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Dyadic QDC: Partnership Driving

Dr. Leon James and Dr. Diane Nahl

A Dyadic QDC or, Partnership Driving, is a method of driving in which the passenger is designated by the driver as a partner in driving. The two set up an informal contract between them that expresses the terms they mutually agreed on. The contract is for one trip only, and needs to be renewed each time. Here is an example of a typical Partnership Driving Agreement or PDA:

1. I, the driver, designate you the passenger, as my driving partner for this trip.

2. As my driving partner, I authorize you to express yourself freely about my driving, and promise not to retaliate in any form. I agree that you, my designated driving partner, will be the sole judge whether I am retaliating or not.

3. If I loose my control and you find that I'm retaliating against you, I agree to compensate you for each incident in accordance with our Fair Compensation Agreement (Note: this is something you need to negotiate and agree upon PRIOR to the trip, and will no doubt vary with different people.)

4. I agree that the purpose of designating you as my driving partner is to help me to know myself more objectively as a driver. This means letting you observe me and comment on my driving in accordance with your feelings and analyses of each incident. This kind of exchange will help me reach my goal of becoming an emotionally intelligent and supportive driver.

We become drivers in accordance with our societal procedures and cultural norms. Today, these driving norms are territorial and competitive, so new drivers are taught to be impatient and aggressive. The typical driver driver starts as an impatient, competitive, and hostile person behind the wheel. This is learned from parents and adults, and modeled after TV portrayals of drivers behaving badly, and not only getting away with it, but being proud of it.

Reptilian Driving (old brain) vs. Cortical Driving (new brain)

This type of driving can be termed "visceral" or "reptile" because it is controled by one's emotions known to be located in the "old brain" or cerebellum. In this mental state, drivers act obsessed by time-urgency and feel compelled to drive aggressively, taking all sorts of risks that are dangerous. A symptom of reptilian driving is continuous anger and frustration behind the wheel, accompanied by rigid, one-dimensional thinking. Actions by other drivers are perceived and interpreted personally and symbolically. For example, if the car behind you comes very close, the reptilian thinker sees this as an invasion of one's territory and assigns to it negative and hostile significance. This interpretation calls for instant retaliation in various forms such as
  • verbal--swearing, cussing, ridiculing, judging, insulting, threatening)
  • gestural--flipping the bird, giving the stink-eye, rolling down the window, staring menacingly
  • affective--seeking relief or vengeance by fantasizing hostile acts, conversations, or altercations in which the offender is inconvenienced, injured, tortured, or killed
  • cognitive--lapsing into an irrational form of thinking that impairs right jugment and objective conclusions, leading to risky behaviors that one regrets later

Switching from reptilian driving to cerebral driving can be achieved by acquiring "inner power tools " that help drivers manage themselves with greater self-control. These tools include

  • self-witnessing exercises behind the wheel
  • self-interventions within a long term self-modification program
  • partnership driving (see some of the difficulties in this report)
  • participating in a QDC or Quality Driving Circle
  • participating in continuing and lifelong driver's education activities
  • becoming a social activist for driving re-education and supporting civic organizations such as these:
    - National GRADD--National Group Rides and Designated Drivers
    - CASAD--Citizens Against Speeding and Aggressive Driving
    - CARR (Children Against Road Rage)
    - YARR (Youth Against Road Rage)
    - NCADD--National Commission Against Drunk Driving
    - MADD On-Line--Mothers Against Drunk Driving
    - National SAFE KIDS Campaign
    - Neighborhood Boards and Councils that deal with traffic safety.
    - New Driver's Ed K-12

Selection From a Partnership Driving Report

Here is the recorded dialogue from day 1:
We are currently leaving my house and are approaching a stop sign.

Jenn: I usually ignore stop signs, I treat them as yield signs, unless I know a cop is watching. And my wheel is really hot right now and it's pissing me off. I also never drive the speed limit in Hawaii Kai because it #^@%* sucks.

Sheri: What is the speed limit in this area, and what are you driving?

Jenn: The speed limit is 25 mph and I am driving 40 mph, but I think that's the norm for everyone unless you've been in an accident, or know someone whose been in an accident in this area...
Oh ho bus!

Sheri: Did you stop too far past the solid line of the stop sign?

Jenn: I guess, I didn't really notice, did I?

Sheri: You must have if you were concerned that the bus was so close.

Jenn: (laughing) Oh yeah, I guess so, it was kind of close. I hate buses because they are so big and make me nervous... and look at this fricken truck, he's speeding up, sh_t. He knew I had to change lanes, and it's not as if it would have delayed him any more if I had cut in front of him.

I think I should also mention that I although I am wearing my seat belt today, I usually go without one because it is very uncomfortable. If my passenger is wearing a seat belt, or if it's at night then I put it on. I wear it at night because I can't see as well. And if I see a big truck or bus then I put it on because I feel like they might topple into me. Other than that, if I am just driving to and from school, it is very rare that I am going to be wearing my seat belt.

We are now driving down Kalanianeole Highway on a busy Saturday afternoon. Jennifer's impatience is starting to show as she yells at a slow truck in front of her. At least her windows were rolled up.

Jenn: Come on... geez! Make like someone died...Damn ______ gardeners.

I think it definitely calls for some tune time. Awh sh_t, don't do this to me now.

Jennifer is busy fidgeting with her CD player because it is not working properly . She is obviously getting very frustrated with it, and meanwhile is paying more attention to the CD player than the road.

Sheri: How are you feeling Jenn, are you annoyed with the traffic?

Jenn: No it's not the traffic, it's my CD player that I'm annoyed with, and I'm okay now because there is good music on the radio.

Sheri: Do you think the traffic is not bothering you right now because you were preoccupied with your CD player?

Jenn: I realize that I am not moving fast, but I'm dealing with it because I've got things to do right now, like talking with you. I'm also not in a rush to get anywhere.

We are now turning right into the Kahala Mall parking lot.

Sheri: Did you forgot to signal?

Jenn: I never signal. Unless there is someone behind me. Well there was someone behind me back there and I still didn't signal. But like this kind of stuff, when there is someone waiting for me, then I definitely signal.

We are looking for parking at the mall.

Jenn: Watch it!

Sheri: Why did you say that to the woman?

Jenn: Well she was in my way. Okay I admit that I'm a super hostile driver.

Sheri: Jenn, I noticed that when you lit your cigarette, you took you eyes off the road. Wouldn't it be safer to use the car lighter?

Jenn: Yes it would be, but I'm using it as a plug for the car adapter for my CD player. I know it's bad because I do take my eyes off the road for an instance and because I need both hands to light my cigarette, I use my knee to steer the car. I know it's really bad, so most times I light my cigarette at a red light, but right now I need a cigarette really bad.

I have a very bad problem braking. I brake too close to the car in front of me because my judging ability is bad. I often end up having to slam on my brakes. I notice that is problem is exceptionally worse when I have a passenger in the car because I get distracted by the conversation.

I HATE TRAFFIC! (Jenn screams this as we are still looking for parking, it's been around ten minutes).

We finally find parking. Jenn reverses into the stall with no difficulties. She does a very good job. This is the end of the dialogue from day 1. Next I followed through with a debriefing session.

original here

From the New York Times

August 27, 1998
The Art of Driving Is All the Rage By J. D. Biersdorfer

Once you have come to terms with the number of computers inside your car, try looking at the number of cars on your computer -- Web sites devoted to just about all aspects of the automotive experience. And when it comes to popular driving topics on the Web, road rage is all the rage.

Road rage, the phenomenon of agitated drivers' becoming aggressive, dangerous and potentially lethal to other drivers, has triggered a number of sites set up to record license plates and automotive offenders on the Web. Yahoo keeps a comprehensive index of recent news stories and Web pages about the topic.

Two rage pages in particular take vastly differing views on the subject. The Principles of Driving Psychology is a paper published on the Web by Dr. Leon James that explores attitudes and moral implications concerning transportation manners among individuals. A lengthy treatise on human behavior behind the wheel, the page also offers a test called What's Your Moral Driving IQ? (Sample yes-or-no question: "When I encounter road-hugging pedestrians, I feel like pushing them out of my way.")