Home


Quality Driving Circles (QDCs)

and Lifelong Driver Education

see our new proposal here

Dr. Leon James
Dr. Diane Nahl
1997-2009

What are QDCs and how do they work?

From someone who attended a QDC:

"At first I was a little skeptical about participating in a QDC because it was a relatively new idea to me. However, there has been so many great changes that have occurred in my life because of these forum discussions. I wasn't an extremely aggressive driver before, but I did encounter a lot of stressful situations when I was on the road. This psychological stress was a lot to bear. After participating in this QDC, I have learned various skills to control my emotions, thereby influencing my thoughts, and finally, influencing my actual actions. I find myself at ease on the road and enjoying myself, rather than constantly rushing, stressing, and getting upset at other drivers! It really improves the quality of your life because you do spend quite a lot of time on the road so it would be nice to make it as pleasant as possible for yourself!"
 

ENCOURAGING GOOD DRIVER BEHAVIOR

The Toronto Transit Commission won the American Public Transportation Award for eighteen of the last twenty-one years, according to M.L. Friedland (see J. Peter Rothe Challenging the Old Order: Towards New Dimensions in Traffic Safety, Transaction Publishers, 1990, p.101). This feat was apparently accomplished by encouraging the 300 drivers to participate in a "safety bingo" that rewards drivers who stay out of crashes and tickets with small but desired prizes such as a television set. An important feature of the safety bingo is the grouping of drivers into divisions. When a driver gets into a crash the entire division is penalized relative to the other divisions. This creates strong peer pressure to maintain driving alertness and to stay out of trouble. There are two principles to be learned from this experience.

First, a positive incentive system is more desirable than negative punishment methods.

Second, peer pressure is a potent force that can strongly influence people's behavior.

RETHINKING DRIVER EDUCATION

For the past 28 years, our research on the thoughts and feelings of drivers has uncovered several startling facts.

  • drivers regularly experience hostile emotions and violent fantasies
  • drivers are unaware of their errors and style of driving
  • drivers resist change and lack the skills to change or to improve
  • drivers are not taught to deal with their own emotions in traffic and lack the skills for self-control in traffic situations
  • drivers live in a conflictual or cynical mental state, accepting traffic regulations in an ideal sense, but rejecting them in an actual sense (e.g., speed limits, blood alcohol level, signaling regulations, parking violations, moving violations, required maintenance, seat belt use, child restraints, etc.) Our rational mind supports these as necessary for the public good; but our lower mind desires to make excuses for our transgressions. We drive in this fog of conflict, with the result that we regularly break the traffic laws and engage in either risky or aggressive driving, or both.

These are then the behavioral problems that face our nation of 180 million drivers as we cross the millennium and begin our second century of car society:

  • hostility
  • lack of awareness
  • resistance to change
  • lack of emotional intelligence
  • and cynicism towards authority.

Traditional methods of driver education have developed in response to the type of driving that characterized the first century of car society (1896-1996). This gave rise to several important concepts:

  • the driver's license regulated by a government agency
  • driver education in high school (or its commercial equivalent)
  • traffic regulations and enforcement efforts (sobriety check points, cumulative penalty points, fines, license revocation, jail, court mandated remedial driver training, community service)
  • safety engineering in highways (lights, speed limits, signage, federal standards) and in cars (seat belts, airbags, new automatic braking, etc.)
  • award systems (insurance premium adjustments based on driver record)

Important improvements have been made in each area. First, we have license renewal procedures and graduated licensing procedures. Second, driver education in public schools has evolved a curriculum based on safety education and awareness of traffic regulations. The safety program has filtered down to elementary schools with police officers participating along with citizen groups such as MADD, SADD, GRADD, Designated Driver Program, and others. Third, the laws have become more numerous and the enforcement methods more sophisticated, including photoradar and satellite positioning equipment.

Despite these efforts, safety experts were incapable of managing the driving behavior of motorists as more and more of them came on the scene, much faster than we could build roads for them, with the result of congestion, stress, and the carnage of millions of drivers. As we begin our second century of car society an increasing realization is dawning. We don't know how to face this new challenge in an orderly fashion. Driving has become a runaway problem, and it is only now that we are becoming aware of it. Until now we thought we could solve it through the three concepts that worked before: the driver's license, driver education, and traffic enforcement. But they're not working effectively enough to reduce the killing of 40,000 (forty thousand) people every year, and the injuring of 2 million people every year, to the cost of 200 billion dollars, every year. Further, there are indications that aggressive driving and dangerous risk taking are on the increase, not decrease. So it is obvious that a new approach is needed to take care of the runaway driving problem that threatens to spoil our hard won advances through a technological civilization. We need to rethink our driver education approach.


From the Collection of DrDriving's Traffic Emotions Education Cards

See this related article: A SIX-WEEK PSYCHO-EDUCATIONAL GROUP ON ROAD RAGE: HOW'S MY DRIVING?

Tee Card No.18C2

No.18C2 DrDriving's Analysis of the

CAUSES OF AGGRESSIVE DRIVING AND ITS SOLUTIONS


MORE
INTERACTIONS
GOING WRONG

INTOLERANCE OF DIFFERENT
NEEDS

MORE
COMPLEXITY WITHOUT TRAINING

MORE
AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIORS


c  o  n  s  e  q  u  e  n  c  e  s

arrowup.gif (972 bytes)

arrowup.gif (972 bytes)

arrowup.gif (972 bytes)

arrowup.gif (972 bytes)


MORE
CONGESTION

WHILE
CIVILITY
IS LACKING


GREATER
DIVERSITY
OF DRIVERS

WHILE TOLERANCE
IS LACKING


MULTI-TASKING
IN CARS


WHILE
TRAINING
IS LACKING


CULTURAL
CYNICISM BEHIND THE WHEEL


WHILE
ALOHA
IS LACKING

arrowdown.gif (962 bytes)

arrowdown.gif (962 bytes)

arrowdown.gif (962 bytes)

arrowdown.gif (962 bytes)


s   o   l   u   t   i    o   n   s


K-Grade 6
AFFECTIVE
DRIVER
EDUCATION


RESPECT THE RIGHTS OF OTHERS &
BE OBEDIENT TO RULES
CARR


Grades 7-9
COGNITIVE
DRIVER
EDUCATION


BEING ROAD SMART,
KNOWING SIGNS AND
RULES
CARR


Grades 10-12
SENSORI-MOTOR
DRIVER
EDUCATION


DRIVING SIMULATORS AND
GRADUATED LICENSING


YARR


LIFELONG
DRIVER
EDUCATION


QUALITY
DRIVING
CIRCLES

QDCs


See Other TEE Cards here

LIFELONG DRIVER EDUCATION: THE NEW PARADIGM


Let's acknowledge that the nature of driving has changed after a century. There are two mechanisms to understand. One is congestion, and the other is multi-tasking. Both of these have their effects to be managed. Congestion necessarily creates more interactions between drivers, which creates many more opportunities for competitive or hostile exchanges. In congested traffic, drivers are closer to each other, see each other better, and notice more things about each other, including mistakes, some of which are merely annoying, others life threatening. Simultaneously with increased congestion, technology has equipped cars with so many new devices that driving has become a sort of behind the wheel multi-tasking: heaters, air conditioning, radios, tape decks, CDs, cellular phones, GPS computers, voice e-mail, car-office, to name those that are familiar to the majority of drivers today. This multi-tasking, along with the increased social interactions, has created a new type of driving. Drivers need new types of skills to manage these new conditions successfully.

Our research on drivers for nearly two decades has led us to formulate a new body of knowledge about driving behavior, which we call Driving Psychology. The first century paradigm of driving was based on the notion of instructing drivers in safety and regulations. But highways became the national killing fields, taking over 50,000 lives a year through the decades of 50's, 60's, and 70's. Despite vast improvements in the design of cars and highways, and in emergency medical services, the fatalities leveled off at around 40,000 deaths per year, while the number of injured people keeps climbing (over 2 million last year among more than 5 million crashes). Safety experts have operated with two explanations for these tragic results. One can be called risk adjustment and the other road rage.

Experts feel defeated by the disconcerting tendency of drivers to increase dangerous forms of risk taking when engineers and doctors make things safer for them. For example, drivers who buckle up feel they can drive faster because they're safer. Drivers who are crash protected by air bags, are lulled into less alertness or caution. Straight unobstructed stretches of highways encourage speeding. Radar devices and GPS allow people to break speed limits more easily. When crowded highways allow us to elude detection by police, we commit more infractions. When they install four-way stop signs, motorists fail to obey them. And so on. Safer cars and safer roads are incapable of counteracting the greater number of mistakes drivers commit as a result of multi-tasking for which they do not have the skills. Since risk taking increases as new safety devices are introduced, the accident levels will not go down. This is the first account.

The second is called road rage, and is the idea that stress and the frustration of daily commutes sometimes get so intense that drivers become emotionally insane on a temporary basis and snap. They then become primitive savages engaged in killing each other. Or, if not killing each other, at least behaving in an aggressive and hostile manner, enough to loose control of themselves and acting dangerously. The overall result is the increase in collisions, and the maintenance of fatalities at the current level despite improvements in safety and increased surveillance.

While these accounts may be accurate descriptions of what is happening, they are not true explanations of why they are happening. For instance, to meet the increasing challenges of congested commutes, driving instructors have created the "defensive driving" course. Drivers are given principles of caution so that they learn to anticipate what the other driver will do in critical interactions. It was not predicted that defensive driving will, in some cases, turn into "offensive driving." It was discovered that defensive driving involved the idea of suspicion and distrust of other drivers, since you never knew what atrocious mistakes they can make. So you had to stay on your guard. Suspiciousness fed by cynicism easily turns into aggressive driving. Defensive motorists driving around in a suspicious atmosphere has now become the norm.

Here are exerps of a recent news story by Steve Sebelius that illustrates how we've come to think about the driving problem:

Metro Police Lt. Joe Greenwood, who supervises the 85 motorcycle-mounted traffic officers, says Las Vegas drivers aren't any worse than their counterparts in other places. Rather, he says, bad driving is about time pressure. "People are in a hurry. People are wanting to get to their destination, so they're taking risks," Greenwood says. "I think it's a matter of people knowing what they're supposed to do and just don't do it." Greenwood says many accidents are caused by motorists running red lights, making left turns without yielding to oncoming traffic and following other drivers too closely, resulting in rear-end collisions. Efforts by cops to educate drivers, like the radar trailer that contrasts a driver's actual speed with the posted limits, aren't really working, Greenwood says. As a result, police ought to be handing out more tickets, he says.
Breen says she favors restrictions on teen licenses, such as the limits proposed in Assembly Bill 552, which would have banned teens from driving friends for the first four months they have a license, and from driving at night (except for work or school) for the first year. In addition, she says, she favors mandatory testing every two years for drivers older than 65 and annual exams for drivers 75 and older. But such measures can't take the place of more cops on the street, she says. "They [voters] want more traffic police until they get a ticket, then they complain bitterly," she says. "The reality is what you need is more police to give you a ticket when you're 15 mph over the speed limit

Nevada's Legislature approved Assembly Bill 457 this session aimed at aggressive driving, which is defined as speeding coupled with running a red light or stop sign, passing on the right, unsafe driving, following too closely or failing to yield the right of way all in a one-mile stretch. Violations are misdemeanors and people convicted of the crime can be sentenced to traffic school and a 30-day license suspension. Another offense within two years results in a one-year suspension.

Aside from opening more roads, local traffic engineers have little to say about curing bad driving. Sometimes, drivers do bad things on good roads, and there's nothing that could be done to prevent it, White says. "Sometimes, some of the decisions they make, we can't design for," he says. So then what? "We're trying to talk it up around here, how important it is to drive courteously," he says.

"I think people are not trained in this country at all," says Ken Kruger, president of the All-American Driving School and of the Nevada Professional Driving School Association. At least one study has shown, Kruger says, that school-based drivers' education is ineffective in teaching driving skills. "I think the high schools ought to drop driver's ed," he says. "It's a subject they should not be teaching. They're wasting people's time and money." Kruger maintains the only way to teach driving skills is to repeat them until they become a habit. Driving simulators are a good way, but they're too expensive to purchase, so in-car training becomes a necessity. Original here.

Here are exerps from a proposal sent to me recently by a driver who was struck by the following comment I made in an interview:

"ROAD RAGE is the inability to let go of the desire to retaliate and punish the other driver. How it is expressed, depends on personality and situation." Dr. Leon James

His proposal illustrated the directions that the old paradigm solutions might take: AUTOMOTIVE VIGILANTISM

How about channeling and diverting that vigilante urge? How about a variation on the 1-800- "How's My Driving" stickers for truckers? How about a toll-free phone number which motorists can call to report the license plate numbers of aggressive drivers? So that rather than respond in kind, motorists have some non-violent recourse to "punish" the other driver. These license numbers could be made available to insurance agencies, who I'm sure would want to know about dangerous behavior in their covered automobiles.

This proposal has a couple of interesting positives:
1. it doesn't require proving *who* was driving at any point in time. The insurers cover the car itself, no matter who is driving.
2. there is no invasion of privacy required -- the insurance company already knows the license numbers of the cars they cover.
3. The database can be made public, it's only a list of plate numbers. The insurance companies need *never* publicize their use of the database if they don't wish to, but they can still factor the information into rates which they quote.
4. Parents are plausibly more interested in perusing this database for the plate numbers of cars which their children might be driving.

And a couple of possible negatives:
1. it can be abused for other purposes. Someone might call to complain about the driving of an estranged spouse, lover, boss, or co-worker. This could be countered by correlating the phone number of the caller with the reported plate number, and disqualifying multiple reports from a single calling number.
2. there is not necessarily any repercussion against the offending driver. It all depends on whether his insurance company scans the database. But perhaps the symbolic action would be sufficient to defuse the retaliatory urge on the part of the offended driver.

It's clear to us that we need a new paradigm of driver education for the coming generation of drivers, and we need as well a workable solution to keep training the current multi-tasking drivers. This solution is a Lifelong Driver Education program driven by the motto:

Driver Education Never Stops.

Google
 

OPERATING Quality Driving Circles (QDCs)

Small groups of 5 to 10 drivers meet together regularly, and discuss their driving life, influencing and learning from each other. There are two types of QDCs: Face-to-Face and Virtual. Face-to-face QDCs can be based in the family, the neighborhood, or the workplace, where brief meetings can be held at lunchtime or during breaks. It's important to make the meetings regular and to keep an attendance record as a way of motivating members not to skip. Prizes, diplomas, awards, and public commendations are encouraged to keep members involved. There ought to be a rotating chairperson for an agreed upon period, to call meetings and safeguard records. There is no limit to how long a QDC goes on. The longest lasting QDC will receive national recognition. Annual QDC conferences and QDC Newsletters, both national and local, are desirable. The national QDC activities will be coordinated through this Web site.

Virtual QDCs are Web based and coordinated through this site. Members are not physically present but they communicate electronically through this interactive site, as well as directly with each other, by chat room, email, internet phone, regular telephone and mail.

The Quality Driving Circle CURRICULUM

The curriculum of QDCs consists of these instructional tools:

  1. TEE CARDS (Traffic Emotions Education) May be accessed here
  2. RoadRageous Video Course Description of Modules may be accessed here
  3. Activity Sheets for driving personality makeovers to be practiced by all members
  4. Self-assessment Surveys to monitor one's driving style (see TEE CARDS and Test Toolkit)
  5. Check-lists of driving behaviors to keep track of (see TEE CARDS)
  6. Logs or Diaries to record self-observations
    Reminder Cards to guide trip by trip planned exercises (see TEE CARDS)
  7. Audiotapes for listening while driving to facilitate behind the wheel exercises
  8. FactSheets or Bulletins about national driving statistics, news, and alerts
  9. Agreement forms for Partnership Driving and other help-each other arrangements
  10. Data Record Forms to summarize the activities of members intended for the national QualityDriving databank (see below)
  11. Scenario Analysis of road rage incidences in the news to teach emotionally intelligent choices
  12. Games and Musicals to teach driving psychology principles
  13. CARRtoons and Instructional Vignettes May be accessed here
  14. Activities to do with children in the car (see CARRworkbook)
  15. Diplomas, Awards, and Commendations to be given to members for encouragement
  16. Certificates of Participation to reward excellence in driving (e.g., getting lower insurance rates)

National Quality Driving Circles
QDC
DATABANK

All QDC participants are encouraged to contribute their self-observation records to the Web based National Quality Driving Circle Databank. A generational library of self-witnessing reports thus accumulates and forms the basis for change. The self-witnessing reports are prepared by members according to models and instructions. They include

  • thoughts and feelings behind the wheel
  • driving personality makeover projects using behavioral techniques of self-modification
  • checklists, surveys, and inventories to help keep track of changes and patterns in one's driving

QDCs may also be a good vehicle for the Courts who are always looking for driver re-education programs more effective than watching driving safety movies, or doing unrelated community work. The dynamic power of groups to influence individual behavior is well known to social scientists. We should be using this power for re-educating aggressive and emotionally impaired drivers.

QDCs are principally cultural motivators for a value change. QDCs are re-education delivery mechanisms for changing aggressive driving into supportive driving. But they also are the best source of continuous data for tracking the level and intensity of aggressive driving. Trained volunteers tape record themselves in traffic and later analyze the data, using approved checklists for the presence or absence of certain emotions, and their intensity. These data would be a measure of the level of aggressiveness or stress that drivers regularly experience on that stretch of road, and the nature of these emotions and thoughts, so they may be dealt with on a public basis. These data would be anonymous and published on a regular basis.

 

OBJECTIONS TO THE NEW DRIVING PARADIGM


The following excerpts from a recent letter illustrates the kind of objections and difficulties that will be raised about lifelong driver education through universal QDC participation.


(begin quote here)
I know you're trying to find a cooperative, constructive way for everyone to just get along, and that's commendable, but by doing that, you're trying to do more than address road rage, you're trying to fundamentally change the nature of late 20th century America. That's a tall order. My suggestion, and others from "the old paradigm" is motivated by a pragmatic approach to working with, influencing, nudging, the existing social order towards a better end. If you have to turn everything upside down, it will take a lot longer and may not happen at all.
First of all, I think your proposals for "aloha driving" and QDCs are pleasantly idealistic. I see you've quoted Swedenborg in your signature, and I think I understand where you're coming from. And I do agree that the larger issue of violence in American society is closely coupled with our problem with "road rage." In other countries, drivers are far more "rude" and "aggressive" on the road (and I have to use the scary quotes, because it's our cultural context standing in judgments of theirs), yet the driving does not escalate into violence. I'm speaking of cities like Mexico City, Lisbon, Venice, Rome, Bombay.

So I agree that it would be a good thing all around if people could be encouraged to relax, loosen up, chill out, cool it, aloha. Peace, alright?

On the other hand, the concept of QDCs, like support groups, or salons, or other communitarian movements (or self-improvement itself), is almost quaintly liberal, urban, and disconnected from the larger trends of de-urbanization and individualism that are presently pervading our society. You might be able to (I'm sure you could) sell a self-help book titled "Stop Road Rage: start here" and people might do a little introspection into their own behavior, but I really don't believe that groups of people will formally involve themselves in other people's lives (or vice versa) for the sole purpose of improving their driving habits. Oh, some people would participate, sure. Just like some people participate in support groups, or salons, or church small groups, or reading circles, etcetera. But I don't see how it could become a sufficiently large movement to change society. I think it will remain permanently on the fringe. This has nothing to do with "would it work if people would participate?" I think it would. This is just "would people participate?" And absent coercion, I don't think they would.

The only way people would participate on a large scale is *if* large numbers of people could be convinced that their *own* behavior should be improved. That road rage and aggressive driver aren't "some other idiot", but they are the product of each person's "idiot within". But Leon, if you can create that kind of large-scale self-awareness, you won't need QDCs -- you will have already ushered in the New Jerusalem.

When there is a paradigm shift in science, like the one Einstein brought about, there is a period of overlap between the old and the new approach during which the supporters of each paradigm can't see each other's valid points. Out of this struggle emerges a new understanding and a new acceptance of what seemed unacceptable or unimportant before. I believe that we are now going through such an overlap phase between the old paradigm of driving and the new paradigm of the acceptance of the idea that driver never stops throughout the career of the driver.

Driver training never stops because the complexity of driving continues to increase. It doesn't just stay put. Your driving skills must be continuously updated and confirmed. First, because of how the automotive environment advances and evolves:

longer and more crowded commutes
a greater diversity of drivers and why they are on the road
multi-tasking behind the wheel (phone, radio, GPS, voice e-mail, mobile office, etc.).
 

Second, because of the declining physical functions with age, and
the tendency to slide back into the savagery of the old paradigm driving ("reptilian driving").

The AARP sponsored program known nationally as 55+ Alive has met with success and approval by insurance companies who offer drivers premium reductions for attending the 6-hour course. My suggestion would be to use the structure of this organization that's already in place to encourage graduates of 55+ Alive to join QDCs on a permanent basis. (end of letter)

 

THE CURRENT COST OF THE DRIVING PROBLEM


The following table summarizes the cost/benefit analysis of the old and new paradigm in driving. These are the factors that will determine the rate of acceptance of lifelong driver training and universal QDC participation.
 

THE COST TO SOCIETY OF REPTILIAN DRIVING PROBLEM

DIRECT COSTS

INDIRECT COSTS

  • fatalities (500,000  per decade)
  • injuries (25 million per decade)
  • dollars (250 billion per year)
  • long-term loss of health
  • increased stress levels in daily life (hassles and concerns)
  • fear and threat on streets and highways
  • weakening of our moral IQ   (condoning cynicism and aggressiveness)
  • lowering of our emotional IQ (reptilian driving)
  • promotion of learned negativity in public places leading to automotive vigilantism and widely deployed electronic surveillance systems
  • lowered productivity when arriving at work mad and exhausted
  • learned cynicism (aggressive driving norms and disrespect for regulations) leading to  alienation and disunion among highway citizens
  • greater air pollution caused by the emotional use of the gas pedal ( getting less gas per mileage)
  • breeding the next generation of aggressive drivers, continuing the cultural cycle (our children in the car imbibing our cynicism and aggressiveness

The transformation that needs to take place from negative driving to positive driving is illustrated by the following 10 driver competence skills. People in the negative driving mode are stuck in negative mental quagmire we can call "reptilian driving" because the person behind the wheel is acting out a symbolic image of the cave man mentality. Positive driving is emotionally intelligent because when motorists are in that mental state, they operate more rationally and with greater self-control.

Please note that the actual words in these examples may not fit your style of thinking-to-yourself, but try to figure out what each example stands for, and see if you can think of the exact words you would use when in that frame of mind.

ALTERNATIVES TO REGULAR QDCs
 

Not everyone wants to join a Regular QDC. There are workable and creative alternatives.

Virtual QDCs (Asynchronous) do not involve face-to-face contact and they increase the variety and distance of possible groups one can belong to. People can belong to both Face-to-Face QDCs and Virtual QDCs, if they so wish. You can also belong to more than one QDC.

Dyadic QDCs, like long term Partnership Driving, are easy to set up between the driver and regular passengers.

Family QDC is an excellent and powerful alternative.

Individual QDC. People can also do most of the QDC curriculum exercises on their own. However, doing them alone requires an unusual degree of self-motivated supervision to overcome loss of interest or resistance to change. Meeting in a group context empowers the members to each other's motivational involvement. Involvement is partially contagious. Involved members try to persuade less involved members to stick out.

Court mandated QDCs may be powerful methods for motivating and supervising problem drivers.

School QDCs allow the grouping of younger and older children together so that there may be a positive generational influence and connection. They also prepare the next generation of drivers to accept and support QDCs. See also CARR: Children Agianst Road Rage.

Professional QDCs for drivers of trucks, police and emergency vehicles, race cars, engineers.

Senior QDCs for the elder drivers.

Tee Card No. 76C3
 

No.76C3             Aggressive vs. Supportive  Driving -- How to Switch

Driver Competence Skills

Aggressive
NEGATIVE DRIVING

Supportive
POSITIVE DRIVING

YOUR DRIVING

Not
Emotionally Intelligent
(REPTILIAN DRIVING)

Emotionally
Intelligent
(CORTICAL DRIVING)

What would be your words here?
1. Focusing on self vs. blaming others or the situation "This traffic is impossibly slow. What’s wrong with these jerks. They’re driving like idiots."
"I’m feeling very impatient today. Everything seems to tick me off."  
2. Understanding how feelings and thoughts act together
"I’m angry, scared, outraged. How can they do this to me."
"I feel angry, scared, outraged when I think about what could have happened."
 
3. Realizing that anger is something we choose vs. thinking it is provoked "They make me so mad when they do that." "I make myself so mad when they do that."  
4. Being concerned about consequences vs. giving in to impulse "I just want to give this driver a piece of my mind. I just want him to know how I feel." "If I respond to this provocation I lose control over the situation. It’s not worth it."  
5. Showing respect for others and their rights vs. thinking only of oneself
"They better stay out of my way. I’m in no mood for putting up with them. Out of my way folks."

"I wish there was no traffic but it’s not up to me. These people have to get to their destination too."
 
6. Accepting traffic as collective team work vs. seeing it as individual competition "Driving is about getting ahead. I get a jolt out of beating a red light or finding the fastest lane. It’s me vs. everybody else." "I try to keep pace with the traffic realizing that my movements can slow others down—like switching lanes to try to get ahead."
 
7. Recognizing the diversity of drivers and their needs and styles vs. blaming them for what they choose to do "How can they be so stupid? They’re talking on the phone instead of paying attention to the road."
"I need to be extra careful around drivers using a hand held cellular phone since they may be distracted."
 
8. Practicing positive role models vs. negative "Come on, buddy, speed up or I’ll be on your tail. Go, go. What’s wrong with you. There’s no one ahead."
"This driver is going slower than my desires. Now I can practice the art of patience and respect for the next few minutes."
 
9.  Learning to inhibit the impulse to criticize by developing a sense of driving humor "I can’t stand all these idiots on the road. They slow down when they should speed up. They gawk, they crawl, anything but drive."
"I’m angry, I’m mad
Therefore I’ll act calm, I’ll smile and not compete.  Already I feel better.  Be my guest, enter ahead."
 
10. Taking driving seriously by becoming aware of one’s mistakes and correcting them "I’m an excellent driver, assertive and competent, with a clean accident record—just a few tickets here and there." "I monitor myself as a driver and keep a driving log of my mistakes. I think it’s important to include thoughts and feelings, not just the overt acts."  

See Other TEE Cards here

Tee Card No. 77C2

DRIVING WITH EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE Remedies For 5 Common Symptoms

 

Name

Symptoms

Remedy

 

1

 

Obsessing about slow traffic

"At this rate we’ll never get there" , "I feel like I’m going backwards" , "Now I’m stuck behind this slow driver" etc. Leave earlier; Give up getting there on time; Distract yourself with radio or music; Admire the scenery; Practice yoga breathing

 

2

 

Feeling combative with self-righteous indignation

"This jerk just cut me off—gotta give him a piece of my mind" , "I don’t deserve to be pushed around" , "Nobody gives me the finger and gets away with it" "Nobody should fool with me and get away with it"; etc. Make funny animal sounds; Make up some possible excuses for that

driver; Think about your parents and children who might do the same thing; Think about being a saint

 

3

 

Feeling excessively competitive

"Darn, that guy made the light and I didn’t" , "How come that lane is faster than this one" , "Those pedestrians better watch out—I’m coming through" , etc. Tell yourself it’s just a habit from childhood to feel anxious about not winning, or being left behind; Remind yourself it feels good to be civil and helpful
 

4

 

Being over-critical

"Look at that idiot who forgets to turn off his signal" , "I can’t stand it the way he slows down and speeds up, slows down and speeds up" , "How can he pay attention to the road if he’s babbling on the phone" Tell yourself it’s human to make mistakes; Recall to yourself your own mistakes; Remind yourself that patience is a virtue; Try to maneuver your car away from that car
 

5

 

Love of risk taking

"I like to go fast, but I’m careful" , "I can make this light if I speed up" , "I can squeeze into that opening if I time it right" , "I can insult that driver ‘cause I can get away fast" , etc. Think of your loved ones and how they would feel if something happened to you; Tell yourself you prefer to be a mature and prudent person


Other TEE Cards here

Google
 

 

Students of Dr. Leon James at the University of Hawaii
Report on Their Attempt to Manage Quality Driving Circles (QDCs)

  1. Ryan Ho (G13) On the Road to Quality Driving

  2. Isabel Chang (G13) QDC: A Cure for Road Rage? (includes pedestrian behavior)

  3. Leena Dwiggins (G13) My QDC Report--The Signs of Change

  4. Marissa Muraoka (G13) QDC--Becoming A Better Driver

  5. Tara Anthony (G13) The First QDC

  6. Janice Kamm (G13)  My QDC Report--Looking at Road Rage Differently

  7. Lynne Faylogna (G13) My QDC Report:--An overview of everything

  8. Jamie Kimura (G13) My QDC Report:--Making the Roads Safer for Future Generations

  9. Argyle Bumanglag (G13) My QDC Report--Changing the Face of Driving

  10. Caroline Vore (G13) QDC-What a Good Idea!

  11. Janice Kamm (G13)  My QDC Report: Looking at Road Rage Differently

  12. Anthony Guerra (G13) My QDC Report--Learning to Drive All Over

  13. Lianne Allianic (G13) My QDC Report

  14. Shaunna Masize="3a (G13) What are QDCs and How Can They Help? 

  15. Mei Watson (G13) My QDC Report--An Attempt to Modify Driving Behavior

  16. Shane Nishimoto  (G13) My QDC Report --Road Awareness Really Works

  17. Pat Matsuo (G13) My QDC Report

  18. Inkyung Yang (G13)  My QDC Report--The Beauty of Group Efforts

  19. James Yang (G13) My QDC Report--Handling the Rage

  20. Sandy Uyehara (G13) My QDC Report--Changing Your Driving Habits

  21. Kimberlee Kunitchika (G13) My QDC Report

  22. Shauna Masize="3 (G13) Being a Driving Buddy-- Why it's Great and How to do it Without Losing a Friend

  23. Mary Aldana (G5): Managing a Quality Driving Circle: A Group Effort-Getting Beyond the "Road Rage"

  24. Barrineau's (G9) Review of Quality Driving Circles:  QDCs with How To Instructions

  25. Cheryl Andaya (G5): Managing a Quality Driving Circle: The Effort to Combat Road Rage

  26. Fred Bacala (G5): Quality Driving Circles--Getting the Team Together

  27. Anthony Chung (G5): Managing a Quality Driving Circle: Analyzing Your Driving Personality

  28. Takeshi Hiraoka (G5): I Manage a Quality Driving Circle--Traffic Attitude Adjustment

  29. Daniel Kurisu (G5): Setting Up And Running My Quality Driving Circle: A Though Job

  30. Jeanette Knutson (G5): Managing a Quality Driving Circle: Let's Make the World a Better Place

  31. Michelle Lagunosy (G5): Managing a Quality Driving Circle: Safety Prevails Over Recklessness

  32. Jean Leong (G5): Managing a Quality Driving Circle--Hints for Life

  33. Kimberly Oshiro (G5): Managing A Quality Driving Circle: Resolving Road Rage

  34. Jill Umetsu (G5): Managing a Quality Driving Circle: Spreading the "Aloha Spirit"

  35. Phuong Wataoka (G5): Managing a Quality Driving Circle--A Test of Character

  36. Ann Wong (G5): Managing a Quality Driving Circle--Driving Personality Improvement

  37. Krissi Yamauchi (G5): Managing a Quality Driving Circle: You Can Help to Make a Difference

  38. Leong Yokoyama (G5): naging a Quality Driving Circle: It's a Great Big Task

  39. Lisa Among (G6): Quality Driving Circles: A General Exploration

  40. Jennifer Kaneshiro (G6): Being a Driving Buddy What It's Like

  41. Kristy Kato (G6): My Experience as a Driving Buddy --Days 1 and 2

  42. Raeder Kenney, Jr (G6): Quality Driving Circles - Useful or Not?

  43. Chris Murakami (G6): Being a Driving Buddy-What It's Like

  44. Dina Takahashi (G6): Quality Driving Circles and the implementation of my own QDC

  45. Quality Driving Circles: The Power of Group Dynamics

  46. Dan Hamamoto (G7): The Concept Behind Quality Driving Circles

  47. Wilfred Lee (G7): Quality Driving Circles--It's the Next Step

  48. Marshall Miyoshi (G7): Quality Driving Circles can be fun if you know what to expect

  49. Agren Ramento (G7): Quality Driving Circles: Re-creating the Driver's Driving Culture

  50. Akira Sasabe (G7): Portrayals of Driving Behavior on TV--Can I Do That, Too?

  51. Ryan Shintani (G7): Being a Driving Buddy--What it's Like

  52. Counseling application of QDCs by John Flynn.

  53. Being a Driving Buddy--Teaching a Maui Girl to Drive on the Streets of Honolulu by Corey Egami (G11)

  54. Being a Driving Buddy: What It's Like by Jocelyn Minibusan (G11)

  55. Being a Driving Buddy What It's Like... by Sheri Lieberman (G11)

  56. Being a Driving Buddy: The Backseat Driver by Jayson Nakasone (G11)



University of Hawaii Students of Dr. Leon James
Discussions in
Quality Driving Circles

I heard the news last night about a road rage encounter that resulted in the a different type of altercation. One of the persons involved reached into the other driver's car, pulled his/her dog out and threw it into traffic. The dog was killed by oncoming cars. I tried to locate more information from KITV's web page, but it was not available in their archive.

My opinion is one that is obvious. Road Rage is not only on an incline I feel it is out of control. I know many people who view do not view their pets as pets. Many feel that they are family members. I wonder how far people will go and how much longer our society will allow us to go in how we behave when we give into road rage. I looked at the ASPCA to see how they would handle this. They have a "Felony Animal Cruelty" for "aggravated cruelty", but it did not say what type of punishment (if any) doing this carries. The dog owner will probably resort to filing a lawsuit. In any case this is a sad situation and unfortunately I don't see relief coming anytime soon.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

-- Larry Lemm honked at J.C. Edgar King's car because it was stopped in the middle of 1300 West. That honk led to an altercation that has left Lemm partly disabled and the elderly King with a criminal conviction on his otherwise clean record. The altercation occurred Labor Day weekend 1995, and Lemm is still fighting with King. ``You wonder when he's going to take responsibility for it,'' said Lemm, who has sued for damages in the incident, which left him with two injured knees requiring surgery.

This scenario resulting from road rage demonstrates once again the damage that can come from giving into our anger. This situation could have been avoided if Lemm did not honk his horn at King for being stopped. Lemm could have been practiced charitable thought with King's circumstances that might have explained his being stopped. King could have let the honking go or at least tried to explain the situation to Lemm instead of having an altercation. This report is an example of emotional high jacking where one heated event led to another heated event and ultimately to injury. This event took place back in 1995 and the two are still fighting. Lemm is suing King for the injury. I was surprised to read that Lemm wants King to take responsibility, however, he has failed to take responsibility of his action that initiated this situation. I am sure that Lemm feels his honking of the horn was minor compared to King's reaction, however it was this simple act (honking) that brought on this domino effect of emotion. This anger is still building and will continue to build until both persons stop "acting out" towards each other (Lemm's suing and wanting King to take responsibility).

This ties into the Goleman's Emotional Intelligence chapter on Passion's Slave (p 56-77) and on Transpersonal practice of being in the moment. Everything we do in this moment gives rise to the next moment, therefore it is important that we are aware of our emotions in order to avoid the triggering of emotional intelligence.

Imagine Lemm's life would be without injury and medical bills if he hadn't honked his horn and given into the altercation with King. King's record would not be tarnished and he would not be sued if he had not let the horn honking erupt into the altercation.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I am one of those people that think of themselves as an excellent driver. If something bad happens, it is always the other persons fault and not my own. I guess that I have never really looked at what my weaknesses are while driving, which is probably why I think of myself as an excellent driver. I think that if I really pay attention to what I do when I drive, I will find a few things that I need to improve on. There are some times when I realize that I am being aggressive or irrational when I drive. As soon as i realize what I am doing, I try to stop and to just relax and think about something else. The tee card says that we tend to drive like our parents. I disagree with that statement because I a make it a point to not drive like my parents. My mom drives too jerky and I always end up getting sick in the car and my dad drives too slow. I drive the complete opposite of my parents. I try to drive a smooth as possible without going too slow or too fast. I feel that as soon as I become aware of the bad habit that I have while driving, I will be able to modify them all. I don't think that it will be easy to modify those behaviors because I have been driving the same way for years. But I think that with a little patience and persistence, I can modify my bad habits and become a better driver.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I think that one of the hardest steps of a Driving Personality Makeover would be for people to actually acknowledge the way they drive. I know of a lot of people that would be really insulted if anyone even brought up the issue of their driving abilities. I think that all people do not want to be thought of as a bad driver. In fact, I think that people never really want to be thought of as bad in anything. So if someone accused them of being an aggressive driver, most people would probably not believe it. They'd probably just blame the other drivers and say that it is because other people don't know how to drive. No one ever wants to take responsibility for their own actions. I think that if people can feel more comfortable analyzing themselves, doing a driving personality makeover would be much easier and more successful.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I am very happy for your recent success and I hope you continue in your efforts in becoming a better driver. I know that changing a behavior is a hard thing to do because the behavior we want to change has become automatic in our everyday life. I think the key in changing our behavior is consistency. We can't just keep on changing our behavior on the way we feel that particular day but have to stick with a behavior that we want to portray everyday. I think this aspect is the hardest for me. Some days I'll be really conscious of my driving and other days I could care less. I think once I develop a system where I will always be conscious of my behaviors while I'm driving will I see the greatest results. By doing this, not only do I create a safer environment for myself but for others as well.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++

It is very encouraging to hear that someone else is making gains in an area that I myself could use some help in. I tend to shovel out a few colorful metaphors at some drivers, and I do it to release some aggression. I do realize that it is not really a comfortable situation for my passenger's, so I try to keep the metaphors clean...if anything. In my humble opinion, if it helps to restrain and diminish your anger and hostile feelings, then do say what you want. It is better to be a calm driver than a pent up one. 

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The great thing about your driving personality makeover is not only that you, yourself are a much safer driver and don't upset others on the road or your passengers, but also you are modeling great behavior for your sister. Hopefully, by seeing what a change your driving behavior has gone through and realizing that it is better to be more calm and in control, she too will want to take on those good driving traits. We sometimes don't realize what an influence our actions and behaviors have on others, especially those who look up to us and try to model our behaviors.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

My driving makeover really began with SWR #4 in which another person rates your driving. I was pretty shocked to realize that I am verbally aggressive behind the wheel. This was my first realization that I had a problem. I have made a conscious effort to remain calm and more aware of the situation rather than just blow up. For me this seems to be the biggest problem. I think it puts me in a negative mood as well as my passengers. I have been trying to maintain an awareness of other drivers and the situation, but it’s a little difficult at times. The good thing is that I am trying. And my sister, the person who pointed out this bad behavior in SWR #4, noticed it yesterday while we were driving home. At an intersection a car made a right turn which situated him right in front of me. He then proceeded to slow down to approximately 14 miles an hour in a 35-MPH area. There were no cars behind me and I wondered why this person felt the need to enter my lane so immediately and then slow down. I simply stated, “Hmm…I wonder what this person is doing,” rather than my usual “What the #$%@ is this idiot doing?” It was at this point that my sister commented that she has noticed I seem to be trying to modify my driving behavior. I know that I am far from perfect but I am pretty proud of my start!

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

One of the bad habits that I often have when driving is the need to get in front of other drivers who i feel are just going too slow. The first thing I did was to acknowledge that indeed this is a problem and realize that my actions were making the roads much more dangerous because I tend to change lanes excessively to overtake the other drivers. This past week as I was out on the road, I did what Ryan did, and attempted to just stay behind one driver no matter what speed he or she went out. I found that it really wasn't all that bad. The only real thing that was making the situation so horrible was my emotional reaction to it, which was extremely useless and unnecessary. Most people do drive at least at speed limit and it isn't going to take me that much longer to get from my house to work even if I follow them all.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I also have the same habit. I get really frustrated when I am behind someone who id driving too slow. (They're like going 15mph in a 35 mph zone) =( I think that I should also try to stay behind a certain driver no matter how slow they are going. (Unless I realy need to be somewhere in a hurry). I think that I will also find out that it is just my emotional intelligence that makes me become frustrated with slow drivers and not the drivers themselves. I agree that people becoming extremely irritated or frustrated with other drivers just because of the speed they are going is useless and unnecessary. Hopefully one day everyone who drives will also understand that.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

As I read your posting it made me realize how I behaved as a driver in the past. I used to feel an urge to get ahead of the slower car. The car would usually be traveling below the posted speed limit and I was eager to be on my way. I often wondered why the person was driving so slowly. Now I just relax, and enjoy the ride. There’s no need to rush.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I agree that sometimes driving behind people can feel like you're not moving at all and when you change lanes and increase your speed, even if only by a few miles per hour, sometimes it seems to make a huge difference. I try to avoid changing in and out of lanes unless I absolutely can't take it. But I seem to be able to relate to your emotional state when you can't change lanes. I feel like that quite often while driving, but about different things. I usually get more annoyed with people turning in front of me or blocking the intersections as opposed to driving behind a slow mover. At least we're taking this class and learning how to deal with our emotions!!! :o)  

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I was driving around town the other day and I was in no rush to get anywhere. So I naturally just drove slightly above the speed limit. The street I was on had only one lane. Then another car was approaching me from behind. I noticed that he wasn't speeding, but was going slightly faster than I was. He maintained a respectable distance from me but I could tell that he obviously wanted me to go faster. Just because I felt bad for slowing down the car behind me I speed up. I'm not exactly sure but I was probably going at least ten miles over the speed limit. I continued this speed until the road opened up into two lanes, then he proceeded to pass me.

My comment is that he did not tailgate me or yell at me or beep his horn at me. But since I was driving at a legal speed I felt bad for slowing him down. This caused me to speed. I feel like this form of speeding is not aggressive because I wasn't trying to cut anyone off or hang turns or run red lights. Am I still being an emotionally unintelligent driver?

I don't think so, but I was curious as to what others believe. I personally hate to be that one car which causes a line of cars to form behind them.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Ok, as step 1 of Dr. Driving's 3 step program instructs, I admit that I am an aggressive driver. This does not occur all the time, but nevertheless, there are times when I admit that I am guilty of weaving in and out of traffic and tailgating drivers who cut me off. I have been driving like this for many years now, and this driving style was probably reinforced by me watching my friends and other family members drive (we're just all a bunch of aggressive drivers!) Anyway, I understand that in order to change, I have to try and change one bad habit at a time. Right now, I'm having a hard time with this because there are times when I am not aware of my aggressive driving until its too late. However, good news is, I think I am beginning to make some improvements.

For example, on Sat., while I was driving on Moanalua Freeway, A van was going really fast and began to tailgate me. I was looking in my rear view mirror and was surprised to see him driving that close. Usually, I would have probably reacted by slowing down to piss him off, or perhaps even retaliating with a "friendly" hand gesture (not the shaka sign.) Anyway, I remained cool, and did nothing. Shortly after, he changed lane and was far away from me. I was happy to see that I reacted in what is perhaps the right thing to do in a situation like that. Nevertheless, I feel that I still need a lot of practice in controlling my emotions on the road.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Sounds like your on your way to improving yourself as a driver. I actually feel the same way because I used to often yell at people or drive very aggressively. Nowadays, I just cruise it and don't cause trouble even when other drivers are trying to aggravate me. I had a similar experience to yours when I was driving home from Hickam AFB this weekend. I was just leaving the base and some older Caucasian woman was following me. I wasn't speeding because I always drive speed limit on base (strict rules!) Well anyways, she was tailing me and she could have easily changed lanes. My first reaction was "what the f*ck!," then I thought "who cares." I had just finished a long day and just wanted to get home okay. So i just let it go and she proceeded to pass me then cut in front of me. I found it funny because she seemed very hostile.

I feel as if I am a more emotionally intelligent driver nowadays. I don't worry about getting revenge anymore. My only problem is to not speed when I drive to work in rush hour. Besides driving to work I drive a lot safer.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Wow, it's really good to hear that there are some non-agressive drivers on the road. I guess you're one of the lucky ones who actually had "good" driving role models. As for myself, I find that I also learned my driving habits from my parents. However, I think my friends, and also co-workers at one point, might have also had an influence on my aggressive driving habits. The funny thing is, while growing up during my high school years, I always felt this strong sense of stereotypical male driving behavior. Somehow, it was ok for me to drive a little aggressive, because if not, I would have appeared like a pansy to my friends. This is probably why I have been driving aggressively for so long. I guess social factors really have a strong influence on driving styles.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I drove to Hawaii Kai this weekend with these three Driving Personality Makeovers in mind. I first had to think of a bad habit that I had. It wasn't hard seeing as how I am almost always guilty of committing this one when I'm driving on Kalanianole Hwy. My bad habit is that I always try to find the fastest lane to drive in. This is something that I don't always so. It's just when I'm driving on this particular stretch of road I just have to always be moving. So the first thing that I did was acknowledge my problem. I alerted the passenger I had in the car with me and told her what my assignment was for this week. I think that she's getting used to evaluating my driving because he does it even when it's not necessary for this class. The next step was to witness my own errors and transgressions. It didn't take long before I was changing lanes.

My passenger alerted me to my bad habit and I turned back into my lane. That sounds like I could have an an accident but rest assured I did check again as I was returning to my own lane. So I witnessed it. I have to say that even though I was just talking about it and thinking about it I proceeded to do that same bad action. I didn't realize how diffucult this exercise was really going to be. On to the next step of behavior modification. I forced myself to follow this one driver all the way from Kalani High School to Lunalilo. It doesn't sound like it would be a difficult thing to do but I have to admit it was close to mental torture for me. The good thing is that I made it through. The funny thing that I learned from this exercise it that changing lanes doesn't necessarily get me to my destination any faster. For all of that increase in blood pressure and decrease in gas that it costs me to drive around what I deemed to be "slow drivers" it didn't take me a noticeably longer time to get to my destination.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I totally can empathize with you. I, too, am guilty at times of trying to be in the fastest lane. Especially when I'm trying to drive back home (in Manoa) which I swear has some of the slowest drivers in the world! Like you I also realized that I really didn't get to my destination that much faster and thus, it was pretty pointless to get so emotional distraught over the situation. I think it's great that your "bad habit" has now been somewhat modified and you realize that it really isn't helping you at all to keep changing lanes. I can't believe you actually managed to stay driving behind one person the whole time . . . I think I'm going to have to try that and see how that works for me too! This class makes you realize a lot of things, mostly that there are many myths that we have made up in our heads about driving that turn out to be really false when we sit back and analyze the situation without letting our emotions take hold.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I agree that, although the suggestions make sense, it is difficult to live by them and apply them in every day life. I wonder if, after having finished this class, will I stick with some of the techniques that I have learned or practiced. I'm sure some things will stick, but others will soon be forgotten. It's seems like too much effort to be constantly thinking about different steps and methods every time I get in the car. 

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Like some of the others in the class I have found myself being very aggressive at times, as well as being supportive and helpful too. However I think that the aggressive outweighs the supportive. I find myself driving aggressively/competitively when there is a lot of traffic. It is almost like a game to me... try and see if you can outsmart the traffic -by recognizing the patterns and the flow of the traffic and beating everyone to the open spaces in the lanes. This is a bad thing to get into. The main reason is that it's impossible to do without being aggressive, or aggravated. Since I have been taking this class I have noticed that I haven't been playing the game as much, but really focusing on supporting the other drivers around me.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I was recently driving on the North Shore, and I caught myself not wearing my seat belt. In town I always wear it. However, I think that because the driving environment is a bit more relaxed on the North Shore, I tend to feel safer. I know that this is a bad theory. It seems to me that on shorter trips I tend to not wear my seat belt. For example: when I am driving to the store-just down the road from my house, I find myself just going... without reaching for the strap. I decided that the only way to fix this problem is to put my belt on before I start the engine.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I agree that it seems unnecessary to put on a seatbelt when it is a short trip or if your in the country, and I used to not wear one. However, that's where the problems come in, when I wasn't wearing a seatbelt "every once in a while", it soon became, "every time I went ot the store" then, "every short trip", then I would just forget, more and more often. I never even noticed that I hardly wore one until a friend asked me, "how come you don't wear a seatbelt?" That made me think more about it, and be more conscious to wear one. I try to put one on before I even start the car.

Google
 

 


News and Email on QDCs

October 20, 1999

Some road warriors find peace in long commutes,
traffic jams

By Alan Sipress / Washington Post

WASHINGTON -- Keith Brown likes to sit in traffic. On a typically bad day along the Washington Beltway, it takes him an hour each way to travel between Temple Hills, Md., and his job in Reston, Va. It's an hour-and-a-half on a worse day. He's done it for eight years, and he's not ready to give it up. "As strange as it sounds, I'd rather have an hour-plus commute than a five-minute commute," said Brown, 42, a seemingly sensible computer programer. "In the morning, it gives me a chance to work through what I'm going to do for the day. And it's my decompression time." Some road warriors may question his sanity.

Yet others immediately understand Brown's affection for the peace and solitude offered by the journey between a job crammed with deadlines and a home where his 4-year-old son often lies in wait with his own computer frustrations. Indeed, research indicates that a significant portion of commuters actually welcome the time they spend in their cars. The time offers many drivers a rare space over which they have total control, a breather in the breathless pace of work and home, phones and the Internet. In a survey of drivers across the country for American Demographics magazine, 45 percent agreed that "driving is my time to think and enjoy being alone."

Steve Barnett, an advertising executive who has tracked the behavior of commuters, calls it "road Zen." Sandwiched between escalating job pressures and the demands of domestic life, commuters often exploit their drive time to settle into a relaxed mental state, according to Barnett, a senior partner at OgilvyOne. "It centers them. It's just the opposite of road rage." Some experts say this attitude helps explain why many motorists would be unwilling to pay tolls that could relieve congestion and shorten their hours on the road. No doubt many commuters in congested metropolitan areas such as Washington see only exasperation, grief from the boss and late fees at day care when they get caught in traffic. But even in this region, a considerable number of drivers cherish "the chance to be quiet and meditative" provided by their daily trips, said Brad Edmondson, a former editor of American Demographics. "A lot of people enjoy driving alone, particularly those who live in households with at least two people and work in offices with a fairly large number of people. It's only between two hectic situations that you find some breathing space," said Edmondson, who introduced the survey results during his keynote address at a recent conference of the Transportation Research Board, an arm of the National Research Council.

The findings showed that equal proportions of men and women enjoy their time alone in the car but that distaste for driving increases with age. Although more than half the respondents ages 18 to 34 said they enjoyed the solitude of their drive time, only one-third of those older than 55 did. When the workday ends for Julie Koontz, 33, she is grateful for the drive home from Reston to Warrenton, Va., though it takes an hour. "At the end of the day," she said, "I'm pretty stressed, and it gives me a chance to leave work behind."

The proposition that commuting is not universally reviled has won further support from economists Clifford Winston, of the Brookings Institution, and John Calfee, of the American Enterprise Institute. In a study to determine how much drivers would pay in tolls to alleviate traffic and thus reduce their commute, the researchers concluded that motorists are far less negative about the time they spend in the car than experts had believed.

 

Friday, February 12, 1999
 

Road rage’ is learned, expert says

'Driver education starts in kindergarten and before,' says Leon James
By Susan Kreifels, Star-Bulletin

Mom and dad, watch your behavior in the car. If you're guilty of "road rage," your kids are likely to take after you when they get behind the wheel.

That is one of the most significant findings by "Dr. Driving" -- Hawaii's own Leon James, a professor of psychology at the University of Hawaii-Manoa.

"Those who remember parents as more aggressive drivers are more aggressive themselves, like swearing and tailgating," James said.

"It's not as some people describe it -- something happened and they snapped, or other drivers push them to be hostile. We've been taught to do it."

James, an expert on road rage who testified last year before Congress, just completed analyzing

e-mail questionnaires filed by 1,095 respondents across the nation in December and January.

That followed a survey of 1,040 drivers done four months earlier.

Sgt. Clyde Yamashiro, with the Honolulu Police Department's Traffic Division, said people who display road rage give all kinds of excuses for their behavior. But Yamashiro said he "semi-agrees" with James.

"It could be considered learned behavior," Yamashiro said.

James said schools should start teaching children from their first day about how drivers and passengers should behave on the road and how to manage anger.

He wants to start a new organization called CARR: Children Against Road Rage.

"Driver education starts in kindergarten and before, when they start riding with parents in cars and observing them," he said.

Adults also need "serious self-training," James said, and to support one another in "quality driving circles."

James believes adults would take time out from their busy lives to join such activities if they knew the risks they drive by every day: About 5 million Americans have been involved in collisions for each of the last few years, and 40,000 to 44,000 of them died.

"Every year, we're killing on our roads as many (U.S.) soldiers as died in the Vietnam War."

In 1997, Hawaii saw 131 auto deaths, he said.

"We are undergoing amazing risks we don't realize," James said. "Driving has become too serious and dangerous an activity that we do every day. You don't want your children to grow up and be like you.

"You want to reduce your driving stress, switching from an aggressive driver to a supportive driver. Then, suddenly, driving becomes a pleasure again instead of frustrating, plus it reduces risk."

Original story here

 

Is road rage real?

Date: Thu, 25 Mar 1999 11:37:31 -1000
From: Leon James leon@hawaii.edu
To: d@yahoo.com
Subject: Is road rage real?

Mr. D, thank you for mailing me the copy of an article by Washington Post writers Patricia Davis and Leef Smith titled "A Crisis That May Not Exist Is All the Rage" (November 27, 1998). I will be happy to comment on it, and it's very thoughtful of you to send it. I agree with the basic history line the article depicts, but I do not agree with the conclusion that road rage may not be real.

The Washington Post article is posted here:
washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/local/longterm/traffic/roadrage112998.htm

The main problem with the article is that it doesn't make the connection between road rage and aggressive driving. Let me look at the issue from both their and my perspective. From their perspective, if you are focusing EXCLUSIVELY on road rage batteries and shootings, though these violent acts have been on the increase (12% per year -- but estimates are disputed), nevertheless the absolute number of such events, or about 1,200 annually throughout the nation, is miniscule compared to the number of drivers on the road every day (125 million). It is extremely small even when compared to the number of injuries per year (about 4 million), and small compared to the number of fatalities per year (around 40,000). From this perspective, and looking only at the 1,200 road rage shootings and batteries, there is no "epidemic" and there is no big change from before. That's the point of the article, as I read it.

From my perspective, this view is less informative and real when considering that what people have been complaining about (over 50% of the drivers surveyed) is not violent road rage shootings and batteries. Instead, people have been complaining about aggressive driving habits of drivers in congested traffic environments. My road rage survey on the Web indicates high percentages of drivers admitting to forms of behavior that are both illegal and intimidating and dangerous to others: running red lights, tailgating, cutting off, yelling and making obscene gestures, and generally not cooperating with one another and not feeling any compassion for one another. This is the problem of aggressive driving and this has gotten worse, as shown by many surveys, and many different types of surveys, as well as by law enforcement records around the country.

Is road rage an overused term? I don't think so, though some people do. I think road rage is fine because it accurately expresses how drivers feel. Their emotions are angry, hostile, intense, impulsive, and irrational. This is common for drivers of our generation, and we are breeding the next generation of aggressive drivers right now, as our children riding with us, observe us and imbibe our attitude behind the wheel. When they get to sit behind the wheel, they will just start where their parents left off. Aggressive driving laws have been passed and more are being introduced every month somewhere, which include definitions of aggressive driving. One Bill now in the Washington State Senate provides jail term and fines for "the aggressive driving crime," defined as three infractions within 5 miles, as observed by a police officer.

In my view, law enforcement is necessary and useful, but not sufficient to take care of the aggressive driving problem. In my expert testimony to Congress in July 1997, I proposed a socio-cultural solution under the title Lifelong Driver Education. Since in real life driver education starts when we are infants being driven around, it's important to teach affective skills to children early:: what highway attitudes they should have, how to behave on streets and parking lots so we don't infringe upon the rights of others, and how to be good passengers when being driven around. Then in intermediate school, they can move on to cognitive issues of driving: judgment, map reading, predictability, signs, lane switching, communication among drivers, yielding, and so on. Finally, in high school, they get hands on sensorimotor training on maneuvering a vehicle safely. After getting the graduated license, all drivers can join small groups called QDCs or Quality Driving Circles in which they encourage and supervise each other's driving personality makeovers and lifelong self-improvement activities for drivers. A more detailed plan of the Lifelong Driver Education program I propose, and a description of its content, is given in the article available here.

Those who don't wish to join such groups (either neighborhood based, or workplace related, or private, etc.) may do the activities on their own, or through other techniques such as Partnership Driving and Children Against Road Rage and Youth Against Road Rage organizations. QDCs for older drivers would focus on their problems, and so on. QDCs will also teach drivers how to acquire new skills needed as more and more gadgets are introduced in the car as part of normal driving: car phones, GPS displays, voice e-mail, office dictation, and other gadgets and tasks drivers are going to be involved in the new century ahead. QDCs are excellent vehicles for such new self-training activities.

Along with Lifelong driver education and QDCs, we also need to focus on media portrayals of driving. One proposal is to develop DBB ratings (Drivers Behaving Badly) to focus people's attention on this potential source of aggressive norms where violence and recklessness are condoned, even minimized as to risk and morality.

So, I think we need to recognize driving as a major social problem of our generation. Only a socio-cultural and generational society-wide attack on the problem can solve it. What a challenge! But I think that the solution will be beneficial to our society as a whole, since it will make us into a more compassionate, less violent society.

Other Articles by Dr. Leon James

Home

Google