"Novice drivers experience serious crash losses far beyond their representation in
the driver population or their proportion of mileage driven. As a group they take between
five and seven years to reach mature risk levels."
"Crashes are caused by what
drivers choose to do as much as by what they are able (or unable) to do. Most of novice
drivers' increased risk comes from inappropriate behavior -- deliberately taking risky
actions, seeking stimulation, driving at high speeds, and driving while impaired. Compared
to more experienced drivers, novice drivers more often choose to drive too fast and follow
other vehicles too closely. They run yellow lights more, accept smaller gaps in traffic,
and allow less room for safety. As a result of their choices, and perhaps because of skill
deficiencies as well, they have more rear-end crashes and run-off-the-road crashes than
(from Novice Driver Education Model Curriculum Outline found at
Reason has developed an extensive study of human error, based largely on the accident
experiences of continuous-process industries, such as nuclear power and commercial
aviation. Errors are defined as failure of planned actions to achieve the intended result,
and they can be of two types: 1) mistakes, that is, the intention was not appropriate; and
2) lapses, that is, the action performed was not the one that was intended. Reason has
used the error model as a base for survey research on drivers' errors and violations.
Among other findings, men of all ages reported more mistakes and women more lapses.
(Reason, J. (1990). Human Error. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.)
Streff extracted the "unsafe driving acts" (UDAs) recorded as contributing to
1.5 million police-investigated crashes in 11 states. While sensitive to the severe
limitations of the police report data, Streff found violation of right of way, speeding,
and following too close as the top three UDAs. (Streff, F.M. (1991). Crash avoidance: New
opportunities for behaviour analysis.
Journal of Applied Behaviour Analysis, 24, 1,
AUTO SOCIETY ADDRESSES MOBILE GADGET CONCERNS
The Society of Automotive Engineers, in
cooperation with the Big Three U.S. automakers and a number of federal regulators and
independent researchers, is studying the harmful effects of new automobile gadgetry, such
as Global Positioning System-based navigation systems, cell phones and dashboard-mounted
PCs. "The bottom line is we're very cognizant of driver overload and driver
distraction," says the director of advanced engineering at GM's Delphi Automotive
Systems. The SAE is drafting voluntary guidelines for the manufacture and installation of
such devices in the hope of staving off federal regulation. The National Highway
Transportation Safety Administration recently issued a 300-page report on safety problems
related to cell-phone use. (
Wall Street Journal 18 Mar 98)
(Quoted in Edupage, written by
John Gehl (email@example.com)
"Currently, the social cost of all road crashes in New Zealand is about $3 billion
per annum. (This figure includes all crashes which result in death or injury, but excludes
crashes resulting only in property damage.) About 45% of this amount is due to fatal
crashes, about 40% is due to serious injury crashes and the remainder is due to minor
injury crashes. In Australia, the cost of road trauma is estimated to be greater than $7.5
billion annually (Traffic Plan, 1998).
There are estimated to be about 35,000 road crashes (reported and unreported) every
year which result in significant injury or death. About one in twenty result in at least
one fatality, about one in five result in at least one serious injury, and the rest -
about three out of every four crashes - result in a minor injury only.
Nearly two-thirds of injury crashes occur in cities, about one-quarter in the country,
and the rest - about one in eight - in towns. Although most crashes happen in the city,
this does not mean that cities are more dangerous than other places. They only appear that
way because most people live in cities and most road travel is done there, and there is
more chance of conflict because of the number of intersections. Furthermore, city crashes
tend to be less severe than country crashes. As a result, country crashes are, in
aggregate, more costly to society than country crashes.
Most road crashes are contributed to by human factors, road factors or vehicle factors
or by any combination of them** Human factors are overwhelmingly the most important. They
contribute to over 95% of all social costs, while road factors contribute to about 10% and
vehicle factors about 7%. (Percentages add to more than 100% because some crashes have
multiple causes.) However, both road and vehicle factors may go under-reported as they can
be difficult for Police Officers to ascertain at the scene of a crash.
"Position" errors account 2.4 cents per vehicle-km, or 25% of total risk.
They include failure to keep left, following too closely, suddenly braking or swerving,
inattention, inexperience and tiredness (where not combined with any other cause).
Excessive speed (not combined with alcohol) accounts for 1.5 cents per vehicle-km, or 15%
of total risk.
"Priority" errors account for 1.3 cents per vehicle-km, or 13% of total risk.
They mainly consist of failure to give way or stop (where not combined with, and therefore
probably caused by alcohol or excessive speed). Overtaking errors account for 2% of total
Note: The above is based on a report by Dr. Jiri Rada
Senior Lecturer in Public Health, Wellington School of Medicine
University of Otago, Wellington South, New Zealand,(AOTEAROA)
Improv Comedy Traffic School--News & Tips
California LAWS 1997
The fine for driving recklessly while evading a police officer is raised to $10,000.00
Police can arrest motorist engaged in a drag race and impound their vehicles as a way
of thwarting such illegal contests on neighborhood streets. Previously, authorities needed
to obtain a conviction before they could seize the car. (AB2288)
Motorist must yield to the right when overtaken by another vehicle whose headlights are
Drivers with good records will be able to renew their licenses every five years instead
of every four years. The renewal fee will rise from $12.00 to $15.00. (AB2352)
More? Go the the original location
Copyright © 1996 The Automobile Association Driver
Authors: G Rolls and R Ingham from Department of Psychology from the
University of Southampton.
The AA surveyed 526 drivers to establish the extent to which British motorists had
experienced and perpetrated particular types of aggression when driving.
Opinion of motorist behaviour
Overall, how do you feel the behaviour of motorists has changed in recent years?"
All motorists (per cent)
No real change 34
Don't know 1
The majority of motorists feel that the behaviour of drivers has changed for the worse in
recent years. Motorists aged between 35-54 were most likely to feel this way (73 per
cent), compared with those aged 55+ (62 per cent) and those aged under 35 (49 per cent).
Motorists were then asked which of a list of particular types of behaviour they had
experienced from other motorists in the last 12 months.
All motorists (per cent)
Aggressive tailgating (driving up very close behind) 62
Had lights flashed at me when other motorist annoyed 59
Received aggressive or rude gestures 48
Been deliberately obstructed or prevented from manoeuvring my vehicle 21
Received verbal abuse 16
Being physically assaulted 1
None of these 12
Almost nine in ten (88 per cent) of all respondents had experienced at least one of the
types of behaviour listed above, in the last 12 months. Motorists aged 55+ were less
likely to have done so (79 per cent).
The majority of motorists had been tailgated (62 per cent) and had lights flashed at
them by other motorists (59 per cent), and about half (48 per cent) had received
aggressive or rude gestures. One in five had been deliberately obstructed, and fewer had
received verbal abuse (16 per cent) or been physically assaulted by other motorists (one
Men were more likely than women to have received aggressive or rude gestures
(52 per cent and 42 per cent respectively), verbal abuse (19 per cent and 10 per cent
respectively), and are more likely to have been deliberately obstructed (24 per cent and
17 per cent respectively).
Types of aggressive behaviour displayed towards other motorists
All respondents were then asked which types of behaviour they had done to other
All motorists (per cent)
Flashed lights at them when annoyed with other motorists 45
Given aggressive or rude gestures 22
Given verbal abuse 12
Aggressive tailgating (driving up very close behind) 6
Deliberately obstructed or prevented from maneuvering my vehicle 5
Physically assaulted another motorist
None of these 40
60 per cent of all respondents admitted to doing one or more of the above to other
motorists. It is debatable how willing people would be to admitting having done some of
the more serious things described.
Men were more likely than women to have done any of the things listed (64 per cent and
54 per cent respectively).
Similarly, motorists aged under 35 years old were most likely to admit to having done
any of the things listed (76 per cent) than were those aged 35-54 years old or those aged
55+ (34 per cent).
Almost half (45 per cent) of all motorists claimed, within the last 12 months, to have
flashed their lights at another motorist when annoyed with them. One in five (22 per cent)
have given aggressive or rude gestures, and one in ten (12 per cent) have given other
motorists verbal abuse. Around one in twenty admit to having tailgated another driver (6
per cent) or deliberately obstructed another car (5 per cent). One respondent claimed to
have physically assaulted another driver in the last 12 months.
Even though there are fewer drivers on U.S. roads at night, the risk of death in a
traffic accident more than doubles when darkness falls, the government's national accident
database shows. In 1996, there were more than 18,000 drivers or passengers killed in
nighttime car crashes. About 3,500 pedestrians and 368 bicyclists also were killed. See
|Posted 9/30/2003 1:00
PM Updated 9/30/2003 3:54 PM
Study finds traffic
congestion bad and getting worse
WASHINGTON (AP) — If it seems like more of your time is spent stuck in
traffic, you may be right. In cities large and small, the
daily struggle with bumper-to-bumper traffic is getting worse.
The average rush-hour driver wasted
almost two full days — about 51 hours — sitting in traffic in
2001, according to an annual report released Tuesday by the
Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University. That's
an increase of four hours in the last five years.
The price tag: $69.5 billion in wasted
time and gas, said the study, which looked at 75 urban areas.
"Congestion extends to more time of the
day, more roads, affects more of the travel and creates more
extra travel time than in the past," the study said.
The report found that the average
rush-hour driver in Los Angeles spent about 90 hours waiting in
traffic in 2001, far more than anywhere else.
The San Francisco-Oakland area was next
at 68 hours, followed by Denver (64), Miami (63) and Chicago and
Phoenix, which tied for fifth (61).
Tim Lomax, the study's co-author, said
public transportation, traffic signals on freeway entrance ramps
and other congestion-busting measures have kept a bad situation
from getting even worse. For example, traffic signal
coordination aimed at smoothing the flow of cars, trucks and
buses saved commuters 16 million hours, the report said.
The study found some areas of the country
where gridlock eased. The average delay dropped for commuters in
San Antonio, Texas; Fresno, Calif.; and Pensacola, Fla.
Still, more improvements are needed, the
report said. Among the recommendations: more roads to handle
increased demand, additional bus and car pool lanes, and
adjusted work hours for commuters.
In response to criticism about its
earlier studies, the institute for the first time factored in
improvements that cities are making, such as traffic light
coordination and ramp metering, as well as the benefits of
public transportation, Lomax said.
Data from the Federal Highway
Administration and information from various state and local
agencies was analyzed by the researchers to come up with the
Copyright 2003 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or
Drivers of alternative-fuel vehicles, with their distinctive blue license plates, are
becoming targets of angry taxpayers' road wrath. Writer William Least Heat Moon says he
gets a clear idea about how other drivers feel, seeing more and more of his fellow
travelers' "middle digit opinion."
Randy Jenkins of Glendale, Ariz., has experienced similar boorishness on the road. He
bought his electric car a year ago. Since September, when the alternative-fuel program's
costs came to light, he has noticed an increase in drivers cutting him off or giving him
angry stares. "There's a lot of one-finger saluting going on," said Jenkins, who
runs a payroll service.
Perhaps the worst result of the alternative-fuel scandal is the stigma it has put on
vehicles that don't pollute the air, such as Jenkins' Solectria, which he says he bought
because his wife doesn't like getting gas. "I haven't gotten a dime out of the state
of Arizona for this," he said. "I paid twice the price for a car, now to have my
neighbors mad at me. ... And they don't know what motivated me to buy."
|RELATED STORY: THE AGE OF RAGE
The death of decency
By MATT SCHUDEL Staff Writer Sun-Sentinel South Florida
(...) We may not have clinical proof, but we have yet to find an exception to this
rule: Everyone who drives a black pickup truck or sports-utility vehicle especially one
with tinted windows is a jerk.
Man or woman, it doesn't matter. We see the evidence every day in traffic, and were
waiting to be proved wrong.
Still waiting . . .
Many ordinary, law-abiding drivers are seized by a cold, silent panic whenever they look
up and see a truck or SUV filling the entire width of the rear-view mirror. There's
something menacing about these high-riding vehicles, and the arrogant, cell-phone-yakking
road warriors behind the wheel know it. They honk if you don't turn right on red, they
push you faster than you want to go, they ride your bumper until you move aside. Then, as
they speed on past, they flip you the finger.
It's the sign of our times.
But it's not just trucks that are the problem, and it's not just traffic. A mean-spirited
selfishness has taken hold of our culture, and it wont let go. It finds its purest voice
in the Spanish expression Viva yo! long live me.
It's my world, so get out of my way.
Even if their numbers are small, those selfish louts with their big cars, loud voices and
bad manners will continue to make our lives miserable for one simple reason: There's
nothing we can do about it. The old values of courtesy, politeness and respect have been
The indignities of the road are compounded with further indignities at work, at the
movies, on the radio, from the profane mouths of strangers, in battles between neighbors.
Pretty soon you've got more than a headache. You've got a national crisison your hands.
THE DICTIONARY defines incivility "as a lack of courtesy or politeness. " Once
you're aware of it, you see it everywhere. It's practically the defining ethos of modern
life. It has become so pervasive that, according to a 1996 poll for U.S. News & World
Report, 89 percent of all Americans consider incivility a serious problem in our society.
More than three-quarters of all Americans believe it has gotten worse in the last 10
Incivility is the root of some of the most pernicious problems in our culture. Perceived
slights on the street dissing, or the showing of disrespect have led to murder. In
Brooklyn a teen-ager was shot to death when he didn't greet a second teen-ager with a high
five. A young man was beaten and stabbed in a grocery store in suburban Bethesda, Md.,
when he complained to two men cutting ahead in the checkout line.
An unforeseen result of the casual revolution is that crass, selfish behavior has
triumphed along with it. You cant say its mere coincidence. At baseball games today, men
wear T-shirts or no shirts at all and shout profanities for all to hear. This is progress?
Its a serious thing, then, incivility. This open, dirty secret of American life is
beginning to prompt some deep thinking. President Clinton, citing a "toxic atmosphere
of cynicism" - and perhaps stung by attacks on his own character - has convened the
National Commission on Civic Renewal, headed by former Democratic Sen. Sam Nunn and
onetime Republican Cabinet member William J. Bennett. At least three other commissions,
led by nationally prominent political figures Lamar Alexander, Bill Bradley and Patricia
Schroeder, are dedicated to civic and cultural renewal.
No one can say why we've become such an uncivil society, but there are plenty of theories.
In For Shame: The Loss of Common Decency in American Culture, James Twitchell, a professor
at the University of Florida, links incivility with a lack of public shame and private
responsibility. His chief culprit? Television advertising.
Another scholar, Nicholas Mills of Sarah Lawrence College in New York, attributes the
"triumph of meanness" to the huge income disparity between average workers and
corporate big shots.
Carol Travis, a Los Angeles psychologist and expert on anger, says incivility has grown
worse because Americans blow up too easily.
"It's not that people are any angrier than they ever were,"
Travis has said.
"The problem is that we let people get away with it. We celebrate
BAD MANNERS HAVE always been with us, but in the past they didn't seem to be so
widespread, let alone celebrated. When was the last time you saw a child shame another by
rubbing one index finger across the other? Polite people are afraid, in this age of
surliness, to criticize rudeness because they never know who might be carrying a gun. The
moral authority of adult reproof and a haughty stare doesn't mean a thing today.
"Shame always hurts," says Twitch-ell, the University of Florida professor.
"It's always repressive. But sometimes freedoms can be dangerous when indulged."
Not so long ago, high schools had courses in "civics," and manners were a
central part of everyone's education. People learned to argue sensibly without erupting in
anger. Civility made it possible to find a common ground of decency. It was the basis of
everything from neighborliness to political de-bate.
Today, you can hardly discuss politics without incurring snickers of derision or outright
hostility. Just the mention of the word shows how far politics has fallen in public
Today, according to a Gallup poll, half of all Americans think politicians are "a
little crooked." Slanted, one-dimensional attack ads are the norm. High-minded
oratory has given way to mean-spirited spitefulness.
"You just wonder where is their sense of manners? Where's their sense of
courtesy?" Newt Gingrich complained about the White House in 1995.
Small towns, once considered the cradles of kindness, have seen an "epidemic of
incivility," according to Governing magazine, a publication for state and local
officials. The meetings of county commissions and school boards have been interrupted by
name-calling and fistfights.
It's no wonder the populace has turned cynical. Voter participation is at a historic low,
and officeholders at every level have endured booing, hissing and obscene phone calls.
Talk radio encourages listeners to trash public officials, no matter how irresponsible the
claims, because it's good for ratings.
Incivility in politics is nothing new, however. In 1856, Congressman Preston Brooks of
South Carolina attacked Massachusetts Sen. Charles Sumner on the floor of the Senate,
nearly beating him to death with a cane. And the most uncivil American politician of the
20th century may have been Wisconsin Sen. Joseph McCarthy, who thrived in that mythic era
of national grace, the 1940s and '50s. His brand of wanton finger-pointing has left its
vindictive taint on American politics ever since. He'd feel right at home today.
FOR MORE THAN a decade, Florida has had the dubious distinction of having the nation's
highest crime rate. That's only one of many reasons why this state may be the most uncivil
place in the country.
In Florida, it seems to be illegal to use a turn signal while driving. The roadways are
so crazy that we hardly notice news of gun battles between racing cars on Interstate 95. A
few weeks ago in Miami, a security guard hired to enforce civil behavior argued with a man
over a parking space, then allegedly shot him to death for double parking.
"We've had people pulling guns," says Maj. Ken Howse of the Florida Highway
Patrol's Tallahassee office, "we've had shootings, we've had rammings."
We've had enough.
During a five-month period in 1997, seven state troopers were struck by cars on I-95 in
Miami-Dade County. One trooper, Robert G. Smith, was killed when his patrol car, stopped
on the shoulder, was rammed by a drunk driver going 100 miles per hour.
"It was getting to the point the troopers were afraid to stop their cars on the side
of the road," notes Lt. Ernesto Duarte of the Miami-Dade office of the Florida
Highway Patrol. "So many were getting hit."
As a result, FHP adopted its Eye on 95 program, one of the country's first efforts to
crack down on road rage.
"It's an alarming subject to law enforcement," says Duarte.
Road rage is a serious problem everywhere, though, not just in Florida. Two-thirds of the
country's 41,000 traffic deaths in 1996 were caused by aggressive driving.
"It may be morning in America crime down, incomes up, inflation nonexistent," a
recent Time magazine article explained, "but it's high noon on the country's streets
Four out of five drivers, according to a national survey, are angry most or all of the
time they are behind the wheel. The National Safety Council, which administers
safe-driving classes in South Florida, has special programs for hostile drivers, conducted
by teachers trained in psychology. All of this comes at a time when drivers education,
once almost compulsory in high schools, has all but disappeared because of budget cuts.
Today, only 30 to 50 percent of new drivers have had a course in safe driving.
Post the signs now: Rough Road Ahead.
RUDENESS AND DANGER are everywhere, not just on the highway. With the state's waterways
clogged with high-powered boats driven by drunken pilots who don't know what they're
doing, Florida has become the center of the new trend of "boat rage." Boat
owners, like drivers, even pull guns on one another. It's no wonder Florida leads the
nation in boating deaths.
Delays, crowded flights and luggage restrictions have turned air travel into a virtual
bedlam. Almost every ticket agent or flight attendant has horror stories of
"For some reason, an airplane brings out the worst in people," says Jane
Goodman of the Association of Flight Attendants. "I haven't heard of anyone reaching
over a store counter and punching a clerk. I have heard of people assaulting flight
In the United States, a crime committed on a commercial flight is a federal offense. On
international flights, cases are usually tried in the country of destination. More cases
of midair incivility are being prosecuted all the time.
The loutish Finneran, for instance, was fined $50,000 and given a jail term. A Palm
Coast, Fla., man named James Mullay was sentenced to two years in prison by an English
judge after he became so violent on a flight from Orlando that passengers had to break his
nose to subdue him. Others have received prison sentences of up to four years for
assaulting passengers and crew.
"It's not necessarily men, it's not necessarily women, its not necessarily first
class, its not necessarily coach," says Goodman.
Incivility, it would appear, is an equal-opportunity offender.
SEVERAL YEARS AGO, a man in New York went on a bizarre one-man crusade against
incivility. If strangers jostled him on the sidewalk without saying "excuse me,"
he attacked them with a knife. Two weeks ago in Los Angeles, one pedestrian stabbed
another in the eye with an umbrella. When it comes to enforcing civil behavior, it's No
More Mr. Nice Guy.
Down through the centuries, every society has taken pains to pass on its own rules of
civility. One of the purposes of religion is to teach believers how to behave. Courtesy
handbooks have been commonplace in Western culture since at least 1528, when Italian
diplomat Baldassare Castiglione published his guide to chivalric manners, The Courtier
(also called Etiquette for Renaissance Gentlemen).
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote an essay called "On Manners," and Harriet Beecher
Stowe, author of Uncle Tom's Cabin, compiled a book of etiquette. Emily Post published her
all-purpose etiquette book in 1922; the 75th-anniversary edition, by her
great-granddaughter by marriage, Peggy Post, came out last year.
As early as the sixth century B.C., Aesop was passing on this moral message in his
fable of the lion and the mouse: No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.
(Contrast this with the autobiographies of Dennis Rodman and rap star LL Cool J: Bad As I
Wanna Be and I Make My Own Rules.)
But to attract an audience, each new show and its first-name host Oprah, Jenny, Jerry,
Montel had to be more outrageous than its competitors.
It's impossible to say if one layer of scum is worse than another, but a good place to
start is The Jenny Jones Show, March 6, 1995. On that date, an unsuspecting young man
named Jonathan Schmitz was invited to meet a "secret admirer." No one told him
that secret admirer was a man named Scott Amedure. Both men lived in the same trailer park
in Michigan, and three days later a humiliated Schmitz killed Amedure with two blasts from
a 12-gauge shotgun.
James Twitchell, the University of Florida professor, believes the Age of Incivility
began in the 1960s, under the direct influence of television - in particular, TV
advertising. Before television, according to Twitchell, advertising was often based on a
sense of inadequacy. If you didn't buy a certain product - a car, toothpaste, pair of
stockings - you were somehow not meeting social expectations. Individ-uality wasn't as
important as fitting into the group.
"Of course shame inhibits behavior - that's the point," Twitchell writes in
For Shame. "Of course it makes the individual feel bad. But it does so in the name of
a higher social good."
With the rise of television, though, the old order changed. If a show or a commercial
made a viewer feel upset or inadequate, the viewer would just switch the channel.
"The minute somebody tries to shame you," Twitchell says, "you're gone.
Advertising is almost overwhelmingly based on the idea that 'you're special, you're
important.' Civility is based on just the opposite."
SPORTSMANSHIP WAS once valued as the highest aim of athletics. You played with skill
and determination, yes, but also with grace. You showed your opponent respect.
Sports remain one of the few realms of modern life in which etiquette is required. If
you are whistled for unsportsmanlike conduct in football, you are penalized 15 yards. In
basketball, you receive a technical foul.
Officials have been beaten and, in some cases, knocked unconscious by high-school and
junior-high athletes. Sometimes coaches and parents even get in on the mayhem. Two years
ago, a referee in a Philadelphia basketball league for 12-year-olds was so savagely beaten
by coaches and fans that he received a concussion and a broken bone near his eye. A
Wisconsin district attorney was removed from office after he pushed a referee into a wall
during his son's junior-varsity basketball game.
CIVILITY IS, ultimately, a moral question: How do we treat others? That's why the issue
reaches deeper than you might think at first. Civility is part of the fiber that binds our
culture. If it frays and breaks, how long can a civil society survive?
Many people attribute the breakdown of public morality to a weakening influence of
religion. But, in fact, churchgoing and belief in God are at their highest rates in
In our hurried times, maybe were just too busy to be polite. Is civility simply out of
date, like crinoline skirts and top hats?
"The greatest myth of all is that if you express anger you'll feel better,"
says writer and psychologist Carol Tavris. "We'll, you won't. The more you express
anger, the angrier you get."
Anger resolution has become one of the hot topics in psychotherapy, as counselors teach
people to settle their differences without rancor. Corpor-ations hire courtesy consultants
to give their executives a more sensitive image. Some companies are beginning to rethink
dress-down days, since casual wear leads to more confusion than standard business attire.
Etiquette books of all kinds - including gay etiquette and multicultural etiquette -
fill entire shelves of bookstores. A few souls must still care about civility, or else
Judith Martin's Miss Manners books wouldn't be best Sellers.
Still, the level of civility in this country has slid so far in the past 30 years that you
have to wonder if anything can help us regain our dignity. How can the subtle minuet of
civility overcome the boombox harshness of our modern Age?
Well, if nothing else is certain it's clear that we don't like the way our culture has
been going. Incivility doesn't work. Incivility makes no one happy.
Maybe it's time to find something new to get us past the millennium before we crack up.
Maybe, for a change, we should try being kind.
Leon James, Ph.D.
Diane Nahl, Ph.D.
Emotional disturbances at the wheel can be as dangerous as alcohol or
drug impairment. We believe that aggressive driving is largely a product of routinely
driving in emotionally impaired states due to insufficient training. Of course there is a
range from mild to severe degrees of impairment. There is diminished self-control and
impaired judgment due to emotions that interfere with objective perception and lead to
biased thinking. A variety of impairments are associated with aggressive driving:
- Under the influence of alcohol, drugs, medication, drowsiness, depression or severe
Driving under the influence of these mental states is aggressive because they distort
perception, reduce self-control, and impose higher risk on other drivers.
- Under the influence of anger or rage.
Driving under the influence of anger is aggressive because it loosens inhibitions,
intensifies self-righteous indignation, and encourages retaliation and unlawful acts.
- Under the influence of fear or panic.
Driving under the influence of fear is aggressive because it promotes irrational thought
sequences that misinterpret the behavior of other drivers, perceiving threat where none is
- Under the influence of stress.
Driving under the influence of stress is aggressive because it increases irritability and
explosive reactions, and reduces self-control.
- Driving distracted.
Driving under the influence of distraction is aggressive because it endangers others due
to inattention and imposes higher risk on other drivers.
- Under the influence of speed and risk addiction
Driving under the influence of speed addiction is aggressive because it imposes higher
risk on others.
- Self-appointed vigilante
Driving under the influence of vengeance and retribution is aggressive because they
encourage retaliation and unlawful acts.
- Under the influence of habitual rushing mania, including reacting impulsively or
unpredictably under time pressure.
Driving under the influence of rushing mania is aggressive because it reduces
self-control, imposes higher risk on others, and endangers them through inattention or
- Habitual disrespect for the law, ignoring regulations and harboring hostility towards
Being a scofflaw is aggressive because it encourages unlawful acts and imposes higher risk
- Habitual disrespect for others, holding biased assumptions and making wrong conclusions.
Driving under the influence of disrespect is aggressive because it encourages retaliation,
imposes higher risk on others, misinterprets the behavior of other drivers, perceives
threat where none is intended, and denigrates others.
- Lack of awareness and habitual denial of one's own driving mistakes.
Driving under the influence of denial is aggressive because it reduces self-control,
limits driver self-improvement and imposes higher risk on others.
New brain research suggests that emotions, not
may be the true measure of human intelligence
BY NANCY GIBBS
If there is a cornerstone to emotional intelligence on which most other emotional
skills depend, it is a sense of self-awareness, of being smart about what we feel. A
person whose day starts badly at home may be grouchy all day at work without quite knowing
why. Once an emotional response comes into awareness--or, physiologically, is processed
through the neocortex--the chances of handling it appropriately improve. Scientists refer
to "metamood," the ability to pull back and recognize that "what I'm
feeling is anger," or sorrow, or shame.
Some impulses seem to be easier to control than others. Anger, not surprisingly, is one
of the hardest, perhaps because of its evolutionary value in priming people to action.
Researchers believe anger usually arises out of a sense of being trespassed against--the
belief that one is being robbed of what is rightfully his. The body's first response is a
surge of energy, the release of a cascade of neurotransmitters called catecholamines. If a
person is already aroused or under stress, the threshold for release is lower, which helps
explain why people's tempers shorten during a hard day.
It is easy to draw the obvious lesson from these test results. How much happier would
we be, how much more successful as individuals and civil as a society, if we were more
alert to the importance of emotional intelligence and more adept at teaching it? From
kindergartens to business schools to corporations across the country, people are taking
seriously the idea that a little more time spent on the "touchy-feely" skills so
often derided may in fact pay rich dividends.
In the corporate world, according to personnel executives, IQ gets you hired, but EQ
gets you promoted. Goleman likes to tell of a manager at AT&T's Bell Labs, a think
tank for brilliant engineers in New Jersey, who was asked to rank his top performers. They
weren't the ones with the highest IQs; they were the ones whose E-mail got answered. Those
workers who were good collaborators and networkers and popular with colleagues were more
likely to get the cooperation they needed to reach their goals than the socially awkward,
Anger is "an emotional state
that varies in intensity from mild irritation to intense fury and rage," according to
Charles Spielberger, PhD, a psychologist who specializes in the study of anger. Like other
emotions, it is accompanied by physiological and biological changes; when you get angry,
your heart rate and blood pressure go up, as do the levels of your energy hormones,
adrenaline, and noradrenaline.
The goal of anger management is to reduce both your emotional feelings and the
physiological arousal that anger causes. You can't get rid of, or avoid, the things or the
people that enrage you, nor can you change them, but you can learn to control your
People who are easily angered generally have what some psychologists call a low
tolerance for frustration, meaning simply that they feel that they should not have to be
subjected to frustration, inconvenience, or annoyance. They can't take things in stride,
and they're particularly infuriated if the situation seems somehow unjust: for example,
being corrected for a minor mistake.
Is It Good To "Let it All Hang Out?"
Psychologists now say that this is a dangerous myth. Some people use this theory as a
license to hurt others. Research has found that "letting it rip" with anger
actually escalates anger and aggression and does nothing to help you (or the person you're
angry with) resolve the situation.
It's best to find out what it is that triggers your anger, and then to develop
strategies to keep those triggers from tipping you over the edge.
Simply put, this means changing the way you think. Angry people tend to curse, swear,
or speak in highly colorful terms that reflect their inner thoughts. When you're angry,
your thinking can get very exaggerated and overly dramatic. Try replacing these thoughts
with more rational ones. For instance, instead of telling yourself, "oh, it's awful,
it's terrible, everything's ruined," tell yourself, "it's frustrating, and it's
understandable that I'm upset about it, but it's not the end of the world and getting
angry is not going to fix it anyhow."
The underlying message of highly angry people, Dr. Deffenbacher says, is "things
oughta go my way!" Angry people tend to feel that they are morally right, that any
blocking or changing of their plans is an unbearable indignity and that they should NOT
have to suffer this way. Maybe other people do, but not them!
|Wed Jul 3, 2002
Cloudy Days May Increase 'Road
By Keith Mulvihill
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - While cloudy days have been known to bring on an occasional
bout of the blues in some, new study findings suggest that sunless days may actually play
a role in "road rage"--the highway phenomenon of aggressive driving marked by
verbal or physical abuse.
In the new study, college students experienced nearly four times more symptoms of
anxiety and irritability on a cloudy day compared with on a sunny day. Additionally,
students were more likely to report observing aggressive driving, engaging in aggressive
driving themselves, or having more feelings of anger and hostility on cloudy days than on
Lead investigator, Dr. Mark Wagner, an associate professor of psychology at Wagner
College in Staten Island, New York, presented the findings last month at the annual
meeting of the American Psychological Society in New Orleans.
"I think that when a person is on the road, in a crowded urban area in particular,
many things can cause them to feel stress (because there is the) constant threat from
other drivers," Wagner explained in an interview with Reuters Health.
"Weather doesn't really cause (a person) to have road rage, but it can be a 'last
straw' when other things have already caused them to feel irritable," he added.
In one portion of the study, Wagner and his team administered the same
anxiety-measuring questionnaire to two separate groups of 40 college students. Students
who took the questionnaire on a cloudy day garnered an anxiety scale rating of 14.5 while
students who completed the questionnaire on a sunny day scored 3.7, Wagner told Reuters
In a second part of the study, the investigators administered another questionnaire
that assessed various aspects of road rage behavior on that day to four separate groups of
55 college students. The two groups who took the test on cloudy days reported that they
engaged in more aggressive behavior while driving, observed more aggressive behavior while
driving, and expressed more feeling of anger, hostility and irritation compared to those
who took the test on sunny days, Wagner explained.
People may want to pay more attention to keep their own emotions in check, especially
on cloudier days, and they should "watch out" for road rage from other people
when the weather isn't sunny, Wagner said.