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Aggressive Driving Analyzed:
National Web Based Survey of 1,200 drivers (August, 2000)

The Effect of Age, Gender, and Type of Car Driven
Across the States

by Dr. Leon James

Table of Contents

You can scroll down to explore things, or click on these topics

Overview of Findings

Explanation about the Second Sample

How to Read the Tables and Graphs

Item 10:  Your excellence as a driver

Item 11:  My aggressiveness as a driver

Item 16:  Lane hopping without signaling

Item 18: Driving through red lights

Item 20:  Swearing, cussing, and name calling

Items 21, 30, 38: Impatience, Hostility, Road Rage

 

Item 22:  Breaking the speed limit
by 15 to 25 mph

Item 26:  Making an insulting gesture

Item 27:  Tailgating dangerously

Item 29:  Cruising in the passing
lane

Item 39:  Experiencing rage while driving

Item 40:  Enjoying fantasies of violence

Item 42: Feeling compassion for another driver

Item 57:  Parents yelling at another driver

Items 74 to 79:  Support for Initiatives

My Interpretations of These Findings

See Exact Wording of the Questions here

Summary of Findings

I take these results to be evidence that aggressive driving is a cultural norm that we acquire from parents and the media.  These anti-social practices behind the wheel have become a tradition.  Children imbibe them, boys and girls each in their own ways, suitable to their gender and age. Our driver education begins as infants while riding in cars driven by adults who yell, curse, swear, make insulting gestures, break driving regulations like going through red light or doing some serious speeding. Everyone of these aggressive and hostile behaviors is documented in this national survey of 1095 drivers.

The culturally transmitted norms of aggressive driving are not unitary and rigid, but vary demographically through the population.  Drivers behave badly in a variety of ways, and these varieties are influenced by geographic state and type of car.  Numerous statistically significant results are presented in dozens of graphs and tables throughout this document so that everyone can examine the pattern of relationships between specific types of aggressive behaviors in relation to age of drivers, their gender, the type of car they drive, and the state they drive in.

As a society, therefore, we must recognize that cultural transmission and tradition are responsible factors in aggressive driving, and contribute to it.  Therefore cultural techniques of re-education are needed to reverse the generational trend.  We can collect all sorts of advice and hints for how to stop the increase in aggressive driving. If this trend is not reversed, we can expect aggressive driving to increase, despite the more extensive law enforcement and electronic 'surveillance' initiatives that are being instituted throughout the country. 

The full solution or elimination of this problem lies in consciously and deliberately reversing the cultural tradition that allows us to express hostility behind the wheel (see here for a list of the top complaints drivers have about one another).  It's obvious that feelings run very intense and to solve this problem is easier said than done.  In my role as DrDriving, I have been providing various types of self-management tools and socially dynamic methods of  motivating drivers to accept the idea of Lifelong Driver Education as a matter of social responsibility, as outlined above in this document. The overall goal of driver education must be explicitly stated in positive terms, rather than merely negative. 

The goal must be to evolve a cultural norm for driving that can be called Supportive Driving, in opposition to Aggressive Driving.  Oddly enough, research by psychologists has remained limited to a few problems--see my large bibliography of driving research here. We need to understand the difference between these two opposing driving styles and philosophies.  Car society is now beginning its second century. For the first century society was able to license drivers through minimal training and examination, and this approach worked for a while, but things started braking down in the 1950s when more and more drivers began to drive the fast moving vehicles placed in their hands.  The death rate climbed to above 50,000 for many years.  It was brought down to its current 42,000 fatalities a year through better car design, better road engineering, more safety laws, better paramedical services.  Learning how to stop the increase of road rage can mean the difference between drivers having to junk a car or lose their life than simply sharing the road peacefully with those around us.

Still, 42,000 fatalities year after year turns the highways into war zones (about 50,000 American fatalities were incurred in the entire six-year Vietnam war). Add to this amazing carnage, 6 million crashes with enormous suffering and disruption to lives for millions, and an economic cost of 200 billion per year, and you begin to realize that we are having an enormously serious problem to fix.  The goal:  to turn the 177 million drivers in this nation (the number is climbing...) into Supportive Drivers.  Since this philosophy is contrary to tradition, habit, and convenience we are faced with people's massive opposition to their self-transformation.  Drivers have their own theory as to why drivers makes them mad.  These popular but non-adaptive attitudes and rationalizations must be abandoned in favor of emotionally more intelligent alternatives.

I have been studying this resistance to driver self-improvement for two decades, first in myself, then with other drivers as well.  A necessary departing strategy had to be the identification of aggressive behaviors by drivers.  This led to a taxonomy or inventory of hundreds of driving behaviors in three areas of the driver's habits:  affective (the driver's attitudes, motives, and moral feelings), cognitive (the driver's emotional intelligence and judgment), and sensorimotor (the driver's vehicle manipulation (including gestures and verbalizations).  I also used this taxonomy of driver behaviors to catalogue the complaints drivers have about one another.  You can get the details by examining the various links I provided for each topic in my table outlining the details of lifelong driver education.  I have also used this approach in a video course for driver re-education based on these same objectives.

 

What do people consider dangerous?

Is this act dangerous?

Percentage
who say YES

Tailgating

84%

Passing on the shoulder

83

Driving through yellow lights that are turning red

73

Waiting until the last second to merge with traffic on the highway

73

Failing to yield to merging traffic

71

Changing lanes without signaling

70

Driving 10 mph or more over the speed limit

62

Cruising in the passing lane, forcing others to pass on the right

58

Making rude gestures

50

Flashing high beams at the car in front of you

54

Driving 10 mph or slower under the speed limit

42

Pulling into a parking space someone else is waiting for

39

Double parking

38

Honking the horn

26

How do Americans define aggressive driving?

Is this act aggressive?

Percentage
who say YES

 

 

Tailgating

95%

Making rude gestures

91

Passing on the shoulder

90

Pulling into a parking space someone else is waiting for

88

Failing to yield to merging traffic

85

Flashing high beams at the car in front of you

74

Waiting until the last second to merge with traffic on the highway

66

Changing lanes without signaling

66

Driving through a yellow light that is turning red

62

Honking the horn

53

Double parking

53

Driving 10 mph or slower under the speed limit

27

A nationally representative telephone survey of 1000 adult licensed drivers was conducted by Global Strategy Group between March 17 and March 28, 2000.  Concurrent telephone surveys were conducted with approximately 100 adult licensed drivers in each of five cities Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland, Indianapolis, and Minneapolis. A summary of the key findings from the national and city-specific surveys was then developed. The margin error is + 3.1%.

original here

Overview of the Findings thus far...

The pattern of results thus far lead me to the following conclusions:

Aggressive driving is made up of a syndrome of habits that stick together with plenty of individual variation.

Young drivers are more aggressive in all driving behaviors than older drivers; senior drivers are the least aggressive.

Men are more aggressive than women when they drive sports cars and light trucks (S-10, Pick-up, Ram, Ranger, F-150, Silverado, Dakota, etc.); women are more aggressive than men when they drive SUVs and luxury cars.  For economy and family cars, it depends on the specific behavior.

There appear to be three psychological categories of vehicles people drive:  tough driving cars (sports, light trucks, SUVs), soft driving cars (economy, family), and special driving cars (vans, luxury).  Each of these psychological categories has its own aggressive driving syndrome that distinguishes it from the others.

It is evident that aggressive driving is a cultural norm that is generationally transmitted as a habit imbibed in childhood when riding with parents and reinforced by repeated media portrayals of drivers behaving badly.   To get us out of this, I propose a program of Lifelong Driver Education.

Now for the details, look below.  It takes me many hours to tabulate, analyze, present, and write up the survey results--but it is a labor of love.  As DrDriving, I feel it my duty to help the public gain understanding of the aggressive driving problem.  Enjoy!  And I'd be delighted to read your comments! E-mail DrDriving

           

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The Second Sample:

The sample was made up of 1095 people who clicked on the link that announces DrDriving's Road Rage Survey on my site, and decided to fill it out.  The answers were entirely anonymous, as the form did not collect name information.  No other information  such as cookies was obtained.   The time period was between September 23, 1998 and January 16, 1999.  The mean age was 28 with an overall range of 14 to 94 years old.   However, the distribution for years of experience for this sample of 1095 is highly skewed, with the majority  of the sample having less than 10 years experience.   Click here to see the distribution.

There were somewhat more male respondents (612) than female (475).  I think that this sample would be representative of that portion of our general population that is Internet literate.   Note that this second sample of 1095 drivers is entirely different and independent from the earlier survey reported here.

Although we cannot consider this group of 1095 respondents as a random sample, nor a representative sample of the 177 million US drivers, we can make legitimate comparisons between the demographic sub-groups that happen to be in the sample.  For instance,  the largest sub-group had less than 10 years driving experience, but there were smaller sub-groups that had a lot more experience:  over 100 drivers (or 10% of the sample) had up to 24 years of experience, and almost as many had 30 years of experience.  So we can do a statistical comparison between these sub-groups, and if it comes out significant, you can generalize the results to all drivers in that age category.

By policy, I present only significant results, though once in a while I will use a "strong trend" if there is statistical indication that with increased size of the sample, the strong trend will turn into a significant difference.

By tradition and accepted standards, I use the 5% error rate (that is, the 95% significance rate) for significance levels, though with large samples such as this, the significance levels are typically much higher (p<.0001) as you'll see by inspecting the Tables provided with each Graph.

I will discuss four interrelated issues:  the Gender Issue; the Age Issue; and the Type of Car IssueI will also discuss Geographic Location by State.  By clicking on the sub-headings for each survey item I analyze,  you can inspect the Tables and the Graphs for that item.  Then please click Back  to continue here.

How to Read the Tables and Graphs:

If you look at the survey form itself, you'll be able to see better what the numbers mean.  I use two types of numbers:   a scale from 1 to 10 and percentages.  All results are in these two types of numbers.  For example, when you click on the  link below, AGGRESSIVENESS SELF-RATING--by Gender and Type of Car, you'll see statistical tables and graphs.  The Tables show you the size of each group ("Count"), the mean for that scale or percentage, and significance tests ("P-Value").  The Bar Graph and the Line Graph show the same thing.  As the survey form shows, How Do You Rate Your Own Aggressiveness as a Driver (item 9), is measured on a scale from 1 (slight) to 10 (strong).  The vertical for the bar graph shows that  male drivers of sports cars rate themselves near 7 while male drivers of vans rate themselves under 6 -- a highly significant difference as show by the p Value Table.

Similarly with percentages.  For instance if you click on the link below for SWEARING--by Type of Car and Gender, you can see that the Mean for female drivers of sports cars ("sports, F") is 73% (.729 X 100= 72%).  This means that 72% of female van drivers report swearing and cussing on a regular basis.  On the other hand, for male drivers of economy cars ("economy,M") the percentage is 46% (.459X100=46%). This means that 46% of male drivers of economy cars confess to swearing on a regular basis.  In this way you can interpret the other Tables and Graphs.

Songs About Cars

Here is information about the type of cars people reported in this sample

Item 11: Rate your aggressiveness as a driver: 1=slight; 10=strong

AGGRESSIVENESS SELF-RATING--by States

AGGRESSIVENESS SELF-RATING--by Age

AGGRESSIVENESS SELF-RATING--by Gender

AGGRESSIVENESS SELF-RATING--by Type of Car

AGGRESSIVENESS SELF-RATING--by Gender and Type of Car

AGGRESSIVENESS SELF-RATING--by Age and Type of Car

THE AGGRESSIVENESS SYNDROME--What Traits Go Together

Overall, men describe themselves higher on aggressiveness than women:   5.5 for women vs. 6 for men.  This is statistically significant.  In terms of size of the difference, half a scale unit on a 10-point scale amounts to 5% difference (from 5.5 to 6 on a 10-point scale).  This is not a large difference, yet is consistent, and therefore it grows cumulatively.  For example, a 5% reduction in national crash rates (about 5 million per year), would save 2000 lives a year, 250,000 injuries, and 8 billion dollars in annual cost.  Over the lifetime of a driver's career, typically about 60 years, the reduction would cumulate to 120,000 lives saved, one and a half million injuries less, and 480 billion dollars.  All this in the lifetime of one generation of drivers.  So I conclude that the overall lesser aggressiveness of women drivers contribute a tremendous benefit to society.  Thank you women drivers!  This should also be an encouragement for men to reduce their aggressiveness.

APPEARANCE: The STX is a pickup truck, all right - high and handsome. The Ranger got a major restyling a couple of years ago, and has a new grille this year. The corners have been rounded off, the windshield is raked back, and the result is a stylish, aggressive truck. The Super Cab STX has bold, eye-catching graphics for extra flashiness.  From an add to be found here.

 

It's important to discover what are the motives of drivers to maintain an attitude of aggressiveness behind the wheel.  By contrasting the answers given by the sub-groups of the overall sample, we can uncover some of these hidden cultural forces operating within the driver's mind.  This is because each demographic sub-group corresponds to a cultural norm.  Differences in aggressiveness between young drivers and older drivers is a cultural norm about how we change our behavior as we get older.   Differences between men and women drivers constitute a cultural norm about how men and women behave in our society.  For these reasons, contrasting demographic sub-groups of drivers reveals cultural forces in operation in the mind of drivers.

If you inspect the bar plot and line graph for Aggressiveness in relation to the type of car one drives, you are struck by certain obvious contrasts.  In general, or overall, women describe themselves as less aggressive than men describe themselves.  You can say that in general male drivers have a more aggressive self-image behind the wheel.  But this overall tendency is not universal across all the types of cars people drive in this country.  As the graph shows, men who drive family cars see themselves as less aggressive than the women who drive family cars.  Similarly, both the men and the women who drive light trucks (S-10, Pick-up, Ram, Ranger, F-150, Silverado, Dakota, etc.) see themselves as more aggressive than other drivers.

There are additional facts you can see in the Tables and Graphs.  For instance, the most aggressive drivers by their own admission, are men who drive sports cars and SUVs.  Among women drivers, the most aggressive by their own admission are those who drive light trucks and SUVs.  These women see themselves as more aggressive than men who drive family car and economy cars. So you can see the picture is a complex one.  There are  overall tendencies, and special conditions.  Obviously, aggressiveness varies on a continuum so that some drivers do aggressive things more often, and some do more serious and dangerous things than others.   Both frequency and seriousness are thus important factors to consider.  My road rage survey gives information on both of these.  Frequency is shown by ratings of regularity and severity is shown by the item in question (e.g., going over the speed limit vs. chasing someone, or, shining your brights vs. cutting off).

 


DrDriving:   I used to drive a Volvo 240dl station wagon. Cars just don't come safer then that. But when we went to Maui a year ago, we rented a Ford Expedition. Talk about instant power trip! That truck is huge! It puts you so high up, you feel like all other cars and drivers are inferior. I actually said to myself, while driving this monster, "Well, I'm bigger than you so you better get out of my way!" The mentality becomes, "Why should I look out for you? I'm 3 times your size, you look out for me!" Tell me who wouldn't get a power trip and drive more aggressively driving around in Big Foot. I'd really like to meet that person.

Here is a controversial debate about SUVs  |and some opinions by individuals ||  Here's The Sport Utility Vehicle Anti-Fan Club

The least aggressive self-image is held by women who drive vans, while the men who drive vans see themselves as much more aggressive.  Men who drive sports cars and light trucks (S-10, Pick-up, Ram, Ranger, F-150, Silverado, Dakota, etc.) have the most aggressive self-image.

Some pusize="3les are raised by these data.  Why are drivers in Illinois, Michigan, and New York see themselves as so much less aggressive (around 5 on the 10-point scale), while drivers in California and Pennsylvania are highest (over 6)?  If you take a look at the self-ratings for driving excellence (below), you will see that Illinois, Michigan, and New York are the lowest in excellence.  So the drivers in those States that see themselves as least aggressive, also see themselves as least skilled.  Why?  Is there a negative relationship between aggressiveness ratings and excellence ratings?  Look at this correlation matrix.  It demonstrates what I call "the aggressive driver syndrome."  The Table shows what other factors are correlated with aggressiveness self-ratings.  All correlations shown are highly significant statistically, though they are only one of several factors to be considered as shown by the significant but low correlations.

DrDriving:   I agree  that women are becoming more aggressive drivers. I will admit that I'm also an aggressive driver. Over the course of 7 years I've driven 5 different cars in my life time. One car was a small red Mazda Miata and another was a semi-big 4X4 V-6 truck. When I drove the truck I didn't drive as fast but I felt a little tougher. When other cars provoked me to race I would ignore them. However, when I drove the Miata I was a very aggressive driver. I was constantly speeding and weaving through the lanes on the freeway. If another car wanted to race, I would take the challenge. Now I have a small red Honda civic and I could really care less, I just do my own thing.  I'm still aggressive when I drive, but not nearly like I was when I drove the tiny sporty Miata.

If you inspect the correlation matrix you will see that the aggressiveness syndrome is made of the following driver behaviors:

1.     feeling more stress

2.     swearing more often

3.     acting more frequently in a hostile manner

4.     speeding on a regular basis

5.     yelling more at other drivers

6.     honking more at other drivers

7.     making more insulting gestures

8.     tailgating more often

9.     cutting off more often

10.   expressing road rage behavior more often

11.   feeling enraged more often

12.   more often indulging in violent fantasies

13.   feeling more competitive with other drivers

14.   rushing more of the time

15.   more often feeling the desire to drive dangerously

16.   feeling less calm and level headed behind the wheel

These 16 driving behaviors define the aggressive driver syndrome.   They are all significantly intercorrelated.  This means that if you do one of them regularly, you will also do the other 15 on a regular basis.  The fact that aggressive driving behaviors occur together as a syndrome is evidence for my theory that aggressive driving styles are cultural norms we learn from parents, television, and one's natural tendency when unchecked or disciplined.

           

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Definition of Aggressive Driving

"Finding no one speaking out against what he calls the "SUV Scourge," Karolyi launched the Poseur SUV Web site in September 1997. "I tried to create a unique site that makes a point but doesn't take itself too seriously," he says. "I believe this is a great way to communicate ideas." Thousands of visitors agree — the Poseur SUV page receives an approximate 300 hits a day, on average, and Karolyi receives about 100 e-mails each month, mostly in support of his ideas. Although he also gets e-mail from SUV owners, it's not as belligerent as one might suppose. "A lot of poseur SUV owners write praising the page; they enjoy laughing at themselves and at the SUV trend," Karolyi observes.

Interested in more than just poking fun at the SUV trend, Karolyi would like to see the rules of the road reformed to limit the abuses of SUVs. "Most drivers are ill-equipped to drive such a large beast properly," Karolyi remarks. "Drivers of extra-large vehicles such as the Excursion, Expedition, and Suburban, as well as other large vehicles such as motor homes, should be required to get some kind of 'Large Vehicle Endorsement' on their drivers license. This should involve taking a course on large vehicle operation and safety, and passing a driving test. I think this requirement would serve the dual purpose of deterring buyers who don't really need large vehicles, as well as properly training those who do."

Original continues here

Item 10:   Rate yourself as a driver  1=slight; 10=excellent

EXCELLENCE AS A DRIVER SELF-RATING--by States

EXCELLENCE AS A DRIVER SELF-RATING--by Age

EXCELLENCE AS A DRIVER SELF-RATING--by Gender

EXCELLENCE AS A DRIVER SELF-RATING--by Type of Car

EXCELLENCE AS A DRIVER SELF-RATING--by Type of Car and Gender

EXCELLENCE AS A DRIVER SELF-RATING--Type of Car and Age

One of the discoveries I made by studying drivers for many years is that they like to underestimate their errors and overestimate their skills.  In this sample, people rated themselves as a driver on a 10-point scale, from (1) poor to (10) excellent.  Men rate themselves close to 8 while women rate themselves close to 7.   This is is significant and substantial, but the interpretation is not entirely clear.  It's possible that men are better drivers than women, but not necessarily.   It could be that men underestimate their errors, while women are more realistic or honest.  What's interesting when you look at the graph, is that this gender difference is replicated across the 10 states for which I had enough respondents to attain reliability.

When you look at the men only from these 10 States, you can see that they vary in excellence ratings of themselves.  California and Colorado drivers see themselves as better than drivers from the other 8 States, especially Georgia and Michigan.   It would be hard to explain these differences without further research.  If you have ideas, let me know--there is an e-mail button at the bottom of this document.   When you look at women only, Florida women drivers see themselves as good as Florida men drivers, but women drivers in Illinois and New York see themselves as much lower than men drivers when it comes to self-ratings of oneself as a driver.

Let's look more deeply into the driver's self-assessment.  Look at the distribution of how drivers rate themselves on a 10-point scale of Excellence as a Driver:

pe2.jpg (14129 bytes)pe3.jpg (11865 bytes)

As you can see, approximately 2 out of 3 drivers consider themselves almost perfect (10 or 9) in excellence as a driver (64%), while 1 in 3 (34%) consider themselves above average (5 to 8).  This indicates to me that most drivers overlook their own mistakes and overestimate their competence.  One way to examine this hypothesis is to compare the aggressiveness of the two-thirds majority of drivers who see themselves as near perfect (9 or 10 on a 10-point scale) with the one-third minority that see themselves above average and with room to improve.  Here is what that looks like:  self-rated Aggressiveness in relation to self-rated Excellence as a Driver

pe3.jpg (15147 bytes)

You can see the dramatic effect!  The drivers who consider themselves near perfect in excellence with no room to improve (9 or 10 on a 10-point scale), also confess to significantly more aggressiveness than drivers who see themselves still improving (5 or 8 on a 10-point scale).  This is an alarming result, for it shows the total lack of objectivity shown by two out of three drivers.  Despite their self-confessed aggressiveness, they still insist on seeing themselves as near perfect drivers with almost no room to improve.  This same phenomenon can be seen with specific forms of aggressive behaviors.

For example, if we ask the question, Who does more hostile chasing with the car, those who assess themselves as near perfect, or those who assess themselves as plenty room to improve?   Look at the answer in the statistics for CHASING in relation to self-rated Excellence:

pe4.jpg (14401 bytes)

As you can see, the phenomenon is even more marked here:  those who see themselves as near perfect drivers (9 or 10 on a 10-point scale), admit to twice as much chasing of another car compared to those (5 or 8 on a 10-point scale) who see themselves as less perfect (15% vs. 8%).  The fact is clear:  part of being an aggressive driver is to deny that you're aggressive!

This conclusion may be evidenced by this:   the correlation between aggressiveness scores and excellence scores is .13, not significant.  In other words, there is no relation between drivers seeing themselves as aggressive and seeing themselves as excellent.  This amazing discovery is clearly shown further in this bi-variate plot shwoing the lack of relationship between the debree of self-rated Aggressiveness and the degree of self-rated Excellence as a Driver:

pe2.jpg (16099 bytes)""357

Note that drivers who see themselves as perfect (top 2 rows) vary with each other on whether they also see themselves as aggressive.  If you think of yourself as an excellent driver, you can also think of yourself as either an aggressive driver or not.  There is no relationship.  To me, this is astounding because it demonstrates people's denial that aggressive driving is bad driving!  And what is it that we're talking about as aggressive driving?  Look at the other items on the survey:  tailgating, yelling and honking at other drivers, speeding, running red lights, having fantasies of violence, illegal turns, lane hopping, and so on.  So we're not talking about nothing or some mental attitude alone.  These drivers do not see a connection, so they say, between these bad driving behaviors they confess they do, and how excellent a driver they can claim to be (and still be believable??).

Clearly, we're going to need more than aggressive driving legislation and aggressive law enforcement initiatives to fight aggressive driving that kills thousands a year, injures millions, and costs billions.  This does not take into account the human pain and suffering to victims and families, the recovery efforts needed for a long time, and perhaps most importantly, the moral degradation of highway hostility and warfare.  As a nation we pay a toll for turning on one another on highways and parking lots and shopping malls and surfing lanes.  We give away our civility and give in to hostility.  We feel disconnected from one another to the point of wanting to degrade, insult, and injure one another in hatred and vengeance (1,200 recorded death duels last year between drivers on highways).

The first step in any self-retraining effort is to acknowledge our problem, our inadequate performance.   This acknowledgment creates the motivation to change.  No change is possible without motivation.  No such motivation to change exists without the acknowledgment that improvement is called for.  This is where more education can bring about greater understanding and awareness of the aggressive driving problem.

Aggressive driving, in my opinion, is a behavioral addiction.  It will behave like an addiction.   We want to do it more and more, and, we feel incapable of stopping ourselves when we try.  This is what aggressive driving is like.  Before we make the acknowledgment step, we are incapable of driving in a supportive way except when there is a threatening authority present (cop car, driving inspector, insurance agent, rich grandmother or benefactor).  But when we feel free, we drive according to the addictive habit--aggressively pushing our progress forward, tailgating, lane hopping, speeding, jerking the car around, driving though red, rolling down the window and screaming, cutting off to make our hurt ego feel better, and many other insanities that cost lives, money, and unitedness as a nation.

E-mail DrDriving

Item 20:  Swearing, cussing, and name calling

SWEARING--by States

SWEARING--by Age

SWEARING--by Gender

SWEARING--by Type of Car

SWEARING--by Type of Car and Gender

SWEARING--by Type of Car and Age

Swearing at other drivers is a serious offense in England for which you can go to jail for 2 years, and more and more State Legislatures are passing similar laws--see my review here.  Why do people swear?   The respondents in this sample gave hundreds of different explanations when asked to comment on why drivers get angry with each other.  You can see many of them here.  But people's reasons why they get angry may not be accurate.  The fact is people are not good at understanding why they get angry.   You may check out the anger theory I describe in my congressional testimony here.

What about women drivers?  Is there a norm of hostility for both genders?  The surprising result can be seen here.   What's this?  Women out-swear and out-cuss drivers behind the wheel?   Yes, indeed:  65% vs. 58% (a highly significant difference statistically). To me this indicates that the driver  aggressiveness norm is now growing among women, though not in the same areas as it is growing for men.  Of course, this is what you would expect if driving is a cultural norm since norms vary for men and women in our society on many behavioral items.

But there are specific differences from State to State.  Women drivers in Florida swear and cuss and call names more often (85%) than men or women in the other States.  Why?  In general men drivers do more yelling and cussing than women, but not everywhere.  In Michigan only 40% of the men drivers claim to swear and cuss and insult other drivers, while 55% of Michigan women drivers do so.  The State of Ohio also shows a reversal, where women drivers claim they yell more than men (55% vs. 40%).

There are large differences in driver swearing behavior when you compare age groups.  Young drivers (15 to 24) swear the most (66% do it), but as they get older (25 to 54), they tend to reduce somewhat (60%), and finally, when they enter the senior category of driver (55 to 94 -- in this sample), they greatly reduce their swearing (42%).  Still, these data show that swearing is a cultural driving norm related to age, and a strong one.  Six out of ten young drivers swear and cuss at other drivers, and 4 out of 10 senior drivers do so.   Obviously, we need to examine this lack of civility between drivers--see this interesting article in the Seattle Times relating aggressive driving to Washington's Rules of Civility.

What about swearing/cussing and type of car one drives?  As you can see here the answer is Yes indeed.  By their own admission, drivers of sports cars and light trucks (S-10, Pick-up, Ram, Ranger, F-150, Silverado, Dakota, etc.) swear the most (67% or two out of three drivers).  Drivers of economy cars and vans swear the least (about 52% or one out of two).  Yes, we are a nation of highway swearing and cussing at one another.  It might be dubbed the Dangerfield Phenomenon since comedian Rodney Dangerfield is known for saying that there "ain't no respect anymore."  This is now true for the highway community, or lack of it.

DrDriving:  Drivers who own SUV's are risk takers and would want to live the fast life. Owning a SUV is a lot of money; insurance wise. By owning a SUV, the driver knows the power of the vehicle on the road which is one of the main reasons they purchased a SUV. I think everyone wants or would want a SUV because of the way society classifies SUV as powerful and dominating vehicle. Friends of mine who own SUV's are much more aggressive on the road as compared to drivers who are behind the wheel of a family vehicle. I think that we as a society classify and define vehicles to the extent that we make a difference to peoples' decision on how to drive on the road.
SUV vs. a Miata Cartoon here

Let's look at this from another angle:  Do women drivers of certain types of cars swear and cuss more than some others?  As you can see here, The answer is that women swear and cuss more than men no matter what car they drive--with one exception:  women who drive vans swear and cuss less than other women or men (33%), but this may not be a stable result since there were only 18 women in this sub-group.  So the answer remains:   women swear and cuss at other drivers more than men regardless of the type of car they drive.  Men on the other hand vary in their swearing, depending on the type of car they drive.  Men in their sports cars, SUVs, and light trucks swear more (60% plus) than men who drive economy and family cars (about 50% of them swear).

What about a relation between type of car and age, in relation to swearing?  Here you can see that senior drivers of SUVs swear and cuss as much as young drivers of SUVs.  Young female drivers of sports cars swear the most (79%), more than all males and females.  Senior drivers swear the least, but those who drive light trucks (60%) and SUVs (80%) swear a lot more.

Clearly, cultural factors like age, gender, geographic State, and type of car driven all influence the amount of incivility on the road today.

 

Item 22:  Breaking the Speed Limit by 15 to 25 mph

SPEEDING--by States

SPEEDING--by Age

SPEEDING--by Gender

SPEEDING--by Type of Car

SPEEDING--by Type of Car and Gender

SPEEDING--by Type of Car and Age

 

Speeding is a highly controversial issue, with citizen activism on both sides, those who support an increase in law enforcement activities against speeding such as CASAD, and those who oppose it because they don't believe that speeding causes accidents, but rather those who go too slow (see for instance the Speedtrap Registry).  The overall level of speeding, as perceived by the drivers themselves, is massive.  Half of the drivers admit to speeding regularly, and this may be an underestimation.  And yet because speeding is a cultural norm, the extent of speeding varies with demographic differences.

The basic cultural facts about speeding are clear when you look at age differencesgender differences, and across various states, according to the drivers' own admissions.  We start out speeding as young drivers (52% own up to it), then more and more of us reduce that behavior:  modestly at first (41% for drivers aged 25 to 54), then quite substantially:  19% for the senior group (55+).   Note that even at the senior driver level, 1 in 5 still wants to break the speed limit up to 25 mph above the legal level!  This is going to be a very difficult problem to solve in our highway society.  Women drivers overall speed less than men overall (41% to 46%).  While this is statistically significant the rates are clearly high for both.  Differences across selected States vary tremendously.  The leading States in serious speeding are Colorado (66% or two out every three drivers there), Georgia (54% or one in two admit to regular speeding), Pennsylvania (51%) and Texas (47%).   States with the least self-reported speeding are California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New York, and Ohio--all with self-reported speeding ranging from 30% to 40%.

It would be interesting to compare speeding data from law enforcement in these states and self-reported speeding--these being two different sets of data.  I predict that they will be highly correlated.

By State, those who speed the most according to their own admission, are Colorado drivers, both male and female (each over 60%), and female drivers in Georgia (65%).  Women drivers in Michigan and in California report the lowest incidence of serious speeding (around 20%).

Now look at the figures on speeding when arranged by type of car.  Who are the greatest speeders of all?  Male drivers of sports cars (60%) outspeed everyone else, followed by male truck drivers (45%) and SUV drivers, both male and female equally (also about 45%).  Who are the least of the speeders?  Drivers of vans, both males (30%) and females (10%).  The latter are the lowest!

Note that it's not the car by itself that determines the tendency to speed, but how the car is perceived, or who is attracted to that kind of car.  Among sports car drivers, the majority of males do some serious speeding (60%), but when these cars are driven by women, it does not lead them to speed more than women drivers of other cars.  You can see the details in the Tables.  The fact that speeding is also a cultural norm comes as no surprise.  While TV commercials for cars do not directly encourage speeding, they do so indirectly--see the evidence my students have gathered here.  It's clear that drivers of sports cars and SUVs are more attracted to serious speeding as a group, though it is by no means universal.   In fact if 45% of SUV drivers report serious speeding, then it's also correct to say that "the majority of SUV drivers do not report heavy speeding."   However, speaking relatively, that is, in comparison to other drivers, it is the case that SUV and sports car drivers are highest, significantly, in self-reported speeding.

Item 16:  Lane hopping without signaling

NOT SIGNALING--by States

NOT SIGNALING--by Age

NOT SIGNALING--by Gender

NOT SIGNALING--by Type of Car

NOT SIGNALING--by Type of Car and Gender

NOT SIGNALING--by Type of Car and Age

Lane hopping without signaling is both dangerous and aggressive.  It's a bad habit that indicates the driver's willingness to take risks at the expense of others.  It adds both hostility and stress to the highway environment.  The self-confessed leaders of lane hoppers among the select States is Texas with 40%.  Almost every other driver in Texas doesn't bother to signal lane changes on a regular basis.  The least guilty on this dangerous practice are the drivers in Georgia (22%) and Ohio (24%).  The other States fall in between, for instance California at 32%.  Note that these percentages are probably underestimating the actual occurrence of this aggressive driving habit since I discovered in my research that many drivers are unaware of their driving errors.

Gender differences in lane hopping without signaling are non-existent apparently, both reporting themselves at the rate of 28%, or about one in four drivers--who admit doing it regularly.  Age differences are much more dramatic with significant substantial differences:  the young drivers 15 to 24 report themselves at 36% or one in three; the middle age group (25 to 54) report themselves as 23% or one in four; and the senior group (55-94) considerably lower at 13%.  As you can see from the results of this sample in relation to all the items, the senior drivers consistently come out as least aggressive and committing the least amount of driving infractions.  Thus, age makes us wise!!

Now let's look at the differences in illegal lane hoping across the drivers of different types of vehicles.  As you can see, the most aggressive drivers are, consistently, the drivers of sports cars, SUVs, and light trucks (S-10, Pick-up, Ram, Ranger, F-150, Silverado, Dakota, etc.) (about 34% each or one in three of them).  The other drivers are significantly lower:  for vans (17%) and economy cars (26%).  In general, one in three drivers admit to illegal and dangerous lane hopping on a regular basis.  No wonder we have a high rate of smashing into one another on streets and highways--about 5 million last year (for more similar facts, see my collection here).

Now we look at interaction effects: are differences between men and women who drive the same type of car?  As you can see, there are complex statistical relations reflecting cultural differences between men and women and how they relate to cars, roads, and driving.  While you can explore these relations for yourself, I would summarize the results this way:  In the "tough" category of cars--Sports, SUVs, light trucks (S-10, Pick-up, Ram, Ranger, F-150, Silverado, Dakota, etc.)--both men and women confess to high rates of lane changes without signaling though it is required by law (about 35% or one in three drivers of these vehicles).  In the "soft" category of cars--Economy, Family, Luxury--men and women are also comparable at around 25% or one in four drivers.  In the "special" category of cars--Vans in this survey--the men drivers report the lowest rate of swearing (10%).

Do drivers of different age groups vary in their lane hopping behavior, depending on the type of car they drive?  The answer is Yes, as usual:  Regardless of the type of car they drive, young people outdo older people in illegal lane switching.   There is a high cost for this recklessness since crash fatalities are one of the main causes of death for this age group.  The tragedy of it is compounded by the fact that our culture raises these youngsters by providing them with an ideology of driving aggressiveness and hostility as portrayed in the public media--see my report here.  The good news is that cultural habits can be retrained by a new cultural focus as I argue in my congressional testimony, namely, Lifelong Driver's Ed from K through 12 and after that, Quality Driving Circles or QDCs that are neighborhood-based or related to the workplace.

 

Opinions by real people...

SUV's Getting Out of Hand

Re:  Car owners should file a class action lawsuit against SUV makers
for excessive damaged SUVs caused on cars
Author: D<@nopspam.com>
Date: 1999/03/05
Forum:  rec.autos.makers.ford

Recently the goverment NHTSA released video tapes show extensive damages
caused by SUVs on car in collisons. Because SUVs are biger than cars,
most of SUV drivers are reckless, irresponsible, and bully on the
highway. Driving an SUV by an agressive driver is equivalent to carrying
a AK 47 assaut rifle or a bazoka on the street. There are a significant
increases
in death and excessive damages caused by the increase of SUVs

on the streets and highway. SUV makers knew the danger and the damages
caused by collisions with SUVs but they ignored the facts and are
selling more and bigger SUVs for the bucks.

The City of Chicago is sueing gun manufacturers for the gun crimes in
Chicago. Many States have sued the Tobacco industry for the sales of
cigarettes.

It is time for victims of traffic death and exessive damages caused by
SUVs to file a law suit against SUV makers for their irresponsible sales
of SUVs and for unsafe automobile on the streets. Let's start a class
action suit.

Author: Ho <ho@primenet.com>
Date: 1999/03/05
Forum: rec.autos.makers.ford

Not another one...ugh.

People drive SUVs, SUVs don't drive themselves.  Take away the SUV and the
dangerous driver will just find some other vehicle to use as a "weapon".

How about we sue people's parents or the hospital they were born in for
bringing these stupid/aggressive/dangerous people into the world in the
first place.  That's about in line with what you suggest...

You're going after the puppet, not the person pulling the strings.
They'll get another puppet of a different kind.

An SUV without a driver is not dangerous, right?  Touching it while parked
or driving by it won't kill/hurt you, will it?  So lets see...you put
someone behind the wheel and it becomes a weapon yet the driver is not the
person at fault.

I fail to see your logic.  Explain?

-- Hogan Whittall

Author: t <tj@my-dejanews.com>
Date: 1999/03/05
Forum: rec.autos.makers.ford

I'm sorry, but this is the biggest load of crap I have heard in a while.
Yes, if a small car hits, or is hit by a bigger vehicle it will sustain more
damage.  That is basic physics.  Get over it.  Ever see what happens to a car
hit by an 18 wheelerIts not pretty.  How about a bus, or a dump truck, or
a street sweeper.  Hey, how about a beefy pickup truck?  Forget about cars,
hitting a tree is a losing battle too, or large boulders, or even Deer or
Moose.  You know what, all of those vehicles are much bigger than a Honda
Civic, and the Honda will lose the battle in a collision with ANY of them,
not just SUV's.  Did you ever notice how many 18 wheelers are on the road?
Should we file a suit against them, I wouldn't want to be hit by one!  Let's
get real.  To make the gross generalization that SUV drivers are wreckless is
an irresponsible statement in itself.  I have never been in an accident
driving an SUV.

While driving a Toyota Corrolla hatchback, a 15 foot tall
dump truck drove right over my front end (he did not see my little car down
there) and he did not even feel it.  People walking along the sidewalk had to
wave at him to get him to stop and realize he just drove right over the hood
of my car.  I never considered filing a law suit against dump truck
manufacturers because they are too big!  Sh*t like that happens sometimes.
Drive safely, no matter what car you drive, and everyone will be fine.  There
will ALWAYS be accidents on the roads and there will always be fatalities.
That's the way it is. SUV's, and their drivers are not the cause of the
problem.

Do you propose that all car manufacturers must make all cars the same size
just to protect the little cars?  How about separate roads depending on car
size? That's a good idea.  What about the older cars on the road, like a 1964
Chrysler Newport?  Those cars are big, and solid.  You wouldn't want to hit
one of those either.

I wish everyone would stop blaming the fragility of the world on other people.
I'm sorry, but you will not always be safe in life.  Take your own precautions
to be safe, don't rely on others to do it all for you!

Rooster

Author:  jh <jh@home.com>
Date: 1999/03/05
Forum: rec.autos.makers.ford

i'm glad i just bought a bigger truck.maybe now i can crush your dumb
ass when i hit you.why don't you mind your own business.your argument is
stupid and does not make any since at all.what is the difference of what
car you get  hit by?you could be just as dead if i hit you with my
mother in-laws bonniville doing 70  as with my truck. its not the trucks
fault its the drivers.same with a car.


  so a car can't wreck into a suv and kill somebody?run it off the
road?and there is never car to car wrecks that kill is there.their are
just plain ass bad drivers out there,they piss me off too and that is
the problem.not the vehicles .why are you trying to blame suv's for
reckless driving?


  its dumb ass's like you who try to make a stink over stupid shit that
end up making laws that end up hurting everybody and costing everybody
more money.let me guess,your pro life,against owning a gun,against fur
and were out picking ford for not being y2k compliant.
what some advice,get a hobby

 

Emotions, Anger, Mastery, Compassion

Seeing Red, Feeling Blue and other books and articles about emotions

Item 18: Driving through red lights

           

oogle

       

 

 

 



 

DRIVING THROUGH RED--by States

DRIVING THROUGH RED--by Age

DRIVING THROUGH RED--by Gender

DRIVING THROUGH RED--by Type of Car

DRIVING THROUGH RED--by Type of Car and Gender

DRIVING THROUGH RED--by Type of Car and Age

Driving through red lights is type of aggressive driving that has become a huge problem in many cities, according to newspaper accounts in 1988.  For example, in Philadelphia one in five drivers on the streets on any day will run red lights creating a daily hazard with hundreds of drivers running red lights all over the city.  What mayhem!!  Let's see if we can get some insight on this alarming phenomenon through comparing the cultural sub-groups in this sample.

Starting with States, you can see that they differ dramatically in the percentage of self-declared red lights runners, ranging from a high of 25% for Colorado drivers and a low of 5% for Ohio drivers.  Georgia and Florida drivers also shun this awful practice (6%) while Texas drivers are in between at 15%.

More insight can be gained if we inspect the results to see how the three age groups are responding.  What do you see, surprise of surprises?  For Young, Middle, and Senior groups the percentages are 16%, 6%, and 2% respectively.  By now this is a familiar pattern if you have read what precedes.  Now a crucial question:   What about the genders?  The answer is as unexpected:  the women do more red light running than the men:  12% to 9%.  One might say that a 3% difference, even if reliable statistically, may not amount to very much.  Well, let's see.   A 3% national reduction in crash fatalities over the life career of one generation of drivers, or about 60 years, would mean saving 72,000 lives!!  (I used this formula:  40,000 deaths per yearX60yearsX.03=72,000)

Does type of car have anything to do with driving through red?  The answer is a big YES.  As I indicated above there is a cultural meaning attached to cars and therefore different type of drivers are attracted to different types of cars.   What I have discovered from this survey is that there appears to be three types of vehicles from this cultural perspective:  tough, soft, and special.  Tough driving is associated with sports cars, SUVs, and light trucks (S-10, Pick-up, Ram, Ranger, F-150, Silverado, Dakota, etc.).  Soft driving is associated with economy and family cars.  Special driving is associated with vans.  One category is left over:  luxury cars--I'm not sure where to place them since their drivers seem to vacillate in terms of aggressive indicators.  You can follow up on this issue by comparing luxury car drivers to the others on each of the survey items.

The pattern repeats itself with running red lights:  Drivers of sports cars and  SUV drivers are the most aggressive and risky:  about 16%, which is double that of  economy and family cars (about 8%).  Truck drivers also have a relatively low incidence of self-reported red light running (9%), but drivers of vans, once more, are the safest of all (0%--never running red lights).  What about luxury car drivers?  13% is their own admission--relatively high.

We can further insight into this cultural dynamic of running red lights by looking at the interaction between type of car and gender or age.  For gender, you can see that it makes a big difference what type of car is driven.  Women who drive luxury cars and SUVs report twice as much red light running as the men who drive those cars:  21% vs. 11%.  This is very strong evidence that aggressive  behavior for women drivers is related to the type of car they drive.  Overall women are less aggressive than men, but not when they drive SUVs and luxury cars.  Note also that there is a complicating factor:  not all aggressive behaviors go together.   There is a tendency for them to be a syndrome, as I explained above, but there is lots of wiggle room, so that large proportions of the population don't fit any one particular pattern of aggressive behavior.  In the case of  red light running, it is clear that women report this problem more frequently than men, and the gap gets bigger with "tough" cars like SUVs and sports cars.

 

Item 27:  Tailgating Dangerously

TAILGATING DANGEROUSLY--by States

TAILGATING DANGEROUSLY--by Age

TAILGATING DANGEROUSLY--by Gender

TAILGATING DANGEROUSLY--by Type of Car

TAILGATING DANGEROUSLY--by Type of Car and Gender

TAILGATING DANGEROUSLY--by Type of Car and Age

The results for the 10 states in this sample for which I had enough respondents to make statistical comparisons, show the worst five States with a mean of 21% dangerous tailgating:  Colorado (25%), Georgia (20%), Pennsylvania (20%), Michigan (19%), Texas (19%).  The lowest tailgating States are:  Illinois (8%), New York (10%), Florida (14%), Ohio (15%), California (18%).

There are as you might expect, age differences as well as gender differences.   Among young drivers,  19% admit to tailgating dangerously, which is about one in five.  This is more than middle aged drivers (15%) and senior drivers (6%).   This age pattern recurs in many aggressive driving behaviors:  as we get older, we drive less aggressively.  Women admit to as much tailgating as men (15%), in general, but once again there are significant influences attributable to the type of car they drive, as show in this table:

TAILGATING

family/economy cars
(error rate=3%)

sports cars
(error rate=5%)

SUVs
(error rate=5%)

Male drivers

13%

23%

18%

Female drivers

13%

20%

25%

You can see that those drive the "soft" cars (family and economy) tailgate less than those who drive the "hard" cars (sports and SUV) with a ratio of two to one.  This holds true for both men and women.  However, with SUV drivers we see a reversal between the genders:  more female SUV drivers tailgate dangerously, by their own admission, than male drivers of SUVs.

Now take a look at the results for type of car and age:

TAILGATING

family cars
(error rate=3%)

sports cars
(error rate=5%)

SUVs
(error rate=6%)

Young drivers
(15 to 24)

9%

28%

21%

Middle aged drivers
(25 to 54)

13%

13%

23%

 

The pattern of results revealed in this Table point to the cultural influences related to car society--parental influence and marketing symbolism.  Young drivers of family cars tailgate less than their parental group who drive the same cars (9% vs. 13%).  But young drivers of  sports cars tailgate more than their parental group (28% vs. 13%).  Young drivers of SUVs tailgate equally with their parental group (21% vs. 23%--not enough to be significantly different or reliable). As you can see for yourself from the Graphs and Tables, the results for economy cars are comparable to the results with family cars, while the results with light trucks (S-10, Pick-up, Ram, Ranger, F-150, Silverado, Dakota, etc.) are comparable to the results with sports cars.

My interpretation of these patterns is that parents of SUVs transmit their dangerous tailgating practices to their children, while parents of sports cars do not.  Parents of family cars have a positive influence on their children so that the children tailgate less than the parents.  Note however, that  other interpretations of these results are possible.  The pusize="3le will be clearer when I get to the analysis of the survey dealing with remembered parental behavior behind the wheel.  One aspect of aggressive driving is becoming more and more clear from these results:  type of car is a major influence on how aggressive the driver gets.   If you look at the graphs and tables for Type of Car and Tailgating, you see the familiar pattern:  tough driving cars like sports, light trucks, and SUVs elicit dangerous and aggressive tailgating to the tune of one in five drivers (20% and more); soft driving cars like economy and family cars elicit significantly less dangerous tailgating (11% and 16%); special driving cars tend to have their own peculiar pattern with vans always low on aggressiveness (6% for tailgating) and luxury cars in between tough and soft (13%).   These patterns recur with many aggressive driving items, thus pointing to a cultural syndrome, norm, or habit.

Songs About Cars

Item 40:  Enjoying fantasies of violence

ENJOYING FANTASIES OF VIOLENCE--by States

ENJOYING FANTASIES OF VIOLENCE--by Age

ENJOYING FANTASIES OF VIOLENCE--by Gender

ENJOYING FANTASIES OF VIOLENCE--by Type of Car

ENJOYING FANTASIES OF VIOLENCE--by Type of Car and Gender

ENJOYING FANTASIES OF VIOLENCE--by Type of Car and Age

ENJOYING FANTASIES OF VIOLENCE--by Model of Car

 

Beginning our inquiry of Enjoying Fantasies of Violence with States, you can see that the differences are small yet noticeable.  Less frequent reports by drivers in Florida, New York, and Pennsylvania (ranging 2.1 to 2.5 on the 10-point scale), and more frequent occurrences by drivers in Ohio, Texas, and Colorado (ranging from 3.3 to 3.0).  Why should people enjoy fantasies of violence??   Note that this is different from "having" fantasies of violence--which is a natural occurrence in situations where we're competing strenuously with others.   But this item has to do with "enjoying" these fantasies.  I think that this aspect goes beyond having the fantasies, and carrying them one dangerous step further.  The healthy thing to do when you have fantasies of violence against other drivers is to immediately stop them dead in their track, or else they may stop you dead!   If drivers don't oppose these fantasies, they are putting themselves at risk for "losing it" as they say, that is, getting into a road rage incident.

Let's explore this sensitive and personal aspect of aggressive driving.  If you look at the graphs and tables for age differences, you find a significant difference between the three groups:  Young (3.1), Middle aged (2.7), and Senior (2.5).  As drivers get older, they reduce this trait more and more.  The big drop occurs as we move out of the teenage and young adult stage and settle into middle age.  then another drop as age brings us further wisdom as seniors.  Nevertheless, even in this calmer stage of individual development, our senior years as drivers still involves this mental pathology--the enjoyment of disfiguring or mutilating or physically torturing other drivers.  I was one of the first traffic psychologist to detect this phenomenon and bring it to the attention of the public--see my 1987 article on violence and mental health.

Since virtually all people in this country are affiliated to the three main religions of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, it is remarkable that so many drivers tolerate themselves to enjoy violent fantasies behind the wheel.  Of course we need more research that involves self-witnessing behind the wheel while the aggressive behavior occurs, rather than later relying on one's memory, as was done in this survey.  For years I have carried a tape recorder in my car speaking my thoughts out loud and later analyzing the tape.  Many of my students have as well.  It's remarkable what you get to find out about yourself!!  I recommend this technique in my Threestep Program for self-modification as a driver.

Gender differences are significant and huge:  2.1 for women drivers vs. 3.6 for men.  While women behind the wheel occasionally enjoy fantasies of violence, the men do it with a vengeance!!  This is alarming to me.  In 1987 I predicted that violence by drivers will increase unless we give them the skills to manage their anger behind the wheel.  Road rage is on the increase--everyone knows it by now in January of 1999.  Aggressive driving laws are being passed by more and more legislators (see my review here).  But in my congressional testimony last year, I argue that while effective law enforcement is a must, it cannot answer the basic problem, only re-training:   driver's ed K through 12 and after that QDCs (Quality Driving Circles).

We also need more parental involvement in a positive way.  Currently the parental influence on children is negative.  We expose our children to years of aggressive driving attitudes as they ride in our cars.  Then, as they get behind the wheel, they act like their parents, or worse.  We start our driver education as infants riding in cars.  We pick up attitudes and feelings and orientations--all non-verbally, by osmosis.  Later, we do it verbally as well.  We imitate and practice these attitudes on streets, in parking lots, in shopping centers.  So we need to teach children about civility, human rights, and compassion in public places where we share space.  Attitudes towards others' rights and respect for authority should be taught in elementary school (this is called Affective Driver Ed).  Then in intermediate school, children should be taught how to reason about traffic and pedestrian behavior and events (this is called Cognitive Driver Ed).  Finally in high school, teenagers would get hands on driving instruction (this is called sensorimotor Driver Ed).  Beyond that, each individual would be enrolled in a QDC of their choice, either neighborhood, church, or workplace.  This plan would take care of Lifelong Driver Ed and would transform our killing highways into a highway community in one generation.  I have written a video course that focuses on the this social responsibility of drivers--available here.

           

oogle

       

 

 

 



 

Socio-Cultural Methods of
Managing Driving Behavior in a Society

Driving Psychology is a new field of knowledge that brings together all that we need to know to manage the driving behavior of millions:   transportation, safety, psychology, education, communication, testing, civic activism, law enforcement and legislation.

Now, getting back to enjoying fantasies of violence, it  would be very telling if drivers of some type of cars enjoyed violent fantasies more than drivers of other cars.  Let's look at the graphs and tables.  Yes, indeed, there is a highly significant difference between types of cars and how often their drivers enjoy violent fantasies about other drivers.  In the low category (2.3 on the 10-point scale) we have vans and family cars.  In the mid category we have SUVs, luxury cars, and economy cars (2.7 to 3.0).  In the heavy violence category we have sports cars and light trucks (S-10, Pick-up, Ram, Ranger, F-150, Silverado, Dakota, etc.) (3.5 and 3.7).

There is a dramatic interaction effect between type of car and gender in relation to enjoying fantasies of violence, as you can see in the associated graphs and tables.   I can summarize it in this table:

TYPE OF CAR and GENDER in relation to
ENJOYING VIOLENT FANTASIES

Type of Car

Male drivers

Female drivers

family

2.7

1.9

vans

2.8

1.8

luxury

3.1

2.8

light trucks

3.9

2.8

economy

4.0

2.1

sports

4.1

2.5

You can easily the pattern:  male drivers continue to increase their enjoyment of violent fantasies as they switch type of cars from family to sports, while women drivers do the same thing but at a lower pace.  I was able to look into this further, by contrasting drivers of different Models, since type of car as well as model have symbolic significance and may attract different cultural elements of car society.  I was able to find 7 models of cars for which I had a statistically reliable sample, more or less.   Let's consider these results tentative as predictive of what might happen in future samples.  Look at the this table copied from the main graphs and tables for model and fantasies:

pe1.jpg (12462 bytes)""318

There are significant and substantial differences in these sub-groups, despite their small size.  Sure enough, drivers of S-10 (Chevrolet Truck/Utility) go for this pathological enjoyment double and triple of the other drivers!  If you look at  gender differences within each of these models, fewer women enjoy violent fantasies than the men who drive these models, with one big exception:  drivers of S-10--the women enjoy violent fantasies more than the men who drive these light trucks (S-10, Pick-up, Ram, Ranger, F-150, Silverado, Dakota, etc.).  But remember:  these are only trends or hypotheses as the samples were too small.  Let's wait for future samples on this one.

Dec. 16, 2000

Pickup truck rollovers continue despite safety upgrades

At a glance:

Fatal crash statistics show the combined death rate for 2-wheel-drive and 4-wheel-drive pickups was higher than any other vehicle on America's roads in 1999. The following numbers show how many people were killed per 1 million passenger vehicles:

138 people were killed in cars.

177 people were killed in 2-wheel-drive pickups and 152 were killed in 4-wheel-drive pickups.

184 were killed in 2-wheel-drive sport utility vehicles and 122 were killed in 4-wheel-drive sport utilities.

Source: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in Arlington, Va.

By Tony Manolatos FLORIDA TODAY

They are built tough, which is why millions of people love pickup trucks. The vehicles seem to blend in anywhere - in the backwater or at the opera - which has meant happy motorists and even happier automakers.

But there is a grim downside.

Even though pickups hold up better than cars in multi-vehicle crashes, the death rate in pickups is higher than any other passenger vehicle on America's roads, and rollover crashes continue to be a problem despite safety upgrades, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in Arlington, Va., a nonprofit agency funded by automobile insurance companies to encourage safety.

After pickups, sport utility vehicles are involved in the most deaths nationwide. Both are involved in high amounts of single-vehicle rollover deaths.

Single-vehicle rollover crashes accounted for 51 percent of occupant deaths in sport utilities, compared with 36 percent of deaths in pickups and 19 percent of deaths in cars in 1999.

Pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles are part of the growing problems on Interstate 95 in Florida, according to a Florida Today analysis, published Dec. 3, which examined state crash records from the Florida Highway Patrol.

(...)

Single out-of-control autos accounted for the most fatal wrecks on I-95 in Florida and in Brevard during the newspaper's analysis. But the fear among safety experts is that pickup drivers, who are responsible for the highest death rate nationwide among all passenger vehicles and continue to increase in number, are potentially more dangerous to themselves and other motorists because they are often young, aggressive drivers.

"A pickup driver is generally more of a risk taker," said Yoli Buss, director of traffic safety for AAA Auto Club South in Tampa, a not-for-profit automotive safety and service provider. "It's a younger, male driver for the most part, (although) females are not far behind."

Younger drivers between the ages of 20 and 24 are involved in the most fatal wrecks on all roads, according to federal government crash statistics.

"And a large percentage of those are pickup drivers," Buss said Friday.

Even with fatal crashes occurring frequently, buyers are flocking to pickups in growing numbers with 1 in 5 vehicles sold in the United States being a pickup.

(...)

As for the high death rate involving pickups, Pipas said he was "a little confused by the statistics because people who are in pickup trucks generally are safer in accidents involving collision."

original here

Item 42:  Feeling compassion for another driver

FEELING COMPASSION--by States

FEELING COMPASSION--by Age and Gender

FEELING COMPASSION--by Type of Car

FEELING COMPASSION--by Type of Car and Gender

FEELING COMPASSION--by Type of Car and Age

There is a significant difference between the 10 sample states.  Drivers feeling compassion more regularly are in Colorado (6.0), Texas (5.5), Georgia (5.4), California (5.3), and Florida (5.3).    Drivers feeling compassion less frequently are in Pennsylvania (4.8), Ohio (4.8), New York (4.7), Illinois (4.6), and Michigan (4.2).  Congratulations drivers in Colorado!  But I must remind us that Colorado drivers admit to more dangerous tailgating than any other State--so the accolade is mixed.  You will note this in other places of my analysis.   There is no way of picking one State and saying, You're the Worst on Everything.   Drivers in each State pick their own pattern--what aggressive behaviors to emphasize in relation to some other place.  This is another way of saying that aggressive driving norms vary from place to place, as indeed you would expect when dealing with a cultural practice or habit.

Now let's see how age and gender figure into the picture.  Who is feeling the compassion--the young or the old?  The women or the men?  If you click on the tables and graphs I provide, you can see that the women feel compassion more than the men, and that the older drivers feel more compassion than the young.  But there is a complicating factor that is quite revealing when you compare the men and women in the three age groups.  The young women drivers are only slightly less compassionate than the older women drivers (5.1 vs. 5.5), while the young men drivers are quite a bit less compassionate than either the women of their age or the men who are older (4.3 for yon men drivers; 5.0 for middle aged men, and 5.6 for senior men).  Note that as drivers get older, the men catch up to the women in feeling compassion more regularly:  for the young drivers, the difference is large (4.3 for  men vs. 5.1 for women); for middle aged drivers, the difference between the genders gets smaller (5.0 for the men vs. 5.5 for the women); as they enter the senior category, men are equally compassionate to women (5.6 vs. 5.5 or the same within error).   The error rate for this 10-point scale of regularity is about .3 of a scale unit (see the column marked "St. Err." in the tables I provide).

The graphs for type of car and compassion show a steady picture with most of the types hovering just under 5 on a 10-point scale for feeling compassion regularly.  Even within these small differences, drivers of vans (5.4) and family cars (5.1) feel compassionate significantly more often than the others, but the difference is small.   When you look at the graph for compassion for men and women driving the various types of cars, you see that women drivers feel compassion more often than men no matter what cars they drive.  There is one exception:  men who drive vans are even more compassionate (5.8) than the women who drive them (4.8).  Congratulations men who drive vans!  Just one little point I might add as DrDriving:  Why not push up the regularity of  feeling compassionate for other drivers from 5.8 to 9.8 or 10?  There is nothing wrong with feeling compassion on every car trip, you know.  It reduces stress and restores driving to an act of community shared pleasure, not frustration and mutual hostility.   However, we need to learn HOW to feel compassionate on a regular basis, it isn't easy without training ourselves.  If you look at the pattern for type of car and age group, you see no particular effect.  Feeling compassion seems to depend on your age and gender, not the type of car you drive.

Figure 2. Aggressive Driving Death Rate by State

Original article may be found here

Rank

State

Deaths per 100,000 people

1996 Aggressive Driving Deaths

1

South Carolina

15.1

557

2

Wyoming

13.9

67

3

Alabama

13.7

586

4

Kansas

13.7

352

5

Oklahoma

13.6

448

6

New Mexico

12.9

221

7

North Carolina

12.4

909

8

Arkansas

12.4

311

9

Idaho

11.9

141

10

Florida

11.7

1679

11

Missouri

10.8

581

12

Mississippi

10.5

285

13

Tennessee

10.2

545

14

Montana

10.2

90

15

Texas

9.9

1901

16

Arizona

9.8

434

17

Utah

9.7

195

18

Nevada

9.7

156

19

North Dakota

9.6

62

20

South Dakota

9.6

70

21

Georgia

9.4

690

22

Colorado

9.3

354

23

Kentucky

9.0

348

24

Nebraska

8.7

143

25

Vermont

8.2

48

26

California

8.1

2582

27

Michigan

7.9

759

28

Louisiana

7.9

344

29

West Virginia

7.8

142

30

Delaware

7.6

55

31

Indiana

7.3

424

32

Ohio

7.1

794

33

Oregon

7.0

225

34

Maine

6.9

86

35

Pennsylvania

6.7

802

36

Illinois

6.6

784

37

Wisconsin

6.6

340

38

Alaska

6.3

38

39

Washington

6.1

335

40

Virginia

5.9

395

41

Maryland

5.8

295

42

Minnesota

5.8

268

43

Hawaii

5.6

66

44

Iowa

5.6

159

45

Connecticut

4.5

146

46

New Jersey

4.1

330

47

New Hampshire

4.1

48

48

New York

3.7

671

49

Massachusetts

3.3

201

50

Rhode Island

3.1

31

 

Emotions, Anger, Mastery, Compassion

Seeing Red, Feeling Blue and other books and articles about emotions

           

oogle

       

 

 

 



 

Item 58:  Parents yelling at another driver

PARENTS YELLING--by States

THEIR ADULT CHILDREN YELLING TODAY--by States

PARENTS YELLING--by Age

PARENTS YELLING--by Gender

PARENTS YELLING--by Type of Car

PARENTS YELLING--by Type of Car and Gender

THEIR ADULT CHILDREN YELLING TODAY--by Type of Car and Gender

PARENTS YELLING--by Type of Car and Age

Yelling at people is obviously a cultural norm, so it's not surprising that drivers in different States yell at one another each according to their custom.  Here we are asking drivers to tell on their parents.  In the recollection of these drivers, the big yelling States for parents are Florida (43%), Michigan (42%), and Pennsylvania (39%).  These respondents who see their parents as big yellers are themselves yellers today:  Florida (46%), Michigan (36%), and Pennsylvania (53%).  As you can see from the graph, their adult children today are also big yellers, sometimes more than their parents, as in Pennsylvania (53%) and sometimes a little less, as in Florida (36%).

The age of the respondent has some influence on how they remember their parents yelling behavior in cars.  The younger group (15 to 24) are the closest in time to witness their parents actual driving.  Of this age group, 33%, or one in three, remember their parents as yelling at other drivers.  The middle aged group (25 to 54) is similar:  30% of them remember their parents yelling at other drivers.  The senior group (55 to 94) also recall their parents yelling, though somewhat less:   23%.  The verdict is in, folks:  we are a nation of yelling drivers, and as parents, we pass this norm on to our children, so when they grow up to be drivers, they too yell at one another.  Shouldn't we stop?  Last year 1200 people lost their lives in a road rage incident that started with yelling or some similar insulting and provocative behavior.  Many more fights occurred that did not result in fatalities.   It's time to change this norm.

More drivers of tough cars like sports cars (35%) and SUVs (32%) describe their parents as yelling regularly at other drivers, in comparison to drivers of soft cars economy cars (28%) and family cars (29%)--as you can see from the graphs.  What's remarkable to me is that so many of us describe our parents as aggressively yelling at other drivers:   one in four or one in three.  When we delve deeper into gender and age in relation to type of car, you can see from the graphs I provide that except for sports cars, more women remember their parents as yelling than men remember them, for all types of cars (except sports cars).  Now when you compare this result to the yelling women and men confess to doing on their own, you can see that they tend to follow their parental image:  women drivers today report yelling more than men behind the wheel for all types of cars except sports cars and vans.   Looking at how age groups remember their parents yelling, we see that the general pattern:  for all types of cars, except SUVs, fewer senior drivers remember their parents as having yelled at other drivers than the other age groups.  But not senior drivers of SUVs:  they remember their parents as yellers.  Oops...when I look at the size of the sample...only 5...OK nix that one.  Let's just say we'll watch this development carefully as more samples are coming in.

Dear DrDriving:  I strongly believe that parents must be involved in the total education of their child. That means Reading, wRiting, aRithmatic, and Responsibility. When you take on the responsibility of bringing a child into this world, you also assume the responsibility of raising that child to become a responsible member of society. This includes driving.

Getting behind the wheel of a car is not a right, it's a privilege. Children must learn that if they do not EARN a privilege, they will not get it. When they abuse it, this privilege will be taken away. Once a child realizes this, and understands the responsibility that comes with driving, they are no longer a child.


DrDriving:  When I was a teenage driver, I hated when my parents told me what to do while I was driving. I would not listen to a word they say because I was behind the wheel and not them. Everything they would tell me before I would go out with my friends, I would just do the opposite. Educating young teenage drivers is great when you want to start teaching them the basics of safe driving. But, should it start from when they get behind the wheel? Educating drivers should start prior to their age limit of getting their permit. I think that the earlier you start educating future drivers, the earlier they realize the dangers of driving. Parents also should be taught how to approach their child to safe driving. They should also educate themselves because they too are not the perfect drivers themselves.

 

Item 29:  Cruising in the passing lane

CRUISING IN THE PASSING LANE--by States

CRUISING IN THE PASSING LANE--by Age

CRUISING IN THE PASSING LANE--by Gender

CRUISING IN THE PASSING LANE--by Type of Car

Thousands of people write to me and there is one complaint drivers have about each other that may be the single most important reason they get aggressive and hostile:  cruising in the left lane,  also referred to as blocking the passing lane.  Now we are looking at the self-confessed lane blocks by States.

The young admit to cruising in the passing lane than the middle aged group (15% vs. 12%).  One interesting finding:  only 6% of the senior group (55 to 94) admit to blocking the passing lane.  Congratulations, senior drivers!  However, lets wait for more results to come in because there were only 47 drivers in that age group in this sample, while the other two age groups had 500 drivers in each.  Thus, the error rate for the senior sample is 4% while for the other two groups less than 2%.  For the time being, let's consider a trend to be confirmed later.  In terms of gender, the women drivers see themselves less guilty of blocking the passing lane than men do:  11% vs. 14%.   This is a statistically significant difference since the error rate is less than 2%.  Once again, the difference of 3% may not seem important, even if very reliable, and yet it is when you consider the difference as a yearly cumulation over 60 years (the lifetime career of most drivers).  Men drivers in this generation will kill and maim hundreds of thousands of more people than the women of this generation, if this 3% difference is maintained.

The graphs show that for different types of car, drivers of sports cars and pick-up light trucks block the passing lane somewhat more than the rest of the pack (15% vs. 11%), but the effect is not statistically significant for this sample.  In terms of age, young drivers confess to blocking the passing lane somewhat more than middle aged (15% vs. 12%), but the effect is not statistically significant for this sample.  There were not enough seniors in the sample to make this comparison.  Similarly there is a trend, but not yet a statistical significance, for male drivers to confess to more left lane blocking for some types of cars (luxury, sports, pick-up light trucks), while women drivers confess to more of that than men in case of family cars (surprise!!), SUVs (expected!!), and vans.   I'll be watching these trends as new data come in.

Copyright © 1998 The Seattle Times Company
National/World News : Tuesday, March 02, 1999
Bigger trucks, SUVs, vans put car riders at risk, study says
by The Associated Press
DETROIT - Tall, stiff-framed sport-utility vehicles, light trucks and minivans pose a greater risk of injury and death to car drivers and passengers in collisions, researchers say.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported yesterday on four tests involving front-end crashes between a 1997 Honda Accord and four other vehicles: a 1998 Chevrolet S-10 compact pickup, a 1997 Dodge Caravan minivan, a 1997 Ford Explorer SUV and a 1997 Chevrolet Lumina sedan.

In nearly every injury measurement, the driver dummy in the Accord suffered greater injuries in 35-mph crashes with the pickup, minivan and SUV than it did in a crash with the other sedan.

A separate study, done by the University of Michigan, found that 2,000 people died in 1996 because their cars were hit by a truck, SUV or minivan rather than a car.

read the rest in the original here

 

From: RO <ro.com>
To: DrDriving@DrDriving.org
Subject: Minivans
----------------------------------------

Dr. Driving,

One comment on your survey. I think minivan drivers vastly overrate
their driving ability and underestimate how much they break the law. I
have had more close calls with minivans than any other category. They
don't use their mirrors and are constantly distracted by bratty kids,
makeup and cells phones. The only time I been run off of the road in
Colorado is by a very scary minivan driver who did it deliberately
because she couldn't get into the left lane.

RO

               

 

 

Item 39:  Experiencing rage while driving

EXPERIENCING RAGE--by Age and Gender

EXPERIENCING RAGE--by Type of Car

EXPERIENCING RAGE--by Type of Car and Gender

EXPERIENCING RAGE--by Type of Car and Age

There seem to be no differences across the 10 States in this sub-sample, so I won't post the graphs for that analysis.  But there are interesting differences if you look at age differences across gender.  As you can see in the graphs I provide,   young men report having roadrageous emotions more regularly than young women (5.5 vs. 4.9).  This is a significant difference (the error rate is less than .2 of a scale unit).  Once again, I believe that this small but consistent and reliable difference has a huge impact over the long run.  As the drivers move into the middle aged group (25 years to 54), the men  report a reduction in amount of road rage emotions (4.9), while the young women drivers remain about the same (4.8).  Thus, men and women in the middle aged group report the same amount of road rage:  4.8 on a 10 point-scale from 0 (never) to 10 (regularly).  By the time drivers move into the senior group (55+), both men and women report less rage behind the wheel:  4.1 for senior men and 3.6 for senior women.  However, this last result is not reliable because of the small sub-sample for senior women drivers.  Let's watch it as a trend with the new data coming in.

What about feeling rage in relation to the type of car one drives?  Big significant effect here:  on the higher end of road rage emotions we find the people who drive sports cars (5.5),  pick-up light trucks (5.3), and economy cars (5.1).  On the lower end of road rage emotions:  drivers of vans (4.0), family cars (4.8), and SUVs (4.8).  This is an unusual alignment where the "tough" vs. "soft" categories do not fit the usual pattern.  Perhaps by looking at age and gender factors in relation to type of car, we might find out more.  As you can see from the graphs and tables, type of car interacts with gender in intricate ways, and can be summarized as follows:

TYPE OF CAR and ROAD RAGE feelings by MEN and WOMEN

Economy cars

Men report more road rage than women (5.4 vs. 4.8)

Family cars

Women report more road rage than men (5.0 vs. 4.5)

Luxury cars

Men and women report equal amounts of road rage--both relatively low
(4.7 and 4.9 -- no difference within error)

Sports cars & pick-up light trucks

Men and women report equal amounts of road rage--both relatively high (5.5 and 5.4 -- no difference within error)

SUVs

Men report a lot more road rage than women (5.2 vs. 4.3)

Vans

Men report a lot more road rage than women--both relatively low
(4.7 vs. 2.9)

Now if you take a look at the graphs for type of car and age, you'll see that my sub-sample for seniors is too small to draw reliable conclusions.  But if you leave them out, you can still compare the young group vs. the middle aged group.  Marked differences are visible as follows:

TYPE OF CAR and AGE in relation to ROAD RAGE feelings

Economy, Family, SUVs

Young and middle aged drivers report equal amounts of road rage (around 4.9)

Luxury, Sports, light trucks

Young drivers report much more road rage than middle aged drivers
(5.7 vs. 4.9)

Vans

Young drivers report much less road rage than middle aged drivers
(3.3 vs. 4.3 -- Caution:  small sample here)

Clearly, the type of car people drive makes a difference regarding their aggressiveness, and in this case, regarding how regularly they experience the emotion of rage and anger.  What is the mechanism of this?  One possibility is that these cars attract drivers who are inclined to be more aggressive, either in general, or in specific ways (remember, not all aggressive behaviors are correlated--people seem to pick and choose on the basis of sub-culture, age, gender, State they live in, and perhaps other factors not investigated here such as personality, life style, religiousness, and so on.   More research is needed to look into these important issues.

Here is a letter I received that reflects the image drivers have of each other with regard to type of car:

From MBowlerEsq@aol.com Sat Jan 9 10:48:47 1999
Date: Wed, 6 Jan 1999 19:41:24 -1000
From: MB@aol.com
To: dyc@DrDriving.org
Subject: Motorcycles v. Mini-vans

Dear Dr Driver:

I think I have solved part of the problem with middle-aged women in mini-vans
I encounter when driving my Harley.

I finally sat inside one of those vehicles. One sits up high, as if one is in
a large truck. Yet, the rear view mirrors are about the same size as family
car mirrors. As someone who learned to drive years ago in a very large four
wheel drive vehicle (in Baja California before there was a paved road), I know
the mini-van's mirrors are way too small.

In addition, such vehicles drive very differently than standard sedans. When I
was in the Air Force I was licensed to drive every size truck except semi-
light trucks. It takes some training and effort to drive them correctly. Most min-
van drivers are middle-aged, middle-class housewives who possibly never have
driven anything but a family car or sedan. Suddenly, they are driving one of
these behemoths around, probably with screaming kids in the back.

Car manufacturers should be required to install large, truck-style rear view
mirrors on min-vans. The drivers should place small convex mirrors (which can
be purchased at any auto-parts store) on the outside rear view mirrors. In
addition, the driver should be warned that these vehicles should be driven
with extreme caution, especially by those with no experience driving light trucks
.

Taking a driving lesson or two probably wouldn't be a bad idea.

Until then, my Harley and I plan to steer clear of these moving accidents.

Best,

Mike

And here is a recent newspaper article:

From gbarrett@gns.gannett.com Tue Jan 19 20:14:55 1999
Date: Tue, 19 Jan 1999 11:52:59 -1000
From: gbarrett@gns.gannett.com
To: leon@hawaii.edu
Subject: Article quoting you about SUVs

Dr. James,

Thanks very much for helping me with my article on SUVs. It went out
this week on Gannett's wire to 104 newspapers in the U.S. and Canada. ~
Greg Barrett

A mighty fortress is our car
By GREG BARRETT
Gannett News Service

Forget the revved up 1950s Chevy with big black tires and missing
muffler. The muscle car of the millennium is tall and broad and prefers
to be called by its initials - SUV. Powerful and preppy like JFK or IBM.
The SUV - Sport Utility Vehicle - is our land yacht, our tank, our 5,000
pounds of armor protecting us from road rage and pileups and that idiot
hugging
our bumper. So popular is this steel behemoth that in the last

decade the auto industry has increased its offering of SUVs from a half
dozen models to 40.

Sales of Sport Utility Vehicles in the United States topped 2.7 million
in 1998, up from 961,000 in 1988 and 2.4 million in 1997. In a survey
last year of 26,000 vehicle owners, 44 percent said they would consider
buying an SUV - making it the No. 1 vehicle considered, says
AutoPacific, Inc., an automotive marketing and product consulting firm.
"We forecast that by the year 2000, sales will exceed 3 million," says
Jim Hall, AutoPacific's vice president of industry analysis.
But why? What is the draw of these road giants? To hear Georgia Tech
psychologist Jack Feldman tell it, SUVs are roadway cousins to the
trendy Timberland boots that scuff the polished floors of suburban
malls.

"Most SUVs today will never see dirt, so you have lots of motives for
their popularity - fashion, practicality, safety," says Feldman, a
motorcyclist and driver of a 2,300-pound Mazda Miata. "An SUV is as
practical as a minivan but does not make you look like a soccer mom. For
a lot of people, that is a real incentive."
It's large like a linebacker, an engine with shoulder pads and menace.
"There's the mentality that a certain amount of power comes with size,
perceived or real," says Ken Roberts, spokesman for the Automotive
Service Association, a nonprofit group of 55,000 mechanics and body shop
workers.

"In the SUV the driver is elevated, sits higher, and looking down on
fellow motorists gives the greater impression of power. I am bigger than
you ... so I am a little more powerful."

Beneath the hood, however, the SUV isn't much different than a pickup
truck or minivan. But those lack the polish and panache needed for
mainstream stardom. "The minivan is looked down on by some as wimpy,"
Roberts says "The pickup is actually very similar to the SUV ... except
in appearance."
And in name. light trucks get tagged with monikers such as Tacoma or
Silverado. Minivans are Express or Venture. But the SUV, it drips
adrenaline: Navigator, Blazer, Bravada, Mountaineer.
For 5-foot-3 Donna Martin of Winston-Salem, N.C., her Grand Cherokee
Jeep SUV is a family protector. It may never carry the carcass of a
caribou, but it gives her a better view and 2,000 pounds more safety
than a pickup. "I like that I'm a little higher up and can see better,"
she says.

Towering above traffic, the SUV plods the road without making eye
contact with cars, light trucks or minivans. The Toyota Land Cruiser, a
popular SUV, stands 6-foot-1 compared to Toyota's top-selling Camry,
4-foot-6, or its Tacoma truck, 5-foot-2.
Toyota's Sienna minivan is a relative tower at 5-foot-6 and 4,000
pounds, but it's small compared to the Land Cruiser's 5,115 pounds.
"If I'm in an accident," says Martin, a mother of one with another on
the way, "I'm less likely to get hurt."

The National Highway Safety Administration concurs. In studies it says
when an SUV collides with the driver's side of a car, the car's driver
is 30 times more likely to die than the driver of the SUV. In car-to-car
accidents, the struck driver was 6 and a half times more likely to die.
"That's one of the reasons the federal government gnashes its teeth and
pulls its hair out about these things," Feldman says. "When the drivers
of these SUVs surround themselves in all this steel ... I would predict
they feel safer and maybe they aren't always as alert as, say, I'm going
to be in my little Miata."

In an 18-month-old ongoing Internet survey of drivers from the United
States and Canada, drivers of SUVs admit to being more aggressive -
quicker to tailgate, speed or change lanes without signaling, reports
Leon James, a professor of traffic psychology at the University of
Hawaii-Manoa. Anyone can answer James' questions on the Web site
(DrDriving.org), and so far 1,100 drivers have completed the Road
Rage Survey.

"Women who drive SUVs are the most aggressive of all, even more
aggressive than the men who drive these cars," James says. "It's easy
for me to conclude at this point in the survey that the people who are
attracted to SUVs tend to be somewhat more aggressive than other
people."

Aggressive. Trendy. Wary of rush hour and, perhaps, of road rage. All
these traits, Feldman says, drive the SUV boom: "It's really not that
complicated. ... None of this has Freudian overtones."

Songs About Cars

Item 26:  Making an insulting gesture

INSULTING GESTURE--by Age and Gender

INSULTING GESTURE--by Type and Gender

INSULTING GESTURE--by States

           

oogle

       

 

 

 



 

Quite strong effects occur here, as you can see from the graphs.  The pattern is similar to what we found with several other aggressive driving behaviors.  A lot more young men drivers confess to making insulting gestures on a regular basis than young women drivers:  41% vs. 23%.  Almost every other young male driver indulges in this dangerous habit, according to their own confession, while one in four young women drivers do it.  How astonishing!  Making an insulting gesture to another driver betrays a lack of respect for both others and the law.  More States are legislating new laws that include jail term and fines for making insulting gestures (see here).  Middle aged drivers are also hot for this dangerous indulgence, somewhat more for men than women (27% vs. 24%).  So it's good to see that half of those young men quit the habit when they move into the middle aged group.  By the time male drivers are 55 and over (senior group), only 17% report the aggressive habit of making insulting gestures.  Strangely, more of the senior women drivers report holding on to this awful habit:  25% -- how astonishing ladies!!   A note of caution:  the female senior group was too small in this sample (only 18) so this is not a reliable finding.  Let's watch for the new data coming in.

There is also a strong effect by type of car and gender.  Men who drive sports cars, SUVs, and pick-up light trucks are the most aggressive practicians of insulting gestures:  42%, 33%, and 37%, respectively.   But women who drive sports cars and light trucks are also high on insulting gestures:  32% and 37%.  Fewer people report using insulting gestures when they drive economy cars (25% for men, 19% for women) and vans (21% for men, 11% for women).  For family and luxury cars, men and women report equal usage of insulting gestures (about 27%).

Statewise, the biggest self-confessed gesture users as a way to insult other drivers are in California (39%) and Pennsylvania (35%), with Colorado and Texas somewhat less (28%).  Those who report themselves using this offensive gesture least are the drivers in Florida (14%), Georgia (18%), New York (19%), and Ohio (20%).

Items 21, 30, and 38:  Impatience, Hostility, and Road Rage

THE ZONE OF IMPATIENCE--by Age and Gender

THE ZONE OF HOSTILITY--by Age and Gender

THE ZONE OF ROAD RAGE--by Age and Gender

My survey is divided into three categories of items, each being an escalation of aggressive driving behavior.  Zone 1 is called the zone of Impatience because it lists items like mild speeding (5 to 10 above limit), making rolling stops, lane hopping, swearing, going through red light, etc. (you can see the full wording of all the items here). Zone 2 is made of more serious aggressive behaviors such as serious speeding (15 to 25 above limit), yelling and honking at other drivers, tailgating, shining your brights to annoy a driver, and blocking the passing lane.  This zone is called the zone of Hostility for obvious reasons.  Finally, we reach Zone 3, which is the zone of Road Rage:   brake job, cutting off, blocking, chasing, fighting.  I have one "combo scale" that asks "Combined, how regularly do you do things in this category" for each of the three zones.

The numbers at the bottom tell the tale.  It's a 10-point scale (like the other scales in this survey) going from 1=never to 10=quite regularly.  Note the range as you run your eyes left to right:  From a high of 6.9 to a low of 2.1.   I can summarize the pattern as follows:

for Zone 1 aggressive behaviors (being impatient or rushing all the time), the young of both genders are the most aggressively impatient, and among these, the men are more so than the women. The middle aged drivers are only slightly lower, and equal for both genders (6.4).  The senior drivers are quite a bit lower, for both men and women (about 4.8).

For Zone 2 aggressive behaviors (being hostile and attacking), the young men are much more aggressive and hostile than the young women (5.4 vs. 4.4).  This makes sense culturally, since women avoid aggressive hostile behavior with strangers much more than men.  The male aggressive norm is obviously stronger than the female in our society, so this cultural norm is also reflected in driving behavior.  Even as drivers enter the middle aged group, the men are significantly more aggressive and hostile than the women (4.4 vs. 4.2 --small but reliable, the error rate is only .15).  By the time we enter the senior age category, drivers are much less hostile, but the men still more than the women (3.4 vs. 2.8).

For Zone 3 aggressive behaviors or road rage (cutting off, break job, blocking, chasing, fighting), all drivers report a lower incidence, but the pattern remains.  Young men more violent than young women drivers (3.9 vs. 2.9), middle aged men more violent than middle aged women (3.0 vs. 2.7), and senior men more than senior women drivers (2.5 vs. 2.1).  Note that the overall occurrence of aggressive behaviors in the three zones decreases:  for Impatience (Zone 1), the range is from 6.9 down to 4.7); for Hostility (Zone 2), the range is from 5.4 to 2.8); for Road Rage violence, the range is 3.9 to 2.1).

RESEARCH IN AUSTRALIA

1.3 Demographic Comparisons

1.3.1 Age groups

The survey clearly shows that age is the main predictor of how frequently drivers exceed the speed limit. Only 4% of drivers aged over 60 say they often exceed the speed limit. The figure rises to 7% of drivers in the 40-59 age group. However, 14% of 25-39 year olds and 19% of the under 24s admit they often exceed the speed limit.

The youngest group surveyed, 15-24 years of age, is more focused on alcohol (66%) as a road safety issue than speed (54%). Also, they are the most likely to say that they don’t drink if they are going to drive (58%), against the average of 40%. People in this age group who do drink remain the most interested in using a self-operated breath testing machine, with 47% saying 'very likely' in comparison to the national average of 28%.

1.3.2 Male : Female

The survey shows a marked difference in attitudes between females and males when it comes to speeding and drink driving.

More females than males place speed as the main cause of road crashes (39% to 31% of males), think that there should be strict enforcement of speed limits for 60 km/hr zones (49% to 39% of males) and for 100 km/hr zones (42% to only 24% of males). Fewer females than males believe it is okay to exceed the speed limit if you are driving safely (27% to 39% of males).

These attitudes may be reflected in the fact that fewer females (16%) than males (25%) said they had been booked for speeding in the last two years. However, the incidence of females being booked has grown from 12% in 1998 to 16% in the 1999 survey.

Females who hold a driver’s licence are significantly more likely than males to say they do not drink at any time (21% of females, 13% of males). A much larger proportion of females (67%) than males (48%) say that they do not drink before they drive. Females surveyed are still less likely than males to be aware of the correct guidelines for alcohol consumption by their sex, particularly for the first hour.

When it comes to being a pedestrian, females (61%), especially in the 15-24 age group (71%), are significantly more likely than males (49%) to think that having a BAC over .05 would affect their ability to act safely as a pedestrian.

original report here

 

Items 74 through 79:  Support for Initiatives

MORE LAW ENFORCEMENT--by Type and Gender

MORE ELECTRONIC SURVEILLANCE--by Type and Gender

MORE DRIVER ED--by Type and Gender

This part of the results attempts to relate the dynamics of aggressive driving to one's philosophy and ideology about driving and its various societal institutions.  These initiatives include three areas:   more law enforcement, better training for new drivers, and lowered insurance premiums to reward safer drivers.  Is there a relationship between type of car driven and one's support for these initiatives?   The answer is Yes, depending on gender and age.

Which drivers support law enforcement initiatives (item 74) ?  You can click on the graph to see.  The answer is the same as for the next question, so I will describe it only once:

DrDriving:  I got a speeding ticket once. I was going about 70 in a 55 zone. That ticket cost me 95 dollars! That 95 dollars was enough to make me not speed for about 6 months. Then I was back speeding again. I still speed. With a little more caution, but I still speed.

I see two solutions to the problem of speeding. One, we could ALL become more responsible drivers, looking out for our fellow man, obeying the law to the tee, and imposing a little social and personal responsibility. But since there is FAT chance of that ever happening, there is a second solution. We could impose harsher sanctions for those that do break the law, speeding, driving drunk, whatever. Upping the fine a couple hundred dollars perhaps? Revoking a license for a period of time perhaps? In Singapore, they have STIFF penalties for littering and vandalism. I'm sure you all remember the caning incident a couple years back. Singapore also has one of the cleanest cities in the world. Imposing harsh penalties for law breakers works. But do we want to live in a country like that? I know I don't.

Which drivers support more electronic surveillance (item 75)?  Women drivers, more than men, support the idea of increasing electronic surveillance to combat aggressive driving (5.8 vs. 5.1).  There is one exception:  women who drive SUVs have the lowest support for electronic surveillance initiatives (5.2--same as men who drive these vehicles).  Among men, the lowest support for electronic surveillance are the drivers of sports and luxury cars (4.9 and 4.5 out of a 10-point scale); the highest support among men came from the van drivers (6.1).  Among women, lowest support came from SUV drivers (as just said--5.1), and sports car drivers (5.2), while the greatest support for electronic surveillance among women were those who drive vans (6.6) and luxury cars (6.5).

Which drivers support more driver education and training (item 76)?  The highest support comes from female drivers of light trucks (7.6--on the 10-point scale) and male drivers of vans (7.2).  The lowest support comes from male drivers of sports cars (6.0) and economy cars (6.0), and female drivers of SUVs (5.9--this is the lowest of all the sub-groups!!).  Another way of describing the pattern shown by the graphs is this:

For drivers of light trucks, men are a lot less supportive of increased driver education and training than women drivers of light trucks (6.6 vs. 7.6).  The reverse is true for SUVs:  men are a lot more supportive of more training than women drivers of SUVs (6.9 vs. 5.9).  For vans, men and women are equally supportive (at a high of 7.2 each).  For economy and family cars, women are more supportive than men (about 6.8 vs. 6.3).  For luxury cars, men and women are equal in their support (6.8).

Which drivers support more insurance rebates for good drivers (item 77)?  The highest support comes from female drivers of luxury cars (9.3 out of a 10-point scale), while the lowest support comes from male drivers of economy cars (7.1--but note this is pretty high anyway).  Women give varying amounts of support for insurance rebates depending on the type of car they drive.  For people who drive economy cars, women are more supportive than men (8.1 vs. 7.1).   Similarly for luxury and sports cars:  women are more supportive of the rebate idea then men (9.3 vs. 7.9 for luxury, and 8.2 vs. 7.7 for sports cars.  But for people who drive light trucks, women are somewhat less supportive than men for insurance premium rebates for good drivers (8.2 vs. 8.5).   Women and men are equally supportive of insurance rebates when they drive SUVs (8.4), vans (8.6), and family cars (8.4)--all relatively high support.  Here is a recent letter complaining about female drivers of SUVs:

Date: Fri, 5 Feb 1999 07:46:57 -1000
From: Di@netcom.ca
To: dyc@DrDriving.org
Subject: Dangerous Driving -SUV's

DrDriving,
In Calgary, Western Canada, I see a problem with the feminization of
society, and new found freedom to "get even" by females using SUV's. The
arrogance, plain stupidity and downright dangerous actions at high speed
by female SUV drivers in Calgary is really scary. These are not all
teenage girls either. The majority are married females, 30 and 40
something, usually mothers, who, I guess take out their frustration with
husband and kids on other drivers with their SUV's. When I see them
approaching, I move out of their way, hoping they will go and have their
accidents with somebody else!  And they do!

 

My Interpretations of These Findings

I take these results to be evidence that aggressive driving is a cultural norm that we acquire from parents and the media.  These anti-social practices behind the wheel have become a tradition.  Children imbibe them, boys and girls each in their own ways, suitable to their gender and age.  Our driver education begins as infants while riding in cars driven by adults who yell, curse, swear, make insulting gestures, break driving regulations like going through red light or doing some serious speeding.  Everyone of these aggressive and hostile behaviors is documented in this national survey of 1095 drivers.

The culturally transmitted norms of aggressive driving are not unitary and rigid, but vary demographically through the population.  Drivers behave badly in a variety of ways, and these varieties are influenced by geographic state and type of car.  Numerous statistically significant results are presented in dozens of graphs and tables throughout this document so that everyone can examine the pattern of relationships between specific types of aggressive behaviors in relation to age of drivers, their gender, the type of car they drive, and the state they drive in.

Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 12:06:21 -1000
From: CE <b@micronet.net>
To: dyc@DrDriving.org
Subject: US traffic fatality injury statistics by Age location.......

DrDriving:  Please look at these.
US traffic fatality injury statistics by Age location.......
www.disastercenter.com/traffic/Age.html   Age of Persons Killed or Injured
www.disastercenter.com/traffic/AgeGroup.html   Motor Vehicle Occupant Fatality and Injury Rates by Age Group, 1975-1997 per Year
www.disastercenter.com/traffic/BAC.html   Drivers Killed in Crashes, by Age and Driver's Blood Alcohol Concentration
www.disastercenter.com/traffic/Crash88_.html   Crashes by Crash Severity, 1988-1997
www.disastercenter.com/traffic/Fatality.html   Persons Killed or Injured by Population, Drivers, Vehicles, and Miles Traveled, 1966-1997
www.disastercenter.com/traffic/Pedest.html   Pedestrians Killed or Injured by Age and Sex
www.disastercenter.com/traffic/Persons.html   Persons Killed Vehicle Type by and Person Type 1975-1997
www.disastercenter.com/traffic/Restrain.html   Occupants Killed and Injured, by Restraint Use and Type of Restraint
www.disastercenter.com/traffic/State.htm   Persons Killed and Fatality Rates by State, 1996
www.disastercenter.com/traffic/tpe.htm   Persons Killed, by State and Person Type

As a society, therefore, we must recognize that cultural transmission and tradition are responsible factors in aggressive driving, and contribute to it.  Therefore cultural techniques of re-education are needed to reverse the generational trend.  We can collect all sorts of advice and hints for how to stop the increase in aggressive driving (see my large collection here, culled from the Web).  If this trend is not reversed, we can expect aggressive driving to increase, despite the more extensive law enforcement and electronic 'surveillance' initiatives that are being instituted throughout the country.  The full solution or elimination of this problem lies in consciously and deliberately reversing the cultural tradition that allows us to express hostility behind the wheel (see here for a list of the top 100 complaints drivers have about one another).  It's obvious that feelings run very intense and to solve this problem is easier said than done.  In my role as DrDriving, I have been providing various types of self-management tools and socially dynamic methods of  motivating drivers to accept the idea of Lifelong Driver Education as a matter of social responsibility, as outlined above in this document. The overall goal of driver education must be explicitly stated in positive terms, rather than merely negative.  The goal must be to evolve a cultural norm for driving that can be called Supportive Driving, in opposition to Aggressive Driving.  Oddly enough, research by psychologists has remained limited to a few problems--see my large bibliography of driving research here.

We need to understand the difference between these two opposing driving styles and philosophies.  Car society is now beginning its second century.  For the first century society was able to license drivers through minimal training and examination, and this approach worked for a while, but things started braking down in the 1950s when more and more drivers began to drive the fast moving vehicles placed in their hands.  The death rate climbed to above 50,000 for many years.  It was brought down to its current 40,000 fatalities a year through better car design, better road engineering, more safety laws, better paramedical services.  Still, 40,000 fatalities year after year turns the highways into war zones (about 50,000 American fatalities were incurred in the entire six-year Vietnam war).  Add to this amazing carnage, 5 million crashes with enormous suffering and disruption to lives for millions, and an economic cost of 200 billion per year, and you begin to realize that we are having an enormously serious problem to fix.  The goal:  to turn the 177 million drivers in this nation (the number is climbing...) into Supportive Drivers.  Since this philosophy is contrary to tradition, habit, and convenience we are faced with people's massive opposition to their self-transformation.  Drivers have their own theory as to why drivers makes them mad.  These popular but non-adaptive attitudes and rationalizations must be abandoned in favor of emotionally more intelligent alternatives.

I have been studying this resistance to driver self-improvement for two decades, first in myself, then with other drivers as well.  A necessary departing strategy had to be the identification of aggressive behaviors by drivers.  This led to a taxonomy or inventory of hundreds of driving behaviors in three areas of the driver's habits:  affective (the driver's attitudes, motives, and moral feelings), cognitive (the driver's emotional intelligence and judgment), and sensorimotor (the driver's vehicle manipulation (including gestures and verbalizations).  I also used this taxonomy of driver behaviors to catalogue the complaints drivers have about one another.  You can get the details by examining the various links I provided for each topic in my table above outlining the details of lifelong driver education.  I have also used this approach in a video course for driver re-education based on these same objectives.

The two sides of this Driving Covenant shows where we are and where we must be headed as an entire generation of 177 million drivers.

Transforming Ourselves from a Pack of Aggressive Drivers to a Community of Supportive Drivers

emotional helplessness as a driver
WHERE WE ARE AS
AGGRESSIVE DRIVERS

emotional competence as a driver
WHERE WE MUST BE HEADED AS
SUPPORTIVE DRIVERS

·       feeling coerced by another driver's provocation

·       being intolerant of drivers who fall short of one's own standards

·       being blind to one's own aggressiveness or provocative behaviors

·       believing one's own false suspicions about other drivers

·       feeling justified in punishing other drivers for the sake of righting the wrong they commit

·       maintaining a hostile attitude on highways that is hurtful to society and community

·       exercising choices as to how we express our feelings

·       managing disruptive emotions or impulses

·       staying composed or calm in the face of provocation

·       thinking clearly under emergency conditions

·       learning de-escalating skills to back out of fights

·       accepting the driving issue as a character issue or a moral one

·       accepting the idea of lifelong driver self-improvement

I believe that the enormous driving challenge that is facing our society today can become an opportunity for strengthening our community and evolving more humane and compassionate relations with each other.  Instead of mutual antagonism, we will feel and express mutual support.  Driving can increase our humanity by forcing us to make peace on our highways and streets and parking lots.  We must, or else we will see an increase of hostile behavior in public places, as people are now beginning to talk about parking lot rage, pedestrian rage, bicyclists rage, air rage, the millennium rage, neighbor rage, and so on.  Let's not go that route!  And yet more and more people will be tempted to slide into these dangers forms of behaviors due to social imitation and emotional  contagion.

Reporters often ask me this question:  What solutions do you have for the aggressive driving problem?  As I have outlined above, the Threestep Program specifies the problem and the solution.  Step 1 is "A" for Acknowledge--that is, as a driver I must acknowledge that I exhibit aggressive behaviors, either overtly or internally, or both.  This is a big step for most drivers.  To make this first step means that you are confessing to your bad driving behaviors and that you're giving up the reputation you have with yourself as being a good driver ("I'm an excellent driver" comes to the lips of two out of three drivers you ask--see above).   I was intensely "flamed" (polemical attacks in electronic newsgroups) when I participated in the public electronic forum discussions among drivers who vehemently criticized "stupid" drivers for their seemingly lack of consideration for other drivers--see the detailed analysis in my students' reports).

My point in those messages to those drivers was that we all make mistakes and that we have different standards and skills--therefore we've got to be more tolerant of these people instead of becoming more aggressive against them.  For example, there are more elderly people who drive (and this is going to increase markedly as the baby boomers get into the senior group, we are told by the experts).  Today there are more handicapped people who drive, and they legitimately do so under the protection of the law.  More people who are on medications or have some temporary physical problem (pain, itch, cramp, ache, gas, stomach reflux, nervous tremors, heart arrhythmia--all medical condition that come on suddenly.  With 125 million on the road you can see that hundreds of thousands of drivers are out there every day under some kind of unavoidable handicap.  There are more tourists and strangers around who don't know the local customs.

So I told these drivers it's not rational to blame these drivers who appear to be doing something "stupid" due to their handicap.  Nor is it compassionate, in my judgment.  Nor is it legal to retaliate with aggressive acts such as they were fantasizing doing (for the fun of it), or joking about doing.  So I was hooted out of the gallery, so to speak.  There was tremendous resistance, and personal attacks on me, when  I argued that Princess Diana's tragic crash in the tunnel in Paris was a case of aggressive driving (or "road rage") by the driver who took enormous and very bad risks as a result his emotional inability to deal with the Paparasize="3i pursuit in a calmer and safer manner.  This would be obvious to any safety or security personnel.  I kept copies of these exchanges as a way of increasing awareness that our current societal driving philosophy--the driving norm--is shocking and harmful. To witness yourself the extreme abuse drivers heap on one another, see these reports by my students.  You can also look at unanalyzed files I kept of many of these vehement self-portrayals--here.

           

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