This proposal is the first attempt that I know of, other than those of my own students, to create a Lesson Outline for a QDC (Quality Driving Circle).  I make this copy accessible by permission of the author.  This is one of the possible ways of proceeding, but alternatives should be considered.  I've added all the links to facilitate access to my materials.  Please e-mail me with your comments.  Why not be the first to actually implement such a group--I will help you with the QDC Curriculum Plan.  Dr. Leon James (1999)







The American Automobile Association's Foundation for Traffic Safety published in March of 1997 a booklet entitled Aggressive Driving: Three Studies, which included articles on aggressive driving, road rage and driver aggression. These studies highlighted the growing problem and threat to safety that road rage poses. This study states (p. 17):

"Road Rage" is a term that is believed to have originated in the United States. In its broadest sense it can refer to any display of aggression by a driver. However, the term is often used to refer to the more extreme acts of aggression, such as a physical assault, that occur as a direct result of a disagreement between drivers.

This same publication makes reference to a study done for the years 1990-1996 which points out the increasing number of incidents of aggressive driving (road rage) in the United States and the need for motorists to change their attitudes to driving and toward other drivers.

There is also a internet website dedicated to road rage, which contains not only statistics and reports, but also suggestions for dealing with road rage and changing driving habits and attitudes. Dr. Leon James, AKA Dr. Drive, has set up this website for the exchange of information, education and exhortation concerning this growing danger on our roads. The website is and is based in Hawaii. Dr. Drive has as a goal the change of a person's attitude into that of "aloha," friendliness and courtesy. It did not appear to me that he provided on his website the outline or format for a psychoeducational group, but he does have many exercises and learning tools that could be used either individually or in small self-help groups called Quality Driving Circle, QDCs. In conversation with him on the internet I obtained permission to use his copyrighted material in this paper, but he requested that I send him a copy of this paper so that it might be part of his resources.

A. Population and/or Problem and Setting:

Initially the group is being set up as a voluntary group, offered by companies to employees who must commute each day to work. The group would be in response to a need voiced by these employees, in order to help them with the pressures that come from commuting during rush hour and the increasing threats they experience to their safety because of the driving habits of others, or because they find that they are reacting, even overreacting, to other drivers or to traffic situations. They have voiced the feeling that they experience a "Dr. Jekyll--Mr. Hyde" personality transformation when they get behind the wheel of their cars, and this is beginning to frighten them, and even frighten their passengers. They feel that no matter what time they are driving an aggressivity, a "road rage" attitude is taking over in their lives. The people would come to the group voluntarily and motivated to look not only at the driving habits of others but also at their own driving habits. The focus of the group work would be using information and reflection to evaluate and alter behavior, following the principles of Cognitive Therapy.

At a later time this psychoeducational model could be adapted for drivers who would come to this group after being mandated by the court or by law enforcement. The non-voluntary aspect of enrollment in such a group would probably have an effect, at lest initially, on attitude and level of participation. At this time I do not know of any state or county that has mandated such a program.

Also this group, as a voluntary group, could be offered by a local town police station, as a public service, at the meeting rooms at the local library. After a few sessions where the first groups would be voluntary, the "publicity" provided by the participants would bring in more drivers who are more aggressive and in need of a behavior-modification driver-re-education.

This voluntary group would be formed after advertising at the place of employment and after a screening meeting of counselor with each individual. The screening meeting would cover such topics as motivation and willingness to learn and to change, understanding of groups and group dynamics, discussing that in a psychoeducational group there is a certain amount of teaching and homework, but there is also a certain amount of sharing of oneself with other group members. Issues of confidentiality, listening skills, and responding to the individual's questions and concerns about the group would also be a part of the screening session, so that the person and/or the counselor would have some sense of whether or not this is the right group experience for this person at this time.

The group would be eight-to-ten participants with two co-leaders. The group would meet once a week for six weeks, an hour-and-a-half each session, from 4:30pm (a half-hour before normal quitting time) to 6pm. The employees would be asked on group-meeting days to reduce their lunch-hour to half-an-hour in order to make up for beginning the group at 4:30pm. The group would meet in the employee lounge and in a circle, but not around a table. The cost of the program would be $ 15 to cover materials. The participant could be absent for no more than one session, because the learning and group process is cumulative.

B. Goals of the Group:

During the six-week period the members would learn to evaluate and improve their own driving attitudes and behaviors. They would learn some coping and stress-reduction skills, breathing exercises, and ways to handle the aggressive behavior of other drivers. They would learn to be more responsible for themselves and to relinquish the attempt to control or to be responsible for other drivers. Anger and stress management techniques would also be taught and practiced.

C. Content and Process for Each Week:

Week 1: Introductions, Ground Rules, Meaning of Driving in Our Lives, Self- Evaluation and Discussion of "What kind of a driver am I?", Distribute and assign reading of booklet, Aggressive Driving: Three Studies.

This first session would start with the members and facilitators getting to know one another, sharing why they have come to this group, what are their individual goals for this group experience and what "contract" they are making with themselves and with the group to learn and change. As each member spoke about the meaning of driving in their lives, the facilitators would write and summarize this on newsprint paper so that the participants could interact with one another concerning driving and their attitudes toward driving. The participants could respond to such questions as: "What are some of the thoughts and feelings I have now when I look back at my commute to work this morning? How was that experience for me today or any day? What do I think or feel before, during after my drive in the car?" This would not be the time to get into listing forms of aggressive driving. That will be part of the second session.

The Self-Evaluation of My Driving* would be handed out to the group and they would be given some time to write their T-or-F responses and then we would discuss some of the statements and their responses. (This Self-Evaluation of My Driving and any other item that is marked with an asterisk are copyrighted materials that I have used from Dr. Drive and his internet website. This and other items can be found in the appendix to this paper. See appendix, item 1 or go directly to the Tests site).

Next we would distribute copies of AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety's Aggressive Driving: Three Studies and briefly look through the contents of the three articles. The facilitators would invite the participants to read and think about the first article, Aggressive Driving, pages 1-13, for next week's session, and to use this information as a lens through which they would view their driving experiences over the intervening week and bring that insight to the next group session.

Week 2: What is Aggressive Driving, Road Rage? Identifying the Problem in Myself and in Others. The Beginnings of a Solution: Change of Mind and Change of Heart.

This second session would begin by asking the participants about the week and the readings and how this week has been different or not while driving after all that we discussed in the first session. The facilitators would try to keep this discussion short and gradually lead it to the work for this evenings session. If specific questions are raised by the participants, the facilitators could say that this will be covered in this session or treated before the session ends.

The first exercise would be the exercise, Moral Driving IQ--How many apply to you?* (see appendix, item 2). After the participants have completed the exercise ask them to count up how many statements apply to them, but do not have them share that with the group. Then have them discuss some of the statements and their reactions to them, and the emotions stirred up in them as they read them during this exercise. Ask about their observance of this behavior in others and the dangers it poses on the highway.

Next, highlight some of the ideas in the reading assigned for the session, "Aggressive Driving," pages 3-11, (Don't get into the section: Advice for Motorists, pages 11-13, just yet.), such topics as (section headings in the report): Incidents of aggressive driving, Deaths and injuries, Reasons violent traffic disputes occur, Weapons used by aggressive drivers, Role of domestic violence, Role of hate and racism, Motorists who crash into buildings and other property, Aggressive drivers and crowds, Vehicles used to attack police, Female perpetrators, Children as victims, Vehicles of mass destruction, bulldozers, tanks, and tractor-trailers. As the facilitators go through this material, all or some of it, they should engage the group in comment and discussion, asking them to share the details and their reaction to these sections of information.

The next exercise would be the Components of Aggressive Driving--Forms of Aggression, 1 to 20, From Mild to Strong* (see appendix, item 3). The facilitators do not ask the group to give their score, but write the score on the board and ask for reactions. The scoring of this exercise is as follows: Unfriendly zone= 1-3; Hostile zone= 4-7; Violent zone= 8-11; Lesser mayhem= 12-16; Major mayhem= 17-20. Have the group discuss these forms of aggression, road rage. Talk about having witnessed this or been the victim, and if there is someone who confesses this behavior, the facilitators should remind the group that this is the reason all of the participants are in the group: to listen and to learn.

The session could continue with the article assigned, "Aggressive Driving," pages 11-13, a discussion of advice to motorists (which includes: reminding the group that at least 1500 men, women and children are seriously injured or killed each year in the US as a result of senseless traffic disputes and altercations; there are thousands of mentally and emotionally disturbed individuals on the highway; millions of motorists are armed with firearms, knives, clubs and other weapons; anyone can be an aggressive driver; other behaviors that can result in road rage: lane blocking, tailgating, signal use, gestures, horn use, failure to turn after signaling, parking, headlight use, merging, blocking traffic, car phones, alarms, displays on windows or bumper, eye contact. Next, the group could look at the sections: Reduce your own stress, and Adjust your attitude.

As a final exercise the facilitators could introduce the use of a breathing exercise and demonstrating its calming effects, so that part of the week's homework assignment would be to practice this and report back in the next session. The breathing exercise would be: Settle self in a relaxed, seated position. While breathing in slowly and completely say to self: "Breathing in, I know I'm breathing in." Hold breath. While breathing out say to self: "Breathing out, I calm my body." Hold breath. While breathing in say to self: "Breathing in, I know that I'm breathing in." Hold breath. While breathing out say to self: "Breathing out, I know I calm my mind." Discuss effects of this exercise with the group and assign it for homework, not while driving, but if stopped and at various times during the day. The facilitators wrap up the session, review session, and assign the second article from Aggressive Driving: Three Studies, "Road Rage," pages 17-23 for next week's meeting, and wish the group a safe and more conscious drive home. The facilitators would again invite the group members to use the information learned as a lens through which to view their driving experiences over the intervening week and to bring that insight back to the group discussion in the next session.

Week 3: Review and Discussion of Material and Breathing Exercise from Previous Session; Review and discussion of Reading Assignment: Road Rage; Six Ways to Avoid Traffic Violence; Mantra: I am relaxed and calm; The Road Peace Pledge.

This session would begin with a review of the lessons and material and the breathing exercise covered in the first two sessions, and the facilitators would invite discussion on the content and its impact on their view of driving and driving behavior. The facilitators would discuss with the group if and how they see driving now in the light of what has been covered in the sessions and in between sessions.

The facilitators would then lead the group through the content of the assigned reading, "Road Rage," pages 17-23 (much of this material has already appeared in the first article, so this becomes a way of reviewing and reinforcing that information. In this article there is information concerning "How to avoid succumbing to road rage," and this has some positive strategies to reinforce to the group.

Next, the facilitators would introduce the Six Ways to Avoid Traffic Violence* (see appendix, item 4). These six ways might not apply to everyone, but the group could discuss them. The members would be asked to incorporate into their thinking the ones that apply, or they could compose others. Some time could be spent in the session working on this exercise, writing them out on the board and also copying them down with the promise that they would be distributed to the group at the next session. The members could be asked to comment on how these phrases might lead to a change of attitude and behavior for drivers.

Another type of breathing exercise would be introduced as the facilitators speak about the use of a mantra connected with breathing in and breathing out as a way of reinforcing positive thinking and connecting it with a breath/relaxation exercise. The mantra could be "I am relaxed and calm." Other mantras could be offered or requested from the group, and a period of time could be used for this exercise.

The last topic for the evening would be the introduction and discussion of the Road Peace Pledge* (see appendix, Item 5). The group would read through the items listed and invite discussion.

The session would close with a review of the material covered. The facilitators would ask the members to take what they have learned and see how it could be applied to their daily lives, and they would be asked to bring back any insights from the week to the next session.

Week 4: Review of the previous session and the materials handed out; Opportunity to evaluate the process of the group so far at this point a little more than half-way through the group; Readjusting Our Ways of Thinking and Driving: Introduction and explanation of the Daily Thought Record from Cognitive Therapy with exercises and discussion; FIDO--Forget IT and Drive On.  For self-witnessing exercises and ideas, please see driving personality makeovers.

This session would begin with a review of the work done so far. The facilitators would remind the group that it has arrived at more than the half-way point this session and invite them to evaluate the process thus far. This would also be an opportunity to invite the group to share what they have learned not only from the input but also from one another in the first half of the group sessions. This would help build group cohesiveness and remind each other that to change themselves as individuals, they need to know that others are not only doing the same thing but also they care about each other's progress.

The main topic of the session would be the introduction and explanation of what the group has already been doing, in bits and pieces, all along. As part of Readjusting Our Ways of Thinking and Driving, the exercise "Daily Thought Record" from Cognitive Therapy would be discussed. See appendix, Item 6, where this chart has been reprinted (without permission and only for inclusion in this paper) from Scharf (1996, page 387). This thought record exercise from Cognitive Therapy would be introduced as an exercise for the group members in order to help them analyze in a more formal way their driving experiences (and if they wanted, other life experiences) and their automatic thought and emotions that have become reinforced into a habit. The members would be invited to present past scenarios and fill in some examples as a way of becoming comfortable with this technique, so that they could learn to move beyond the first three steps: situation, automatic thoughts, emotions, and on to the next two steps, rational response and new outcome. This exercise would with conscious practice empower the members to break old habits and form new ones. Exercises, role-playing, acting out some driving incidents (by using some techniques from psychodrama) could make present and vivid the possibilities of this approach to life-situations. This kind of group exercise would also add to group cohesiveness and group focus on purpose, a way of bonding the group to task and to one another.

The session would end with a wrap-up of what has been learned, reaction from the group, and the introduction of the FIDO principle as a brief lesson to take with them. This thought, originally presented in a letter to the editor in the Orlando Sentinel a few years ago, invites drivers in a very real sense to let go and let live, to call to mind in traffic situations when they are tempted to react or to take matters into their own hands, that the best strategy is to "forget it and drive on," FIDO, rather than to allow the situation to become a time and place for escalating the event to another level of emotion or reaction.

Week 5: Review of previous session and materials; Continuation of the "Daily Thought Record" exercise; Thoughts: from irrational to rational; The AWM Program; Becoming a better driver: Affective, Cognitive, Sensorimotor levels; "How can I make my car a pleasant place to be?"; Preparation for the closing session; "A little courtesy won't kill, (in fact, it could save your life and make you and others more pleasant on the road)."

This week's session would begin with a review of the previous week's exercise and would invite group members to share any experiences and written daily thought records that they have. If beneficial, the facilitators could discuss these with the group and could have group members act out in a psychodrama any incidents that could help to reinforce what has been learned or to show how group members could act differently in situations.

In the next section of the session the facilitators could have the group work on Thoughts: from irrational to rational,* (see appendix, Item 7), as a way of highlighting how drivers often excuse or rationalize bad driving, and how drivers need to correct their ways of thinking. The facilitators could initiate the exercise and invite the members to offer suggestions.

Next, the facilitators would introduce and invite discussion of the AWM Program.* The AWM Program is: A--I acknowledge that I'm out of control at the wheel; W--I witness myself out of control; M--I modify myself one step at a time. Acknowledging has to do with recognizing and naming attitudes and feelings, and beginning to gain control over emotions, by asking what attitude or feeling can be used to replace the attitudes and feelings that lead one to feel out of control. Witnessing works on thoughts and evaluating them for their content as rational or irrational, helpful or harmful, prejudicial and provocative or balanced and wise. Modifying deals with action. Are actions while driving not only based on right feelings and thoughts, but also demonstrating alertness, calmness, kindness. The group could discuss how such a program might build better drivers and better driving skills.

The next topic deals with becoming a better driver by dealing with the affective, the cognitive, the sensorimotor levels in the driver* (see appendix, item 8). This exercise continues and expands the discussion on emotions and thoughts and points out how these can be related to body and action. This material, presented in the appendix, could be handed out to the group and discussed.

The group could then discuss "How can I make my car a pleasant place to be?"

Here such things like air-conditioning, radio, tape and CD player, pro's and con's of car phones and other technological gadgets/distractions. What helps or hinders safe driving?

The group should be prepared by the facilitators for the up-coming closing session. The group should be asked about any unfinished business. The leaders should stress the importance of coming and using this time to review initial goals, transferring what has been done in the group out into the real world and the future. The value and importance of saying good-bye, the question of follow-up, the need for evaluation are all mentioned as part of closing.

The final exercise would be the facilitators stressing that "A little courtesy won't kill you," and talking about the need for courtesy, kindness, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" on the road. Each group member could be invited to mention some random act of kindness that might practice in the up-coming week.

Week 6: Review of the past five weeks work; Call for unfinished business; Fill out evaluation forms; Possible follow-up; Thank you's and good-bye's

The final session provides the group with an opportunity to review quickly the work accomplished and the exercises used throughout the sessions. This quick overview helps reinforce all that has been done and shows the members the final picture made up of the many pieces over five sessions.

The chance for people to mention unfinished business is also an opportunity for people to speak about areas where the sessions have pointed out that all is not completed and that is time ahead and beyond for that to be done.

Evaluation forms could then be filled out (see appendix, item 9). This exercise prepares and focuses the members for the next part of the session: the thank you's and good-bye's. The possibility of a follow-up session could be introduced and discussed. If some or all in the group expressed an interest, a reunion session could be set for perhaps a month in the future.

The facilitators could begin with the expression of their thanks and appreciation as a way of beginning of this closure process. They should invite the members to thank one another for what they have learned from each other. When the thank you's and good-bye's have concluded, the leaders could invite the group to recite together the Road Peace Pledge as a way of affirming the work accomplished and the commencement, new beginning, that is signaled by this final session of the group. This becomes a way of gently "pushing them out of the nest to fly on their own."



____ In routine driving situations, I usually conduct incorrect or illegal acts such as speeding and tailgating.

____ I usually drive with insufficient concentration and get easily distracted.

____ While driving in traffic I tend not to notice any signs or the traffic conditions.

____ I like to keep up with traffic without breaking the speed limit.

____ I use verbalization or self-regulatory sentences as reminders for better self-control and alertness.

____ I express great appreciation for the good things in driving (comfort, convenience, beauty, importance, etc.).

____ I tend to blame others for causing my own frustration in a driving situation.

____ I tend to use negative fantasy towards other motorists who have made me angry.

____ I tend to find personal justification for the wrong things that I do (e.g. speeding or failing to yield when in a hurry).

____ I usually analyze my driving situations to make sense of what is making me angry.

____ I create reasonable explanations for the intentions or behaviors of other highway users.

____ I try to see things through the eyes or perspective of other drivers such as driving a mile in their seat.

____ When other drivers offend me, I usually want to retaliate against them.

____ I don't care about the safety and comfort of other passengers.

____ I usually deny my own guilt or act hostile when I am told of my faults.

____ I care about other people's feelings.

____ I am afraid of causing injury or damage to others.

____ I use moral judgments toward my driving actions, thoughts and impulses.


____ When there is heavy traffic in front of me going in the same direction, I weave and try to get ahead.

____ When another car is trying to cross my path or enter my lane, I close the gap to prevent it from entering.

____ When I'm late in getting to my destination, I become less patient and tailgate slow- moving motorists.

____ When someone cuts me off and then proceeds to slow down, I feel like hitting that car from the back.

____ When a driver cuts in front of me suddenly, especially without signaling first, I get very nasty thoughts about them.

____ When I'm showing off for friends, I take too many risks.

____ When I'm listening to loud, fast music on my stereo, I drive like I feel.

____ When I drive late at night, I become a speed demon.

____ When I encounter road-hugging pedestrians, I feel like pushing them out of the way.

____ When other drivers become aggressive or tailgate me, I slow down to punish them.

____ When I'm surrounded by other cars and I get that closed-in feeling, I feel like bolting out.

____ When I'm under stress due to work, I get very angry at all the other drivers and I take it out on them.

____ When I have problems on my mind and it's hot and people cut in front of me, I want everybody else to get off the road.

____ When a passenger criticizes me, it puts me in a bad mood and I retaliate verbally.

____ When there is an aggressive environment around me and cocky motorists drive recklessly next to me, I get into an angry, rebellious mood.

____ When other drivers think that they are the only ones on the road and act carelessly, I start hating them.

____ When cars next to me or behind me do something stupid like signaling and then not turning, I call them bad names in my mind.

____ When others squeeze their cars in front of me and I have to come to a screeching halt, I feel like crashing into them to teach them a lesson.

____ When others don't follow traffic signals like failing to make a full stop, I lambaste them with terrible words.

____ When I'm in a rush to get somewhere, upset, or frustrated and I feel that it's taking more time than I can afford, I then cut in front of other cars and go through yellow lights.


1. Mentally condemning other drivers.

2. Verbally denigrating other drivers to a passenger in your vehicle.

3. Closing ranks to deny someone entering your lane because you're frustrated or upset.

4. Giving another driver the "stink eye" to show disapproval.

5. Speeding past another car or revving the engine as a sign of protest.

6. Preventing another driver from passing because you're mad.

7. Tailgating to pressure a driver to go faster or get out of the way.

8. Fantasizing physical violence against another driver.

9. Honking or yelling at someone through the window to indicate displeasure.

10. Making a visible obscene gesture at another driver.

11. Using your car to retaliate by making sudden threatening maneuvers.

12. Pursuing another car in chase because of a provocative insult.

13. Getting out of the car and engaging in a verbal dispute, on a street or in a parking lot.

14. Carrying a weapon in the car in case you decide to use it in a driving incident.

15. Deliberately bumping or ramming another car in anger.

16. Trying to run another car off the road to punish the driver.

17. Getting out of the car and beating or battering someone as a result of a road exchange.

18. Trying to run someone down whose actions angered you.

19. Shooting at another car.

20. Killing someone.


Some phrases that could be used, thought about and repeated, as a way of reinforcing my commitment to safe driving--

1. I am committed to obeying all traffic signs and regulations. I keep track of my speed and I am committed to making a full stop at all stop signs, forcing myself to wait for the "dip" before taking my foot off the brake.

2. I remind myself regularly to drive as if I'm being videotaped on a live TV show with the camera and mike right in my car. No cussing, no yelling, no threatening gestures. All of that would be too embarrassing on the national network. So I stay well-behaved.

3. I keep alive the conviction that driver errors be considered from a moral and spiritual point of view. Is breaking the speed limit immoral? Isn't it a sin to injure someone as a result of my impatience? Is threatening a pedestrian with my car an evil act? Isn't drunk driving a crime against humanity?

4. I use self-regulatory sentences to defuse and de-dramatize driver exchanges in traffic. If I hear myself denigrate someone ("Stupid driver!" Why don't you watch it!"), I immediately use counter-propaganda sentences, such as "Come on. Be nice. Give the man/woman a break." Or if I think that someone is tailgating me and out to get me, I tell myself, "Take it easy. He probably isn't even aware he's following too close." or "He's probably in a hurry. Maybe I can pull over and let him pass."

5. I keep myself knowledgeable on the subject of driving. The library has a tremendous amount of books and magazines on driver behavior, accident statistics, traffic safety education, and so on. Reading forces me to re-appraise the situation.

6. I let my passenger(s) help me. Until I became an informed driver, I responded defensively and aggressively whenever the passenger commented on one of my dangerous or inappropriate actions. For the passenger to say anything at all meant a fight. Now, however, I listen.



These series of phrases could be used as a mind and attitude setting exercise to be read by the person before getting into the car to drive and/or read during the day as a way of reinforcing the desired shift in attitude and behavior.

I'm tired of the roadway as a battlefield. From now on:

1. I acknowledge that we're all in this together, cars are here to stay, and we need to make peace with each other while driving.

2. I'll drive gently without anger, and actually obey the laws learned back when I got my license.

3. I'll leave generous amounts of room between my car and the car ahead because in driving, as in loving, there should be lots of spaces in our togetherness.

4. I'll not care when other cars pass me, remembering that driving isn't a race...ultimately, it's a way for us to get home.

5. I won't rubberneck, ever, acknowledging that if my life is so boring that I am entertained by fender-benders or other motorists being ticketed, then I need to re-evaluate more than just my driving skills.

6. I'll never speed up to block other cars. Instead, I'll make room for those who need it on the freeway or in the lane that I am in.

7. The only hand gesture I'll use while driving is to wave to say "Thanks." And no cheating; I'll remember that a Road Peace salute always uses all five fingers.

8. I'll stick to the slow lane while driving the speed limit, recognizing that some people will exceed the speed limit and will want access to the faster lanes, and it's not my job to prevent them from breaking the law, no matter how justifiably self-righteous I may feel.

9. I'll be patient with slower less confident, less skilled drivers, remembering they may be lost or from out-of-town, and that there have been times when, I, too, have driven cluelessly when in unfamiliar territory.

10. I'll remember we're not at war with two-wheelers (bicyclists/motorcyclists), and no-wheelers (pedestrians), and will practice Road Peace with them as well.


(reprinted from: Scharf, Richard. (1996). Theories of Psychotherapy and Counseling: Concepts and Cases. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company, page 387, where source for this chart is noted.

photo copy  of page 387


Some suggestions under a few headings to guide the group to add more and discuss the phrases and the process.

1. List some irrational thoughts and emotion-causing statements that affect driving safety and sanity:

--I'm going to be late, if I don't hurry up.

--Why is that whenever I'm rushing, the traffic is heavy.

--Why are the cars going so slow and blocking my way.

--I'll never get there at this speed.

--Why is the light taking so long to change?

--Why are there always so many idiot drivers on the road when I'm trying to get to work and to home.

--I can't help it if I speed. I'm just keeping up with the flow of traffic.

--Why are there no cops around to direct traffic. They all must be at Dunkin' Donuts.


2. List of some rational thoughts and emotion-calming statements.

--Nice and slow. Take it easy. Remain calm and focused.

--Have some patience. Be courteous.

--I have to remember to control my temper. Shouting is not going to make it better.

--I didn't speed or run a yellow light all day. That really feels good.



Dr. Drive offers two stages for this process and three levels (affective, cognitive, sensorimotor) for each stage:

Stage 1: Becoming a reformed driver:

Affective level: Overcoming resistance to change

--inhibiting or mitigating or moderating states of anger and aggression

--allowing passengers to complain or make suggestions

--inhibiting swearing, cussing and other explosive behaviors

--reaffirming the value of becoming a reformed driver

--activating higher motives within the self, e.g., love of order and justice, patriotism, nobility, chivalry, public spiritedness, charity, friendliness to strangers, "aloha"

Cognitive level: Rational analysis of traffic incidents

--avoidance of attribution of error

--counteracting one's self-serving bias

--maintaining a self-witnessing focus

--acquiring new, more benign, more socialized self-regulatory phrases

Sensorimotor level: Giving the appearance of being a reformed driver

--waving, smiling, signaling

--not crowding, not rushing in, not swearing

--not aggressing against passengers

--acting being in a good mood

Stage 2: Becoming a Facilitative Driver:

Affective level: Maintaining loyalty to one's driving image and reputation

--feeling responsible for incidents and seeking opportunities to make reparation

--feeling upset at one's unfriendly behaviors and impulses

--feeling good about behaving nobly

--delighting in orderliness and mutual regard

--feeling enthusiasm for sharing traffic psychology with others

--feeling appreciation when being given advice by a passenger

--being forgiving of other's mistakes and weaknesses

Cognitive level: Reasoning like a traffic psychologist

--acknowledging one's driving errors and marking and rehearsing the solution

--observing other driver's behaviors objectively and impartially

Sensorimotor level: Behaving like a happy, reformed driver

--noticing and being helpful to other drivers

--verbalizing nice sentiments

--enjoying the ride and relaxing


1. What did I like best about this group experience?

2. What did I like the least about this group experience?

3. If this group experience is to be offered again, the following things should be included or left out.

4. Did you notice any change in your driving awareness as a result of these sessions? What happened?

5. Would you recommend this group experience to others? Why or Why not?

6. Any other comments.


References and Resources

The primary resource for this presentation was the material provided through the internet website: and the work of Dr. Leon James, also known as Dr. Drive or Dr.Driving. He is planning to put much of his website information in book form in the future.

Another resource used for this presentation is the study prepared by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, Aggressive Driving: Three Studies. Washington, DC, 1997. The three articles are:

Mizell, Louis. "Aggressive Driving."

Joint, Matthew. "Road Rage."

Connell, Dominic, and Joint, Matthew. "Driver Aggression."

Further Resources:

Ellis, Albert. (1977). Anger: How to Live With and Without It. Bombay, India: Jaico Publishing House.

Greenberg, Jerrold S. (1993, 4th Edition). Comprehensive Stress Management. Dubuque, IA: Wm. C. Brown Communications, Inc.

Juntunen, Cindy L., Cohen, B. Beth, and Wolszon, Linda R. (1997) Women and Anger: A Structured Group. The Journal for Specialists in Group Work, 22 (2),97-110.

Lehrer, Paul, and Woolfolk, Robert (eds.). (1993, 2nd Edition). Principles and Practice of Stress Management. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Scharf, Richard. (1996). Theories of Psychotherapy and Counseling: Concepts and Cases. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company.