Program. The others are a sign simulator; a
part-task driving simulator; and a fully interactive, high-fidelity highway driving
A researcher rides in the back seat to observe driver reactions and to monitor
As its name denotes, RealSim is a test vehicle that permits FHWA engineers to take
laboratory experiments to the field for real-world testing. Comparisons can then be made
between data collected in the simulators and actual driver responses in real-world driving
Simulators are always going to be limited to some extent by their inability to
incorporate the incredible variety of real-world conditions, says Spencer James, a
research psychologist working on the project. Even the very best simulators
cant account for all of the things we find in the real world all the
distractions and events that catch the attention of the driver.
Making the Car Smarter, the Driver Safer The modern driving experience is vastly
different from what it was even 10 years ago, said Kathryn Wochinger, a research
psychologist with Science Applications International Corp., which is working with FHWA on
the RealSim project. Youve got enormous congestion, frustrated drivers,
often-times poor signage, and a rapidly growing population of elderly drivers who have
The trick, according to Wochinger, is to provide drivers with the right amount of
information, at the right time, and in the proper presentation mode.
We want to reduce congestion and improve efficiency, but not at the risk of
compromising safety, she said. The key is to do all three things at the same
But that is easier said than done. For example, an elderly driver is likely to have
slower reaction speeds to warning sensors. But he or she is also apt to be more easily
alarmed or confused by a sudden infusion of information. Younger drivers, on the other
hand, are prone to overconfidence and might find themselves obsessed with dashboard
instrumentation to the detriment of their own safety.
You dont want the guy crashing into the car in front of him while hes
marveling at the technology. It kind of defeats the purpose, James said.
Reaction times vary considerably from one age group to another, Wochinger
said. Ultimately, what we are trying to do is create systems that improve all
drivers abilities. If we can do that, we can reduce congestion on the roads and
To examine these and other issues, RealSim has been outfitted with a host of commercial
off-the-shelf technology designed to study driver habits. Onboard equipment includes five
personal 486 computers, which power a variety of components, including the
experimenters station system (ESS), data-acquisition system (DAS), driver response
panel (DRP), video data-acquisition system (VAS), in-vehicle display and control systems
(IDCS), navigation/map system (N/MS), and a lane-tracking system.
To one degree or another, all of this equipment allows researchers to collect a wide
variety of data, including lane deviation, speed, the position of the automobile via GPS,
acceleration/deceleration rates, verbal and manual driver responses, and driver physiology
- for example, tracking the drivers eyes to determine what he or she is observing
and doing while certain road and other real-world conditions are being encountered.
Specific areas of research include: Determining a drivers ability to recognize
and comprehend verbal cues and various visual icons on dashboard displays. Assessing the
best position for in-vehicle display data, including head-up or in-dashboard displays.
Measuring a drivers acceptance and use of in-vehicle safety warning systems.
Determining the degree to which in-vehicle information systems result in information
overload to the driver. Evaluating different instrument layouts based on driver
preferences and requirements.
From the back seat of the vehicle, the experimenter uses the ESS work station (which
includes a flat-panel VGA monitor, keyboard and mouse, video monitor, and video switch) to
run various tests as RealSim travels Northern Virginias roads. This in-vehicle work
station is not to be confused with the off-vehicle station, which is run out of the TFHRC
Human Factors Laboratory. Using an events list that details each action to be
taken during the test, various scenarios are programmed and then, for comparison purposes,
reloaded (using a custom programming language) into the in-vehicle ESS for real-world
tests. Programmable events are based on simple algorithms for example, If
speed exceeds 55 miles per hour [90 kilometers per hour] at location X, initiate
In-Vehicle Display System This system employs the hardware and software to display
information on the five LCD panels in the reconfigurable display. It comprises three
distinct subsystems: displays, instrument panel graphics, and a navigation/map system. The
LCD panels can be used to display a variety of information in graphic or symbolic form,
including standard data - speed, fuel, temperature - and data related to intelligent
transportation systems - collision warning, in-vehicle signing, turn-by-turn routing.
Auditory information is generated via digital voice or prerecorded messages through the
ESS work station in the back seat, and the data is saved to an audio file that can be
accessed and played back for postexperiment studies. Video and audio displays can be
triggered in a variety of ways, including latitude/longitude positions (via GPS), odometer
readings, and speed. Speakers are located behind the drivers seat.
The displays employ a PC-based graphics-generation software and special
graphics-display buffer boards. Real-time data from the vehicle is used to trigger
symbolic displays, which are developed via Avionics Visual Instrument Development Station
(AVIDS) software. For example, the speedometer symbology is driven by the speed data
contained on the vehicles data bus.
The trunk of the Human Factors Field Research Vehicle is also packed with testing and
Data-Acquisition System This system has three subsystems: the driver response panel,
the computer data-acquisition system, and the video data-acquisition system. These systems
record human and vehicle performance data, including eye/head movement, lane tracking, and
audio. All of the recorded data is time-stamped for post-processing correlation. The heart
of DAS is the five shared memory cards that create a unified hardware communications
scheme. The cards provide memory for the application program to read from and write to,
and all five cards are instantly updated when one of the values is changed. Recorded data
is archived to a removable hard disk for in-house analysis.
The driver response panel is located between the right arm rest and the transmission
shift, and it contains one large push-button momentary switch, three small push-button
momentary switches, three analog linear potentiometers, and two five-position rotary
switches. Data is also collected from the driver via eight momentary push buttons mounted
on the left and right of the steering wheel. All of the aforementioned buttons and
switches can measure a drivers state of awareness and workload while operating the
The computer data-acquisition system uses 16 analog input channels to register driver
and vehicle response times. Standard sensors register a number of variables, including
accelerator position, brake-force pressure, steering wheel position, fuel level, water
temperature, oil pressure, three driver-response potentiometers, and a three-channel
The video data-acquisition system employs six cameras: one each mounted on the trunk
for right and left lane tracking, one in the dash and another above the dash for tracking
driver eye and head movement, and two behind the driver for capturing window views. All
video data is captured on six Hi-8 videotape recorders located in the trunk. The video
signals are routed through a vertical interval time code generator, which synchronizes
time and position information onto each video frame for postexperimental analysis.
Its important to remember that were not trying to create in-vehicle
technology that will replace the drivers actions, Wochinger said.
Were developing technology to complement his abilities to make it
easier to read those signs; to find the quickest, most efficient route to a destination;
to avoid collisions; to remain in his own lane. These are all important efforts because
they all contribute to more efficient transportation, less congestion, and safer
The Bonnevilles engine starts; the LCD panels light up; and RealSim emerges from
its home at TFHRC for another road trip. Its a trip the researchers hope will one
day make all our lives easier and safer.
Doug Rekenthaler Jr. is a freelance writer and editor. His experiences as a writer and
editor include cub reporter covering Capitol Hill and Pentagon news beats; managing editor
responsible for 12 newsletters covering a wide array of communications technologies;
founder of the multimedia industrys first daily fax news service; and corporate
communications manager for America Online Inc., the largest commercial online service in