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The CARRworkbook for Teachers and Parents

Dr. Leon James and Dr. Diane Nahl

·       Introduction

·       Part 1: Defining the concept of aggressive driving

·       Part 2: Driving Observation Exercise

·       Part 3: Good and bad passenger behaviors

·       Part 4: Aggressive driving behaviors and their consequences

·       Part 5: Evaluation Sheet for Drivers Behaving Badly on TV (DBB Ratings)

·       Part 6: Driving Informatics

·       Part 7: Safety Facts

·       Part 8: Road Rage Formula

·       Part 9: Driving Slogans to Remember

·       Part 10: CARRtoon Vignettes



The Back Seat of the Car Can Now Be Called Road Rage Nursery

The following activities can help children become more aware passengers by focusing their attention on when and where they are being exposed to aggressive driving practices of the adults around them. This learning activity in the car will provide the children-passengers with an opportunity to become aware of the social categories our society uses to define the role of the driver.

This is critical knowledge for them to have in order to protect them from the high fatality risk they will be undergoing as teenage drivers and passengers of teenage drivers. To be respectful of their vehicle and the power that it possesses is key. A car is not just some toy made of cheap auto parts, but a high grade machine with materials from a partsgeek.com type of service that has the potential to cause serious harm to themselves or others if the proper operational practices are not adhered to.

Children, as passengers in cars and buses, are at risk of absorbing the hostile attitudes and risky practices of their adult drivers. This is an unconscious cultural  transmission from one generation to the next that is injurious to the children now and later, when they become aggressive drivers. Road rage is a cultural temper tantrum learned in childhood in road rage nursery strapped to the back seat and quietly imbibing the adult's verbal ranting and raving against the traffic, the construction workers, the government, other motorists. This recurrent stream of verbal road rage may be reinforced with gestures and sudden vehicle movements like sudden acceleration or darting across lanes. These modes of behaving and driving are shared by the entire generation and reinforced on television and in driving stories that drivers tell each other to vent their anger.

Giving children an increased awareness of the verbal and mental components of aggressive driving, can act as a psychological inoculation mechanism to prevent the unconscious absorbing of aggressive and risky personality traits behind the wheel. When the children are more aware of the behaviors and attitudes that they are exposed to, they are given a choice they do not otherwise have. And the choice is to reject hostility towards other road users.

We need to teach children supportive driving attitudes and concepts.

These exercises and activities will be welcomed by parents and teachers everywhere, indeed by all who love children enough to want to protect them against absorbing road rage. They are given the opportunity and the assistance to avoid becoming the next generation of road ragers.

Parents and teachers can use these activities as a fun and valuable learning exchange with their children, instructing them in good driving concepts.

Authority figures of love and respect need to tell them that supportive driving is your ideal, and that it has to do with character, responsibility, and morality.

Urge them to love this ideal. Let them fill out the Driving Awareness Form, then discuss the results with them. Use this activity as a countermeasure to your own aggressive driving, to which you probably have been exposing them every day for years!! (See the survey results here.)

Teachers will also find these materials helpful in planning their lessons and activities on traffic safety, proper road behavior, and good passenger behaviors and attitudes. Please send us your Lesson Plans and ideas so that they can be shared with everyone on DrDriving's site. Email: letters@DrDriving.org

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Part 1: Defining the Concept of Aggressive Driving


City and State:___________________ Age_____ Circle one:    Boy......   Girl

1. Think of the kids you see every day. How aggressive are they as far you can tell? Examples of aggressive behaviors: hitting, throwing, attacking, threatening, blocking the way, refusing to return something, yelling and cussing at someone, and doing other things that are mean, scary, or unfriendly. Circle one of the numbers to show how aggressive are the kids you know.


2. Now think of comic books and TV cartoons. Many of them show things that are aggressive, like hitting, shooting, attacking, breaking, hurting, yelling at, insulting, doing bad things to other people. All of these things are called aggressive. How aggressive are your own favorite comic books or TV cartoons? Circle one of the numbers to show how aggressive are your favorite characters.


3. While riding in a car or bus, you may have heard the driver get mad at another driver. Think about the last few times you were a passenger in someone's car or bus: how mad do the drivers sometimes get? Circle one of the numbers to show how mad they get while driving.


4. Try to remember: do you sometimes get mad at drivers on the road when you ride in a car or bus? How mad do you get at those drivers?


5. Now think of this: You're being driven somewhere, and you're anxious because you don't want to get there late. There is a car ahead that's going pretty slow, and there is no way to pass it. Well, is it all right you think to tailgate the car? This means to follow very very close behind so the driver would be scared and speed up. Do you think one should do that or not? Circle what you think is the right answer:

    1 No, you must never tailgate someone.

    2 Yes, it's all right to tailgate someone who is going too slow.

    3 Yes, you can tailgate someone who is going too slow when you are in a hurry and it's not your fault that you're late.

6. Now think of this: You're being driven somewhere, and you're anxious because you don't want to get there late. Is it all right to cheat a little and break some of the rules, like going through a red light instead of waiting until it turns green? Circle what you think is the right answer:

    1 Yes, you can go through a red light if you very carefully check first to see if there are no other cars coming at that time.

    2 No, you must never go through a red light just because you're in a big hurry, even if there are no other cars coming.

    3 Well, it actually depends on whether you're a good enough driver. Inexperienced drivers should not go through a red light, even if they're in a hurry, but it's all right for experienced drivers who really know what they're doing, as long as they watch out for other cars coming, and as long as they don't do it all the time.

 7. In your opinion, who is a really good driver? Circle the one you think would be the best:

    1 A driver who gets there in a shorter time than other drivers.

    2 A driver who gets there without taking any chances and is always safe, even if it takes longer to get there.

    3 A former race car driver who gets there faster than other drivers.

8. What do you think about seat belts? Who cares most about wearing seat belts? Circle one:

1 Me   2 My Mom   3 My Dad   4 None of us cares about seat belts



Part 2: Driving Observation Exercise

Step 1) First, read the entire instructions. Then get the OK from your parents and other adults who drive you to places. Be sure they agree to it before you start. That's very important!

Step 2) Take this Form with you in the car, along with something to write with. Be sure to show this to the driver. That's very important!

Step 3) Put a checkmark for each thing on the list every time you see it happening. This way, you can later count the number of checkmarks to see how many times something happened. Some of the things are about the driver, and some about you.

Step 4) After the ride, count the checkmarks for each item.

Step 5) Discuss the results with the driver, your parents, or other adults.

Now here is the list of things to observe next time you're in a car:

Time (start of trip):_______Purpose and destination: __________________ ___________________________________________________________

(1) The driver yells or uses bad language.


(2) You get scared by how the person drives.


(3) You wish the driver would hurry up and go faster.


(4) The driver talks bad about another driver.


(5) You feel that the driver is being too aggressive.


(6) The driver yells or gets mad at you or at another passenger.


(7) The driver waves or smiles to thank another driver.


(8) The driver is being nice to another driver.


(9) The driver is weaving through traffic, and jumping lanes.


(10) The driver is going over the posted speed limit.


(11) Other:__________________________________.


(12) Other: Use the back or a second sheet.

Time at end of trip:_______ Total time for the ride: ________minutes.

Please note: It's a good idea to fill out this form on more than just one trip. Try several trips and see if they are similar.

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Part 3: Good and bad passenger behaviors


Take this list with you in the car. Observe what you normally do on a trip. Are you a good passenger or bad? On your next trip, see how many of the bad behaviors you can stop doing, and how many of the good behaviors you can start doing.



____ making noise, being loud, yelling

____ poking, pinching, pushing

____ fighting, hair pulling

____ changing seats,  not wearing seat       belts

____ throwing something out the window

____ sticking your hand out the window

____ making faces at another driver

____ urging the driver to go faster

____ complaining about the traffic

____ other: ________________________

____ other: ________________________


____ sitting quietly, acting calm

____ wearing your seat belt

____ not distracting the driver

____ helping the driver read road signs

____ learning the route

____ talking to the driver calmly

____ observing the driver's actions

____ observing road conditions

____ thanking the driver for being safe

____ other: _______________________

____ other: ________________________

Letter from a Reader:

March 17, 2000

"I know that Hollywood is the ruler of negative driving behavior style. As an adult viewer I am pretty amaze by the things I see on tv/movies. I sometimes wonder what would it be like going 100 mph, weaving in and out of traffic, chasing another car, and crashing at the end without getting hurt. If I was able to imagine that, then just think what could go in a child's mind. Probably, many imaginations that are unrealistic. Therefore, it is important that we educated our younger generations and distinguish between realistic and unrealistic.

I am convince to say that Dr. James was right when he said at the beginning of this semester that we learn to drive from the time we are riding along with out parents in our car seat. I've notice that my three and half year old niece is aware with her surrounding when we are to driving somewhere. She corrects my older brother in times that he may be in a bad mood and everything on the road irritates him. She tells him, "don't yell daddy" (at other drivers) or "daddy don't get angry at mommy." She knows this because my brother talks to her at times when they are driving. I think that talking to our young generation have a great impact. And educating them should start from the time they can walk. I am pretty proud at my niece, because she disprove my belief that children under five can not think for themselves what's right and wrong. "


Part 4: Aggressive driving behaviors and their consequences

Take this list with you in the car. Observe what you normally do on a trip. Are you a good passenger or bad? On your next trip, see how many of the bad behaviors you can stop doing, and how many of the good behaviors you can start doing.



____ not signaling a lane change

____ going over the posted speed limit

____ going through a red light

____ hogging the passing lane

____ tailgating or following too close

____ yelling at other drivers, name-        calling

____ making an insulting gesture

____ making an illegal U-turn

____ yelling at passengers or            pedestrians

____ revving the engine (vroom,                  vroom)

____ driving after drinking alcohol

____ other: ________________________

____ other: ________________________


____ being in a bad mood

____ getting angry and violent

____ increasing stress and blood pressure

____ lowering the immune system

____ feeling disconnected, alienated

____ feeling competitive and defensive

____ being impatient and taking bad risks

____ getting into a crash and being injured

____ going to jail or losing one's license

____ teaching your children to do it

____ weakening your conscience or           morality

____ other: _______________________

____ other: ________________________


Part 5: Drivers Behaving Badly on TV (DBB Ratings)


Before they become drivers, children are exposed to thousands of scenes on TV depicting drivers behaving badly. It is desirable to make children more aware of this exposure by discussing it with them. Parents and teachers can use the following specific examples that are familiar to their children. They were collected by DrDriving's traffic psychology students at the University of Hawaii. After discussing some of these, you might encourage your children to make their own observations while watching TV and keeping a diary or notebook. Teachers can use this activity as homework and class discussion afterwards. Please send your results to DrDriving so they may be added to this list. The Evaluation Activity Sheet for Drivers Behaving Badly (DBB) appears below this table.

Drivers Behaving Badly



  • The power rangers have just gotten into their racecars and are speeding across a dry lakebed.
  • The tires are kicking up huge amounts of dust and particles into the air.
  • The cars are also driving over trees and bushes.
  • The cars seem to fly and join up with each other to form a huge robot.
  • The cars in this cartoon are just running over anything in their path

Cartoon:  Power Rangers Turbo
October 14, 1997

This cartoon is geared for young children and the material is presented in a format for a child to view, but the hidden meaning in the cartoon plays on the thinking of a child. It is appealing to the child in order to get the child to want the toy that comes with the cartoon. It is also showing the child that they can do anything as long as they are fighting with someone.   Contributed by Ryan S.


Drivers Behaving Badly



  • They are chasing each other at a fast speed on bumpy roads.
  • Nobody is wearing seat belts.
  • They are shooting at each other while standing in the back area of the jeep.
  • All jeeps are jumping and making leaps off of small hills and small cliff edges, flipping the jeeps and crashing.
  • Tarzan jumped from his jeep to the next jeep trying to fight off the bad guy.
  • Weaving in and out of each other trying to avoid collision.

TV Series:  Tarzan, July 20, 1997

This may influence some drivers to think off roading is fun and jeeps like that are easy to handle. In actuality, off roading takes a lot of skill and knowledge of your car and the roads. Off roading is not that bad, but this scene shows them fighting, shooting, and racing each other. This is very bad driving examples that many children, adolescence, and even adults may think is cool. This is another chase scene where the good guys always wins and no one gets into any serious trouble.  Contributed by Jennifer K.


Drivers Behaving Badly



  • Her mind was preoccupied with her romantic relationship and she was not concentrating on driving.
  • While changing lanes she almost hits a bicyclist and shows little concern or remorse.
  • She swerves to the right, sideswipes several parked cars and keeps driving.

Movie and TV Series:   Clueless, Oct 10, 1997


She was extremely wealthy and had a surreal life. Still, these images can create the impression that driving is not a serious subject.  By initially allowing his daughter to drive without the accompaniment of a licensed driver, the father in this movie sets a very poor standard. His lax attitude toward driving would undoubtedly affect his daughter's opinions as well.   Contributed by Kendra M.

Before they become drivers, children are exposed to thousands of scenes on TV depicting drivers behaving badly.  It is desirable to make children more aware of this exposure by discussing it with them.  Parents and teachers can use the following specific examples that are familiar to their children.   They were collected by DrDriving's traffic psychology students at the University of Hawaii.  After discussing some of these, you might encourage your children to make their own observations while watching TV and keeping a diary or notebook.  Teachers can use this activity as homework and class discussion afterwards.  Please send your results to DrDriving so they may be added to this list.  

The Evaluation Activity Sheet for Drivers Behaving Badly (DBB) appears below this table.

This Table is a clickable Index of actual observations made while watching television.  Each observer also contributes a Rating Form.  These examples can help you create your own DBB Rating Form.


    Flirting With Disasters
    My Fellow Americans
    Beavis and Butt-Head Do            America
    Top Gun
    Top Gun
    The Chase
    Days of Thunder
    Days of Thunder
    Days of Thunder
    Days of Thunder
    Independence Day
    White Men Can't Jump
    Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
    Nine Months
    The Rock
    The Rock
    The Toxic Avenger
    Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
    Jerry Mcguire
    Thelma and Louise
    My Best Friend's Wedding
    Terminator 2
    Terminator 2
    American Graffiti
    Adventures in Babysitting
    The Saint
    Golden Eye
    Leaving Las Vegas
    Grosspoint Blank
    Liar Liar
    Liar Liar
    Liar Liar
    A Scent Of A Woman
    Father's Day
    Fried Green Tomatoes
    101 Dalmatians
    Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
    Toy Story 
    Casper: A Spirited Being
    Herbie Goes Bananas
    Night on Earth

Misc. Television

   World's Greatest Crashes 
   World's Most Exciting Police          Chases
   World's Scariest Police              Chases



     The Simpsons
     The Simpsons
     The Simpsons
     The Simpsons
     The Simpsons
     The Simpsons
     The Simpsons
     The Simpsons
     The Simpsons
     Jonny Quest
     Sailor Moon
     Adventures of Batman &             Robin
     Adventures of Batman &           Superman
     Dragon Ball Z
     The Road Runner
     Goof Troop
     Tiny Toon Adventures
     Tiny Toon Adventures
     Tiny Toon Adventures
     George of the Jungle
     Power Rangers Turbo
     Power Rangers Turbo
     Power Rangers Turbo
     Darkwing Duck
     Sylvester & Tweety                      Mysteries
     Pee-Wee's Playhouse
     Pee-Wee's Big Adventure
     Speed Racer
     Speed Racer
     Speed Racer
     G.I. Joe
     Huckleberry Hound
     The Mighty Ducks
     Secret Squirrel and                 Morocco Mole
     Rocky and Bulwinkle


NASCAR Winston Cup

Music Videos

Reba McEntire 
Suzy Boggess
Alannis Morrisette
Alannis Morrisette

Children's Shows

    Suzy Q
    Power Rangers Turbo
    Power Rangers Turbo


Jack in the Box
Nissan Quest Mini Van
Nissan Quest Mini Van
Nissan Sedan
Nissan Ultima
Nissan Altima
Nissan Altima
Nissan Pathfinder
Dodge Neon
Dodge Neon
Dodge Neon
Chevy Blazer
Sony Recorder Mini Disc
Goodyear Tires
Goodyear Tires
Goodyear Tire Eagle F1
Goodyear F1 Tires
Power Wheels
Syntac Motor Oil
Penzoil Motor Oil
Penzoil Motor Oil
Penzoil Motor Oil
Isuzu Trooper
Shell Service Station
Cadillac Eldorado
Tyco Slammer
Seatbelt Dummies
Pontiac Grand Am
Budget Rent-a-Car
    Ford Contour
  Ford Ranger
  Ford Mustang
  Ford Motors
    Ford F-Series Truck
    Nissan Quest
    GMC 4X4
    Mazda MPV
 Jeans (clothing) commercial

TV Series

Dukes of Hasize="3ard
Dukes of Hasize="3ard Highlander
Silk Stalkings
Moesha   Magnum PI
Early Edition
Sweet Valley High
Pensacola: Wings of Gold
Viper Sabrina the Teenage Witch









Bad Habit Song
By Offspring
But when I'm in my car don't give me no crap.
Cause the slightest thing and I just might snap.
When I go driving I stay in my lane, but getting cut off makes me insane...
Well they say the roads a dangerous place.
If you flip me off  I'm the danger  you'll face.
Original here

ritical.jpg (6869 bytes)


Part 6: Driving Informatics


The phrase "driving informatics" was coined in 1998 by Dr. Diane Nahl, Associate Professor of Information Science, and refers to collecting and organizing information about driving behavior and drivers. Its major topic categories are listed in these directories of links:

Informatics  |Topics  ||  Information ||  see also Facts & Research


Special Exercise:

Review the contrasts between anti-social and civilized and explain the difference in each example. Show how they differ in terms of the focus.







They're jerks!

I'm feeling very impatient today!

How can they do this to me!

I'm scared and angry!

They make me so mad when they do this!

I make myself so mad when they do this.

I just want him to know how I feel!

It's not worth it.

They better stay out of my way!

I need to recognize that everybody has to get to their destination.

How can they be so stupid talking on the phone while driving!

I need to be extra careful around these drivers.

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Part 7: Safety Facts


Safety facts quoted from DrDriving's site on Driving Facts

In 1994, 40,676 people lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes, an increase of 1.3 percent from 1993.

An average of 111 persons died each day in motor vehicle crashes in 1994 - one every 13 minutes.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for every age from 6 through 28 years old (based on 1991 data).

Vehicle occupants comprised almost 84 percent of fatalities in 1994; the remaining 16 percent were pedestrians, pedal-cyclists and other non-occupants.

From 1982 through 1994, it is estimated that safety belts saved 65,290 lives (9,175 in 1994).

In 1994, it is estimated that 308 children under age 5 were saved as a result of child restraint use. An estimated 2,655 lives were saved by child restraints from 1982 through 1994. In 1994, 47 percent of occupants of passenger cars and 54 percent of occupants of light trucks involved in fatal crashes were unrestrained.

16 year old drivers are more than 20 times as likely to have a crash as the general population of drivers." American Academy of Pediatrics "Motor vehicle crashes a re the leading cause of deaths in 15 to 20 year olds." National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

NHTSA estimates that 518 lives were saved by the use of motorcycle helmets in 1994. 11% (4,544) of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities reported in 1994 involved heavy trucks (gross vehicle weight rating greater than 26,000 pounds).

16-24 year olds represent 24% of total fatalities compared to 8% from ages 1-15. 43% for ages 25-54. 24% for ages 55 and over.

On a per population basis, drivers under the age of 25 had the highest rate of involvement in fatal crashes among all age groups.

The male fatal crash involvement rate per 100,000 population was 3 times as high as for female drivers in 1994.

22% of male drivers involved in fatal crashes were intoxicated compared to 11% of female drivers.

37% of female drivers involved in fatal crashes were unrestrained at the time of the crash compared to 47% for male drivers involved in fatal crashes.

In 1994, there were 5,472 pedestrian fatalities which represented 13% of total fatalities.

On average, a pedestrian is killed in a motor vehicle crash every 96 minutes.

More than one-third of children between 5 and 9 years old killed in motor vehicle crashes were pedestrians.

In 6% of the crashes, both the driver and the pedestrian were intoxicated.

802 pedalcyclists were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 1994. (that’s 2% of total fatalities).

For 72% of the pedalcyclists killed in motor vehicle crashes in 1994, police reported one or more errors or other factors related to the cyclist's behavior. The factor most often noted was "failure to yield right-of-way," followed by "walking with or against traffic" and improper crossing of the roadway or intersection." The factors most often noted for drivers were "driving too fast for conditions or exceeding the speed limit" (17%), "vision obscured" (14 percent) and "driver inattentiveness (talking, eating, etc.)" (13%).

Only cigarette smoking and heart disease kill more people than automobile accidents in America.

Car accidents are the No. 1 cause of death and injury among children.

Alcohol was involved in 41% of all traffic fatalities in 1994, resulting in 17,000 deaths.

Each alcohol-related death costs our nation an average of 37 years of life lost--in contrast to 16 years for cancer and 12 years for heart disease.

There has been a steady increase in DWI rates and alcohol-related fatal crashes among women, especially younger women.

DWI or DUI accounted for about 1.4 million arrests in 1994, about the same as arrests for larceny or theft, or arrests for drug abuse.

In 1996, about 35% of college students report having driven after drinking alcoholic beverages.

More than 50% of the people jailed for DWI are repeat offenders.

Raising the minimum drinking age to 21 has been credited with saving 15,000 lives so far. Some States saw a decrease of up to 38% in young motorists deaths.

States that enacted and enforced an ALR law (Administrative License Revocation) experienced a decline of up to 9% in drunk driving crashes.

Research shows that parents tend to seriously underestimate their children's drinking.

It is believed that police sobriety checkpoints are one of the most effective measures police can use to deter drunk driving. Other methods include:

supporting local chapters of MADD, SADD, RID
supporting judicial efforts to combat impaired driving
promoting DD or "Designated Driver" programs
getting involved in National Drunk and Drugged Driving (3D) Prevention Month activities every December
supporting zero-tolerance laws and other anti-DWI laws in your community.

The cost of motor vehicle crashes and injuries in 1990 was $138 billion, representing the present value of lifetime economic costs for 45,000 fatalities, 5.4 million non-fatal injuries, and 28 million damaged vehicles. Components of this total cost include:

property damage at 33%
workplace and household productivity at 37%
medical and rehabilitation at 10%
legal and insurance at 20%
Per fatality cost:
Workplace productivity........................$510,000
Household productivity......................... 113,000
Medical & emergency........................... 5,900
Legal................................................. 80,000
Premature funeral................................ 3,400
Property damage................................. 10,000
Total.................................................. $785,000

Nearly 100,000 pedestrians are injured in motor vehicle accidents each year in the United States, with a majority of these accidents taking place in urban areas.

"Highway crashes cost the Nation $150.5 billion a year. We estimate that about one-third of these crashes and about two-thirds of the resulting fatalities can be attributed to behavior associated with aggressive driving." NHTSA's Administrator Dr. Ricardo Martinez

The risk of getting in a wreck quadruples when drivers are talking on the phone and have not trained themselves for this new skill.

To reduce your chances of getting into a road rage fight, let pushy drivers have their way.

Male drivers of all age groups are involved in more crashes than their female counterparts (Table X). Crash Involvement per 1,000 Licensed Drivers in by Age and Sex, 1988 - 90

Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for children and adults age 6 to 28, and the leading cause of long-term disability for all age groups. Last year, 41,000 died in car crashes in the United States. Another 3.5 million suffered injuries that ranged from sprained ankles to life-long paralysis.

Britain's Automobile Association is examining the use of aroma therapy to reduce road rage through a device that heats pleasant-smelling oils and wafts them throughout the car to help keep the driver calm.

The phrase "road rage" officially entered the English language in 1997 when it was first listed in the New Words edition of the OED (Oxford English Dictionary).

Human action was the leading cause of accidents on British Columbia roads in 1995, accounting for 68 per cent of all crashes. Of the types of human action that led to crashes, driving without due care was No. 1. It accounted for 27 per cent of those accidents. Speeding, in contrast, caused 17 per cent and tailgating caused only 12 per cent.  

More than 2 million Americans died in car crashes during the first century of our car society (1896-1996).

Above Safety facts quoted from DrDriving's site on Driving Facts


Part 8: Road Rage Formula

by Dr. Leon James

Why is aggressive driving happening now?  

Aggressive driving is not extreme any more; it has become a cultural norm on the highway. We're born into road rage; we inherit it from our parents. We acquire it automatically as children from adult drivers, cartoons, television, and commercials. Our culture condones the expression of hostility when we feel justified, indignant, stressed, or frustrated. Proof of these points may be found in this document.

At the same time drivers aren't trained for emotional intelligence to be able to manage both lifestyle stress and provocations in traffic.

The Formula for Road Rage:

more driver interactions (more cars, less space), greater diversity of drivers
cultural norms of disrespect condoning hostility
aggressive driving and road rage battles

The average number of driver interactions during an average commute of 30 mins. has steadily climbed due to traffic congestion. Thousands of interactions with hundreds of cars in a half-hour period create new challenges for drivers. Any one of these mini-exchanges can go wrong when the context is hostile. There are now 125 million drivers on the road every day in the U.S. They represent a tremendous diversity of competence, style, and purpose. The hundreds of drivers one encounters in a traffic half-hour puts us into contact with this diversity. It is unrealistic to expect homogeneity of driving styles. Drivers differ in gender, age, experience, familiarity with the road, physical health and condition, mood, and why they are on the road. Not all drivers are in a hurry. Not all drivers are alert. Not all drivers are competent. Not all drivers know how to coordinate with the rest of traffic. Not all drivers want to.

And so the 125 million drivers on the road every day need to learn how to drive with each other, how to get along, how to be more tolerant of each other's mistakes and varieties of mood and desire for cooperation. Driving Psychology gives drivers the psychological tools by which they can acquire skills of tolerance for one another. It takes compassion, fairness, rationality, and altruism. By developing these skills as drivers, we also become more valuable citizens and more worthy human beings.

The formula above shows that aggressive driving is the result of hostile norms in combination with more traffic. It is not more traffic by itself that causes aggressive driving.

Here is the rest of the formula:

more driver interactions (more cars, less space), greater diversity of drivers
cultural norms of respect promoting civility and community
supportive, safe, and sane driving

Definition of Road Rage:

the habit of aggressive driving as a permanent style of behaving behind the wheel. There are three types:

1. Verbal Road Rage: yelling, cussing, gesturing, honking, insulting
2. Quiet Road Rage: complaining, rushing, competing, resisting
3. Epic Road Rage: cutting off, blocking, chasing, fighting, shooting

Lacking in emotional intelligence training, drivers operate on the false "trigger theory" of anger:

"I can't help it when they provoke me. Besides, they're doing something wrong. I can't just sit back and take it."

This attitude involves righteous indignation that gives us permission to retaliate because we feel wronged. It's easy to "lose it" when a "hot spot" is stepped on, and out comes the unthinking gesture, the uncontrolled temper, the comic book fantasies of punishment and mayhem.

Emotional Intelligence Exercises
or How Not to Be Hostile When Stressed and Upset

1. Self-witnessing behind the wheel:

Pretend you're giving a play-by-play broadcast of your driving--what you're doing, thinking, and feeling. Speak all your thoughts out loud. This will let you be more aware of your driving personality.

2. Shrinking Your Emotional Territory:

Talk to yourself. Argue with yourself. What is it that you really care about? Examine your assumptions, your anger theory, your driving philosophy.

3. Acting As-If

Pretend you're a supportive driver even when you feel like being competitive and aggressive. When you feel like yelling, sing instead--or make funny animal sounds (suggestion by LauraLee Carman in her book Rainbows In My Soup, BookPartners Inc., Wilsonville, Oregon) in the car. By pretending to be an Aloha spirit driver, you discover you like it--cool-headed, hassle-free driving. All right!

Three Levels of Emotional Intelligence as a Driver

1. Oppositional Driving (Aggressive Driving; Road Rage Habit)
2. Defensive Driving (Be on guard. Assume the worst.)
3. Supportive Driving (Act tolerant. Be forgiving. Be helpful.)

Defensive driving is a good strategy, but you can't let defensive driving slide into aggressive driving. The best defense is not a good offense, in this case. Factors that allow defensive driving to become oppositional:

rushing mania (getting there as fast as possible)
righteous indignation (They deserve to be punished)
comic book persona (The Avenger, Jekyl & Hyde, Mad Max)
culture that condones hostility (cartoons, commercials, movies)

Anatomy of Road Rage

Step 1: Provocation and Escalation

It takes two to make a fight. Don't respond. Don't engage. Don't up the ante. Swallow your pride. Choose "the road less traveled."

Containment Techniques:

Count to 10.
Make animal sounds (suggestion by LauraLee Carman in her book Rainbows In My Soup, BookPartners Inc., Wilsonville, Oregon) .
Act as-if you're not affected.
Give yourself pep talks.

Step 2: Recovery and Remedy

If you fall into a hostile exchange, know how to back out, reverse, back pedal. You need to do damage control.

Containment Techniques:

Refrain from aggravating things.
Come out swinging positive. Apologize. See it from their side as well, not just your own.
Think supportive (vs. combative).
Acts of Declaration of Road Rage War
Honking at someone.
Giving an offensive hand gesture.
Yelling at someone or swearing.
Revving your engine to indicate displeasure.
Shining your high beams in retaliation.
Deliberately cutting someone off.
Braking suddenly to punish a tailgater.
Blocking a lane.


No.33C7               CARRworkbook
                Children Against Road Rage
         Drivers Behaving Badly on TV--Activities To Do

1. In a classroom or family setting, you can discuss various TV programs and commercials. Have everyone contribute to examples of Drivers Behaving Badly. Discuss each one in terms of its risks and its potential for unconscious imitation by drivers.

2. In a family or group setting, you can view videos or TV and point out scenes of Drivers Behaving Badly. Discuss their potential for lulling us to minimize risk and injury from certain events, giving us a distorted image of danger and injury. Some of the things you can point out that happen frequently are the following. Use this list to identify and record scenes of DBB.

  1. taking the eyes of the road (count the seconds)
  2. hitting a parked car or object and not stopping
  3. giving chase
  4. riding up a rocky mountain or river bed with large boulders
  5. jumping out of the car while still in motion
  6. yelling at passengers, other drivers, pedestrians
  7. driving and drinking
  8. driving in a confused mental state
  9. going through red light when in a hurry
  10. passengers fighting or partying passengers urging driver to speed and take risks
  11. children behind the wheel, driving trying to get away from a police car with sirens on
  12. chasing an ambulance or emergency vehicle
  13. driving off in anger, burning rubber
  14. driving through traffic in a reckless manner
  15. joking about running over someone
  16. deliberately running over someone
  17. Other: ____________________________________
  18. Other: ____________________________________

3. Encourage children to keep a TV log of Drivers Behaving Badly by writing down the date, the program or commercial, and the event. Take time to discuss with them the implications of uncritically watching thousands of such events before you get to be a driver.

4. Have children of all ages make drawings or posters of Drivers Behaving Badly scenes and have them discuss the consequences of watching these scenes uncritically.


For additional information, visit the Web at
DrDriving.org or e-mail DrDriving@DrDriving.org
TEE CARDS Copyright 1999 Dr. Leon James and Dr. Diane Nahl
Do not use without permission

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Part 9: Driving slogans that children can share with their parents



Practicing patience in the car
Will ease your mind and take you far.


Drive smart,
Put a smile in your heart.


Ask yourself if it's right for you to tailgate.
How do you feel when someone tailgates you?


They made a mistake?
Give them a break!


Listen in on your thinking behind the wheel.
Do you fuss and cuss and make a big deal?
That's unhealthy for your body and mind.
Drive with Aloha toward all humankind.


Do you feel locked into traffic, unable to move?
Worried you'll go crazy if you can't get out of it?
Try some quick mood changers:

* start singing

* make silly animal sounds

* listen to music that calms you

* tune in to talk radio

* put a talking book in your tape player

* enjoy a moment to yourself

* mentally plan a vacation trip

* look around and enjoy the scene

* become one with the traffic flow

* count your blessings


Just go with the flow
No matter how slow


Drive with Aloha Spirit.
Let someone go ahead.


Keep children safe in cars.
Always fasten their seatbelts.
Always use car seats securely in place in the back seat.


Rushing, tailgating, and lane hopping?
Relax and play follow the leader,
Resist the urge to be an impatient speeder.


Enjoy the journey.
If another driver bothers you,
Get out of the way. Be smart,
Turn down challenges.
Set a good example.
Don't try to teach other drivers a lesson.


Make it a safe trip.
Keep a cool head, an alert eye, and a steady hand.


You're in traffic -- driving like a maniac.
You moan and groan -- are you anger prone?
Give up your bad mood -- it's no fun to be rude.
Take things in stride -- enjoy the ride.


Take it easy, why drive yourself crazy?
Keep peace in the car and on the road.


You can learn to love traffic.
Enjoy the journey. It's part of your life.


Treat other drivers
As you'd want them to treat your son or daughter.
Mahalo for your kokua on the road.


Frustrated? Upset? Angry?
Quick -- make silly animal sounds.
They'll help you calm down.


Think bad, feel bad, be bad.
Think nice, feel nice, be nice.
It's your choice!


Don't fight -- Drive right.
Don't compete -- Just follow along.
Don't do wrong -- Sing a song!
Don't swear -- Learn to care!


Safe Stopping Distance Means


How close is the car in front of you?
Count thousand-and-one, thousand-and-two, thousand-and-three.  That's the only way to avoid a collision.


The driver of this car
is dedicated to non-violence


Avoid win-lose situations.
Look out for win-win opportunities.
Help other drivers along the way.


Avoid the hassle of left lane driving
Because that's where road rage is thriving.


Have you tried the right lane lately?
It's nice and relaxing.


Try life in the right lane
It's slower, safer, smarter, nicer


Don't let your bad mood do the driving.
Think kind thoughts and
Drive with Aloha in your heart.


Reason with yourself: Anger is unhealthy
Forgive and live!


Don't think of it as being cut off.
Think of it as helping someone in trouble.


You don't feel like being nice?
Just act as-if you are -- and you will be.


Preserve the spirit of community
Give a courtesy wave to reward civility


Does it seem like the other lane is always faster?
Be safe and stay in your lane
You'll get there just as quick.


Hey, car lovers!
Respect one another.


Go ahead, make your day
Be a nice driver all the way


You're in Hawaii -- relax!
It's time for vacation driving
Hassle-free driving
Aloha Spirit driving


Let someone go ahead of you.
Brake for people on foot.
Avoid blocking the passing lane.
Resist following too close.
Make a full stop when required.
Go slow around the bend.
Signal ahead of time.
Do these things and you're a good driver.


Driving defensively is smart.
Driving altruistically is even smarter.


Careless driving is bad.
Defensive driving is better.
Aloha Spirit driving is best.


Drive under the influence of awareness
It may save a life


How much are you driving over the speed limit right now?
Is it safe to do that?


Do you see someone driving at the speed limit?
They're doing a good thing.
They're saving lives.


Did you know that most traffic accidents are caused by driver error?
Please watch out and be alert.


Do you feel frustrated in traffic?
Are you impatient?
Take a deep breath
There's time to slow down.


Is your radio playing very loud?
Have a heart and be considerate of your neighbors on the road.


Last year more than 40,000 Americans died in traffic accidents.
Almost 4 million people were seriously injured on the road.
Don't take risks! Protect each other.


Did you know that 25% of the children who die between ages 5 to 14, die in traffic accidents?
Please watch out for keiki.


People are walking up ahead.
Approaching fast is threatening to them.
Be gentle and your car will be too.



Are you having negative thoughts about another driver?
Do you feel justified that you're "in the right"?
Then you're in a state of road rage!


To back out of road rage start singing
Or making silly animal sounds.
Then give yourself pep talks about:
Human rights, noble feelings, smarter choices.
Acceptance of diversity, forgiveness, giving people greater latitude.
Think like an Aloha Spirit driver, and you'll act like one!


Anger released is anger increased.
Anger transformed is anger dissolved.
Anger and indignation weaken your immune system and your heart.
Tolerance and humor diffuse anger, reduce stress, and keep you alert.
You can make smarter choices and enjoy hassle-free, safer, more pleasant rides
And feel part of the community of drivers.


Part 10: Instructional CARtoons amd Vignettes


What Our Children Really Learn From Us

The first part of this cartoon shows little Tommy pretending to drive.

Above two CARRtoons submitted by Sean Marrs who has a bunch more here

Instructional CARRtoon Vignettes

1-2 Jekyl/Hyde Driver
Highway scene. One car is a male driver with a pleasant face. He's visualizing this: He's in traffic on the same highway, but he's driving an oversized, armored, battle-ready car, and his face looks fiendish.

1-5 Waving Sabotage
Inside a car driving on a street. Woman passenger: "Come on, he let you in, so wave at the nice man. Wave at him. Hurry he's looking." Male Driver: "I don't feel like it. It's too much trouble. I feel stupid doing it. Anyway, it's too late."

1-11 Driving Statistics
Lecture hall. Lectern sign reads: "Traffic Psychology Lecture" Speaker says: "...40,000 deaths, 5 million serious injuries, 55 million stressed out drivers, 722 million aggressive incidents, 132 billion dollars in economic cost, and 5 drivers every year who are nice and peaceful."

1-13 Legal Speed Limit
Highway scene. One car has rigged an inclined platform in the front and at the back, so other cars can pass by rolling over the roof of his car. One car is just rolling off in the front, while a second car is on top of the roof. The male driver explains to a male passenger: "I got the idea from a TV cartoon. Now I can maintain the legal speed limit and no one bothers me."

1-14 Sweep Them All Away

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

1-17 Lead Foot
Urban street scene, maybe a school or hospital zone . Police car has stopped a car and is looking through the window as if trying to see the driver's foot. The driver says: "It wasn't ME speeding, officer. It was my lead foot!"

1-19 Bathroom Stop
Couple driving on highway with "Just Married " sign on the back bumper. He's driving. She's thinking: "I've asked him three times to stop so I can go to the bathroom. And he's still not stopping. One of the 10 warning signs that the honeymoon is over." Bottom of the cartoon says in strong letters: "INTRA-VEHICULAR RELATIONS"

1-21 You Didn't Wave
Highway scene. Two drivers are being loaded into the ambulance on stretchers. Highway patrolman is taking notes in front of onlookers. One of them says: "They were knocking each other out when I arrived. One guy kept screaming, "You didn't wave!" while the other guy was yelling, "I waved! I waved!"

1-28 Drivers Confess
Highway scene. Cars have bumper stickers. "Warning! Cowboy Driver -- Keep your Distance"; "Wiley Coyote -- Now You See Me, Soon You Won't"; "Paranoic Driver -- Avoid Appearing Suspicious"; "I'm Always In a Rush -- God Help Me!"

1-31 Speeding Excuse
Female officer is writing out a ticket on the road shoulder. The female passenger in the car says to the driver: "What happened to your New Year's resolution to stop speeding?" He says: "I said I'd stop speeding when your grandmother is riding with us. This is different."

2-20 Road Auction
Highway scene. Right lane is backed up in the exit lane. Male driver in the middle lane in a business suit and hat is leaning over, holding up a scribbled sign: "$20 to the driver who'll let me in -- To collect call 222-3344."

3-1 Gas Pedals, Not Brakes
A male driver speeding and careening, while his terrified female passenger holding on to her seat, says: "Watch out! Why don't you slow down!" The male driver with a cynical face says: "Driving is about gas pedals, not brakes."

3-3 What Kind of Driver Are You
Street intersection scene. Cars turning. One car is making a left turn illegally into a one way street going the wrong way. There is a big sign saying: "NO LEFT TURN" and a big directional arrow pointing to the right. The male driver says to the male passenger: "'Course I'm an excellent driver. I hardly speed and I've never been arrested for DUI." Bottom Caption says: "DELUSIONS OF ADEQUACY"

3-8 Saintly Driver
Restaurant scene. Round table with several people looking up at the speaker who is leaning on a podium that reads: "Reformed Drivers Anonymous" Speaker says: "How many random acts of kindness did you do on your drive over here?" They respond in turn, with the person closest to the podium going first. "Four." "Two." "Five." "Seven." "Three." The last person has a saint's halo and says: "One hundred and twenty two."

3-10 Canine Parking Lot Graduate
Busy parking lot scene with no empty spaces except one. A Great Dane is sitting in it preventing car A from taking the space. Behind car A is car B with a smiling woman driver who thinks: "Good Girl. You keep that space for Mommy now."


See book chapter on CARR


See the AAA Foundation Research on Aggressive Driving

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