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What is a CARtoon?

by Dr. Leon James

Instructional CARtoons are vehicles for transferring coping techniques to drivers and would be drivers.

Coping with our emotions behind the wheel is turning out to be an amazingly difficult task, and we're not doing well at it. In the United States alone every year more than 6 million people are injured and 40,000 die as a result of drivers' inability to cope with their emotions. For most of the 6 million motorists who received serious injuries every year, the major causes were due to just four factors:

  1. their inattention

  2. their poor training

  3. their cynicism

  4. their drinking alcohol and driving

So it makes sense to use these four categories to collect and classify driving CARtoons. 




poor training
the mess drivers can create by not being alert versus methods good drivers use to stay alert

the failures and successes of driver education, public and private, professional and parental

the culture of hostility and aggressiveness, their norms and manifestations, and their antidote tricks and solutions the shocking irresponsibility that lulls millions of us to drink and drive, and the need to strengthen social conscience for all of us conditions such as traffic congestion, road work, mechanical failure, weather, and etc. that challenge us to meet them with inner strength
for kids for adults for kids for adults for kids for adults for kids for adults for kids for adults

Driver's Dilemma

Busy traffic scene. One driver has a devil on his left shoulder, an angel on his right.
Devil: "Don't let them in."
Angel: "Let them take their turn."

Convoy Dictatorship

Highway scene. In the middle of one of the tight convoys, a driver whom you can't see, says: "I want to slow down but they won't let me."

Jekyll/Hyde Driver

Highway scene. One car is a male driver with a pleasant face. He's visualizing this: He's in traffic on the same highway, but he's driving an oversized, armored, battle-ready car, and his face looks fiendish.

Travelling With My Husband

Driving cartoon a cartoon story by  Margie smith.


Here are some CARtoons and Vignettes by Dr. James' students in driving psychology


Sean Marrs1 | Jenica Guerra | Kathy Teruya | Ryan Mitsui | Sean Marrs2 |

Do you want us to post your CARtoon? Email DrDriving@DrDriving.org

CARtoon Vignettes

by Dr. Leon James

1-1 Centripetal Force

Male driver, making a right turn at an intersection. Front passenger is a woman. Backseat passenger is a very old lady who is thrown forward and is falling over on her left with hands flapping in the air. She thinks: "He's flying around the corners and it knocks me over. I don't like it. It's undignified." Driver thinks: "Who does she think she is, pushy lady. The Driver is always in charge, and I'm the driver." Front seat woman passenger thinks: "It looks like my nice guy husband doesn't care how Grandmother feels."

1-2 Jekyll/Hyde Driver

Highway scene. One car is a male driver with a pleasant face. He's visualizing this: He's in traffic on the same highway, but he's driving an oversized, armored, battle-ready car, and his face looks fiendish.

1-5 Waving Sabotage

Inside a car driving on a street. Woman passenger: "Come on, he let you in, so wave at the nice man. Wave at him. Hurry he's looking." Male Driver: "I don't feel like it. It's too much trouble. I feel stupid doing it. Anyway, it's too late."

1-11 Driving Statistics

Lecture hall. Lectern sign reads: "Traffic Psychology Lecture" Speaker says: "...40,000 deaths, 5 million serious injuries, 55 million stressed out drivers, 722 million aggressive incidents, 132 billion dollars in economic cost, and 5 drivers every year who are nice and peaceful."

1-13 Legal Speed Limit

Highway scene. One car has rigged an inclined platform in the front and at the back, so other cars can pass by rolling over the roof of his car. One car is just rolling off in the front, while a second car is on top of the roof. The male driver explains to a male passenger: "I got the idea from a TV cartoon. Now I can maintain the legal speed limit and no one bothers me."

1-14 Sweep Them All Away

Inside a psychiatrist's office. Male doctor looks like Sigmund Freud. Female patient on the couch explains earnestly: "Part of me wanted to mow them down with a Sherman tank and sweep them all off the road." The rest of her talk is in a second balloon: "And part of me wanted to let them into my lane." The doctor thinks to himself: "I leave enough space to make them think they can come in. Then at the last second I speed up and close the gap. It feels good to torture them. Hmmm. Better mention this to my analyst."

1-17 Lead Foot

Urban street scene, maybe a school or hospital zone . Police car has stopped a car and is looking through the window as if trying to see the driver's foot. The driver says: "It wasn't ME speeding, officer. It was my lead foot!"

1-19 Bathroom Stop

Couple driving on highway with "Just Married " sign on the back bumper. He's driving. She's thinking: "I've asked him three times to stop so I can go to the bathroom. And he's still not stopping. One of the 10 warning signs that the honeymoon is over." Bottom of the cartoon says in strong letters: "INTRA-VEHICULAR RELATIONS"

1-21 You Didn't Wave

Highway scene. Two drivers are being loaded into the ambulance on stretchers. Highway patrolman is taking notes in front of onlookers. One of them says: "They were knocking each other out when I arrived. One guy kept screaming, "You didn't wave!" while the other guy was yelling, "I waved! I waved!"

1-28 Drivers Confess

Highway scene. Cars have bumper stickers. "Warning! Cowboy Driver -- Keep your Distance"; "Wiley Coyote -- Now You See Me, Soon You Won't"; "Paranoic Driver -- Avoid Appearing Suspicious"; "I'm Always In a Rush -- God Help Me!"

1-31 Speeding Excuse

Female officer is writing out a ticket on the road shoulder. The female passenger in the car says to the driver: "What happened to your New Year's resolution to stop speeding?" He says: "I said I'd stop speeding when your grandmother is riding with us. This is different."

2-20 Road Auction

Highway scene. Right lane is backed up in the exit lane. Male driver in the middle lane in a business suit and hat is leaning over, holding up a scribbled sign: "$20 to the driver who'll let me in -- To collect call 222-3344."

3-1 Gas Pedals, Not Brakes

A male driver speeding and careening, while his terrified female passenger holding on to her seat, says: "Watch out! Why don't you slow down!" The male driver with a cynical face says: "Driving is about gas pedals, not brakes."

3-3 What Kind of Driver Are You

Street intersection scene. Cars turning. One car is making a left turn illegally into a one way street going the wrong way. There is a big sign saying: "NO LEFT TURN" and a big directional arrow pointing to the right. The male driver says to the male passenger: "'Course I'm an excellent driver. I hardly speed and I've never been arrested for DUI." Bottom Caption says: "DELUSIONS OF ADEQUACY"

3-8 Saintly Driver

Restaurant scene. Round table with several people looking up at the speaker who is leaning on a podium that reads: "Reformed Drivers Anonymous" Speaker says: "How many random acts of kindness did you do on your drive over here?" They respond in turn, with the person closest to the podium going first. "Four." "Two." "Five." "Seven." "Three." The last person has a saint's halo and says: "One hundred and twenty two."

3-10 Canine Parking Lot Graduate

Busy parking lot scene with no empty spaces except one. A Great Dane is sitting in it preventing car A from taking the space. Behind car A is car B with a smiling woman driver who thinks: "Good Girl. You keep that space for Mommy now."

3-20 Not Proud

Husband comes home from work and looks upset or guilty. She says: "What's the matter, honey?" He answers: "On my way home I committed a driving act I'm not too proud of."

3-35 Tailgating

Couple driving on street packed with traffic. He's tailgating and his face looks grim. Her face looks scared. He says: "I'm not tailgating. This idiot wont' get out of my way."

4-1 Road Wars

Country side scene with several highways. One road sign says: "Enter at your own risk" A billboard sign says: "Road Wars" There are piles of wrecked cars strewn here and there. A few intrepid drivers are left and they're driving along with crazed looks, dodging each other. The bottom caption of the cartoon says: "The Automaniacs" in strong letters.

4-4 Road Mayhem

Highway scene. Two cars parallel to each other. The driver of one B is leaning over and pointing the barrel of a gun to the driver in the other car who says to his female passenger: "Do you suppose he minded when I tailgated him, repeatedly rammed his rear end, then sped away revving my engine?"

4-7 Devil & Angel

Busy traffic scene. One driver has a devil on his left shoulder, an angel on his right. Devil: "Don't let them in." Angel: "Let them take their turn."

4-10 Bully Driver

Car with left blinker on, being tailgated by a large macho truck. Female driver looking sheepishly in rear-view mirror. Girl passenger says "You missed our turn, Mommy!". Driver replies, "Yes, dear, but I didn't want to upset that man behind us."

4-15 Emotional Intelligence

Television talk show scene. Female reporter is interviewing a couple sitting on stage and asks: "As traffic psychology experts what would you say is the reason drivers become angry and violent on the road?" The man answers: "Because we're not trained to control our emotions while driving." The woman adds: "We act like we don't matter to each other. Drivers need training in intra-personal intelligence and inter-vehicular relations."

4-20 Road Warrior

Husband just walked into the house and is greeted by his wife with a tall drink of ice water and a plate of fruit. His clothes look soiled and torn like he just went through a war zone. Through the open door (or window) you can see his car which looks like it's been mashed by a tank. She says: "Hi, honey, I see traffic was more hostile today than usual."

4-28 Not Paranoid

Cars on highway. One of the cars shows a balloon saying: "Just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get me." Several other cars have this balloon: "Just because I'm paranoid..."

4-46 Honking Therapy

Traffic jam for miles, drivers are all leaning on their horns, and a cacophony of angry honking rises above the smog. Passenger asks driver "Who are you honking at?" Exasperated driver replies "Nobody, it just feels good." Bottom Caption reads: "Drivers, ask not what feels good to you, but what you can do to make other drivers feel good."

4-50 Punished For Doing Right

Car at a stop sign. 2nd car tailing him, blaring horn: "Whaddaya stopping for, ya moron?"

5-3 DPM Stage 1

Group of people meeting in a living room. There's a sign on a table : "Traffic Psychology Growth Group -- Meeting 2" First person says: "I know I'm not really King of the Road. It's just that I want everyone to pretend that I am." Person two thinks: "I don't want to be a road hog. It's just that I feel people should stay away from my side of the road." Bottom Caption reads: "Driving Personality Make-over -- Egotistical Stage"

5-5 In the Eyes of the Beholder

Street scene. The driver of one car is signaling a left turn with his arm. Three other drivers are watching him. One female driver thinks: "He's signaling a left turn with his arm. His signal indicator must not be working." The second female driver thinks: "Must be one of those guys that talk with their hands. So un-selfconscious of him. He makes it look like he's signaling to turn left." The third is a male driver thinking: "Oh that @$^*& jerk! He's giving me the bird! I'm not gonna just sit back and take this. Everybody's been after my tail today. Even at work. I'm coming after you, creep. I'm gonna get you back for this. Oh yes."

5-8 Reward Good Driving Behaviors

Highway scene. Inside one of the cars. Woman driver has a big bowl of goodies in her lap and explains to her woman passenger: "For letting someone in, I get to have a jellybean. For waving, it's the vanilla wafer. If I keep proper distance for one mile: it's one cashew nut. If I stay in the same lane for 100 yards, it's the praline truffle."

5-11 Two Out of Three

Adult Education class. Podium sign reads: "Traffic Psychology Growth Group" Woman speaker uses a stick to point to a slide that reads: "Step1. Confess you're an automaniac (= nasty driver). Step 2. Stop being proud of it. Step 3. Enjoy the opposite behavior (= nice driver). One member thinks: "I don't mind confessing that I'm an automaniac. I can stop being proud of it, but I won't enjoy being a nice driver."

5-17 Driving Persona Make-Overs

People sitting in a circle on portable chairs in a church parking lot. A portable sign reads: "Neighborhood Traffic Psychology Circle" One female member says: "I'm now doing my self-witnessing on every car ride and the more I find out about myself the more I get depressed." One male member says: "I'm pretty satisfied with how my driving personality make-over is coming along." His wife sitting next to him thinks: "I'm not. And I ride with him every day."

5-18 Driving Huddle-Buddy

Woman passenger says: "You're following too close. You're constantly having to brake suddenly. You speed up too fast. Since you entered this lane, your signal light is still on. You're playing the radio too loud. Each time I've turned the air down, you turned it right up. Your face is grim and you flatulated twice." He says: "Thank you. Thank you." Bottom Caption reads: "The Benefits of Traffic Psychology -- New Human Rights for Passengers"

5-21 From Bad to Good

Suburban street scene. Father is arriving home and exiting the car. He looks neat and jovial. Wife is looking on from living room window and thinks: "He's a changed man. Ever since he started his driving personality make-over." A boy and girl playing nearby. Girl says: "Goodie. Daddy's home." The boy says: "Dad's been real nice the past few days. What's wrong?" A neighbor who is pruning his plants , thinks: "Gotta get myself on that driving change thing. His wife stopped complaining to my wife about him since he started."

5-28 Going Overboard

Street scene. Inside one car, the female driver has all sorts of reminder or post-it notes everywhere -- one the dashboard, on the front seat, on the windows, hanging from the mirror, outside the car on the hood, and there is writing on her arm and hand. The notes have these words on them: (1) Check your speedometer. (2) How fast are you going? (3) What's the speed limit? (4) Check your side-view mirror. (4) Check your rear view mirror. (5) Are you going to signal? (6) Are you following too close? (7) Wave! (8) Smile! (9) Use your brakes.

5-35 Traffic Psychology Comes of Age

Rows of cars. Every driver has a mike stand on the front dash or a little tape recorder. Various bumper stickers show. One reads: "Be One of Society's Witnesses -- Record Your Driving Thoughts" Another reads: "Support Your Neighborhood Traffic Psychology Growth Group" A third reads: "Self-Witnessing Liberates Your Mind" A fourth reads: "Reformed Driver -- You Can Expect Only Nice Things From Me"

6-2 Mass Paranoia

One car beeps horn at a crowded intersection. Bubble over every other car: "What did I do?"

6-7 New Deal About Waving

People meeting around a large table. A sign in the middle of the table reads: "Mayor's Traffic Safety Council" The chairperson standing at a lectern. A secretary is taking notes and tape recording the meeting. One of the people is a police major. Another is a woman with a motorcycle helmet at her side. The chairperson says: "The Mayor wants us to be more vigorous in our New Deal campaign. The police major thinks: "We'll need to increase our quota of tickets for drivers who fail to wave."

6-15 Traffic Doctor

Helicopter view of long line of cars on freeway. Someone you can't see in one of the cars somewhere in the middle says: "Hello, Traffic Doctor? Yeah. Thanks for taking my call. I'm in the middle of this dense pack of cars and they're driving me crazy. They're all plotting against me and I'm convinced ..."

6-23 The New Requirement

Parked car on the busy street at the entrance of the driver's licensee division. Sign on the back of the car reads: "Driver License Inspector" Inside the car, the female inspector holds a pad with a pencil and says to the middle-aged male driver behind the wheel: "You correctly signaled all your turns, you made complete stops where required, and you parallel parked adequately. However, you failed to wave back there when a motorist waved you on. I'm sorry but you'll have to retake the test."

7-3 Buddha Behind the Wheel

Highway scene. The car that passes is driven by Buddha. The driver of another car looking on says to the passenger: "He must've read Zen Driving by K.T. Berger.

7-9 Desperado

Highway scene at night. Inside one car the male driver is listening to the radio: "Desperado, Why don't you stop going fast? Just let someone pass you and slow down now..."

7-12 Waving

Street scene with cars. Motorcycle police officer has stopped a car and is writing out a ticket, saying: "You failed to wave back at the intersection when a motorist did you the kindness of letting you go first."

7-17 Convoy Leaders

Highway scene. Two convoys traveling exactly parallel to each other in two lanes. There's a pusize="3led look on drivers' faces. The two leaders of the pack are talking to each other on their cellular phones. One has a fiendish power look on his face and says: "Ha, ha, now we've got 'em boxed in. Slow down another 5 m.p.h. Now." The other says: "Roger that." Bottom Caption reads in strong letters: "INTER-VEHICULAR RELATIONS"

7-19 Convoy Dictatorship

Highway scene. In the middle of one of the tight convoys, a driver whom you can't see, says: "I want to slow down but they won't let me."

7-22 Convoy Leadership

Rows of cars in packs. Two balloons come from one of the cars somewhere . The one on the driver's side reads: "I like pack leaders that take charge of the situation, like this one. Then I can just follow them and drive on automatic." The balloon on the passenger side reads: "Me too."

8-1 Bathroom Stop

A car is driving fast in the left lane on a highway with few cars. A motorcycle police officer comes up in the right lane and looks at the passenger's window. A man is driving. The woman passenger is holding up a sign through window: "Please stop this car. I need to go to the bathroom."

8-7 Intra-Vehicular Relations

Highway scene. Car stopped on shoulder. Mother is leaning against the car door. Boy 6 and girl 4 are sitting side by side on the shoulder. Boy with a peeved face, thinks: "Not fair. We have to sit here one minute for each time Mom had to remind us to be good. Just because we were having a good time on the backseat." Girl with pusize="3led face thinks: "Mommy got so mad at us that she can't drive anymore. Now who's gonna take us home?"

8-10 Passenger Cats

A woman is driving in a neighborhood. Passenger is a six year old girl. On the backseat: two big cats. Cat one says: "I like it better when the male food god is driving. He makes rolling stops most of the time so I don't have to brace myself." Cat two says: "Me too -- except when he just shaved. I can't stand his after-shave."

9-2 Jerk

Car bearing down on an old lady in a crosswalk. She is frozen like a deer in the headlights. Driver: "Damn pedestrians think they own the road!"

9-10 To Drive or To Walk

Male driver and woman passenger are entering the car parked in their driveway. She's pointing to an ice cream store right across the street, and says: "Why don't we just walk across the street?" He says: "Too many cars. I don't wanna take my life in my hands."

10-1 Car Cats

Suburban neighborhood scene. Every house has two parked cars in the car port. Except this one, which has three cars squeezed into the car port built for two. There are two cats perched on the car. The female owner explains to her neighbor: "Minsky and Keo get upset when Rob and I leave for work in the morning. They're used to perching on one of the cars. So we had to get them a car." One cat says to the other: "I like this one the best. The smell of its tires is so satisfying." The other cat says: "And the fabric is superior for sharpening claws. I think it's the sound I like -- nice snap to it."

10-9 Selling the Need for Speed

Used car lot scene. One ad sign reads: "Patriots are not afraid of horsepower wars" Salesman talking to a couple says: "Sure this power plant with all the standard luxo bits is a gas gusize="3ler, but the way this supercar assaults the road, no one can catch you. It telepathically slides into gear and has warp-drive potential. It's King on the Road."

10-15 Family Values

Woman officer is writing a ticket to a young woman driver on the side of the road. She pleads with her: "Officer, please don't give me a ticket. This is the first time I'm driving my parents' car and they'll kill me." Officer: "Better that than getting killed in an accident." Bottom Caption reads: "Police officers protect our children."

10-18 Baby Step

A car in the left lane is passing a car in the right lane. The male driver of the passing car thinks: "Don't look at the slow poke. Don't stare at the frustrating idiot. Don't give this turtle the stink eye. Keep your eyes ahead." Bottom Caption reads: "Self-Regulatory sentences work."

11-7 Dispositional Attribution

One car is passing another in the left lane. The two cars are even. The driver of the passing car thinks: "He was going so slow. Now that I'm passing him, he speeds up, just to irritate me and make me mad. Because of him I look like a fool."

11-14 Back to Driving Sanity

Highway scene with bubbles showing what drivers are thinking: "I'm very very angry"; "I feel like retaliating"; "I'm enraged"; "I'm gonna sue the Mayor for this"; "This is not fun" Other bubbles coming from three of the cars show what the radio is saying: "Captivated drivers wake up, throw away"; "your emotional shackles, and join the"; "new way of participatory driving." Bottom Caption reads: "Road Democracy"

11-23 Traffic Virus

Meeting around an oval table. Sign on the wall reads: "Traffic Safety Council" Speaker at the lectern reads from a letter: "...And so it is with regrets that I'm announcing the closure of the Traffic Safety Council. I want to thank..." One member says to the person sitting next to him: "Why are we disbanding?" The other answers: "It started with a tourist from the Garden Isle who was driving with Aloha. His harmless driving style was contagious and quickly spread throughout the city. Now the Mayor thinks we're not needed anymore." Bottom Caption reads in strong letters: "WISHFUL THINKING"

13-29 Is Slow Legal?

Street scene. Father is driving. Front passenger is an infant strapped in a car seat. Backseat: a teenage girl and boy. Girl says: "Daddy always drives slow when the baby is with us." Boy says: "Is that legal?" Bottom Caption says: "SUPPORT THE DRIVER EDUCATION CURRICULUM"

13-32 New Deal For Driver Ed

High school class receiving diplomas for completing a Driver Ed course. The female speaker in a police major's uniform is at the podium and says: "It's not enough to be good at driving. Now you've got to be good while driving." A male police officer standing next to her is shaking the hands of a line of students and handing out diplomas. All the students who already have a diploma and are walking away, have a saint's halo around their head.

14-1 Community-Building Forces

Two men sitting at a bar talking. One says: "...So I chased him for several miles riding on his tail and honking at him. I'm worried about these deep seated emotions. What if I go too far? You don't suppose I need a shrink, do you?" The other man answers: "I used to be like that but now I'm a practicing traffic psychologist and I can help you become one too." Bottom Caption reads: "SHARING"

14-9 Some Day?

Happy scene of drivers in traffic, contented and smiling, listening to the radio, singing, waving at each other. Bottom Caption reads: "Join the Flow!"

14-20 Un-reformed Driver

Car on street showing driver and a crash dummy passenger on the front seat and one in the back. Bottom Caption reads: "He prefers passengers who don't talk back."

14-33 Multi-Tasking

Street scene with cars. One male driver has multiple arms doing things -- shaving, talking on a cellular, doing e-mail on a laptop computer, and drinking coffee. Bottom Caption reads: "The more you do, the more you can do. Not!"

14-40 Wrangling With Yourself

Busy highway scene. Several balloons show what some of the drivers are thinking in two parallel lanes. They each say: "This lane is even slower. I'll switch back to the other one."


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