Road Rage and Aggressive Driving: Steering Clear of Highway Warfare

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9781573928465: Road Rage and Aggressive Driving: Steering Clear of Highway Warfare

Do you drive with stress and frustration? Do you frequently complain about other drivers or get involved in hostile interactions with other motorists? Are you afraid for your teenage drivers in this climate of highway warfare? We're in the midst of an escalating epidemic of aggressive driving, which eats up 250 billion dollars a year in economic cost and causes the misery associated with 6 million injuries every year. Now the government has declared war on road rage with tough new laws that can land people in jail for behaviors they're used to doing every day.

Traffic psychology educators Dr. Leon James and Dr. Diane Nahl trace the aggressive driving problem to its roots in childhood when child passengers imbibe their parents' aggressiveness towards other motorists and their cynicism towards regulations and the law. By the time teenagers begin to drive they've been exposed to years of media portrayals of the fun and excitement of aggressive driving with no serious consequences. The authors argue that road rage and aggressive driving are common traffic emotions experienced by the vast majority of drivers.

This authoritative book-the first to synthesize the subject of aggressive driving-presents conclusions of recent studies, highlights citizen activism, and summarizes legislative and police initiatives. Besides vivid anecdotal evidence and personal stories of typical road rage incidents that we have all experienced, James and Nahl present self-tests that readers can use to estimate their own road rage tendency, and they prescribe activities to help every driver learn self-improvement and self-awareness skills behind the wheel. The authors outline their innovative three-step program to help people transform themselves from aggressive to supportive drivers.

This book redefines driver education for all drivers, including commercial drivers and truckers. Our traffic emotions need to be trained, the authors stress, and they provide the explanations and activities needed to strengthen critical thinking about road events.

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About the Author:

Leon James, Ph.D. (Honolulu, HI), the nation's foremost authority on road rage and aggressive driving, is frequently quoted in the nation's press and has raised the standard of discussion on this topic. His expert testimony at congressional hearings in July 1997 helped legislators to realize that aggressive driving is a cultural problem. Diane Nahl, Ph.D. (Honolulu, HI), is associate professor of Information and Computer Sciences in the Library and Information Science Program at the University of Hawaii and is the founder of the new field of Driving Informatics. Dr. Nahl and Dr. James have authored the RoadRageous aggressive-driving video course, which is used in driving schools and court-mandated traffic violator schools. They're also active in aggressive-driving prevention training for law enforcement, and their Web site at DrDriving.org provides services for older drivers, commercial drivers, and teen drivers.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

CHECKLIST: YOUR RANGE OF HOSTILITY

The following twenty steps are arranged along a continuum of escalating degrees of hostility, beginning with relatively milder forms of aggressiveness (step 1) and going all the way to extreme violence (step 20). How far down the uncivilized path do you allow yourself to go? The majority of drivers we tested go as far as step 13.

1. Mentally condemning another driver
2. Verbally denigrating another driver to passengers in your vehicle
3. Closing ranks to deny someone entry into your lane because you're frustrated or upset
4. Giving another driver the "stink eye" to show your disapproval
5. Speeding past another car or revving the engine as a sign of protest
6. Preventing another driver from passing because you're mad
7. Tailgating to pressure a driver to go faster or get out of the way
8. Fantasizing physical violence against another driver
9. Honking or yelling at someone through the window to indicate displeasure
10. Making a visible obscene gesture at another driver
11. Using your car to retaliate by making sudden, threatening maneuvers
12. Pursuing another car because of a provocation or insult
13. Getting out of the car and engaging in a verbal dispute on a street or parking lot
14. Carrying a weapon in the car in case you decide to use it in a driving incident
15. Deliberately bumping or ramming another car in anger
16. Trying to run another car off the road to punish the driver
17. Getting out of the car and beating or battering someone as a result of a road exchange
18. Trying to run someone down whose actions angered you
19. Shooting at another car
20. Killing someone

How far down did you go on the continuum? The checklist is divided into five equal zones of intensity of aggressiveness.

Unfriendly Zone: Items 1 to 3 -- mental and verbal acts of unkindness toward other drivers

Hostile Zone: Items 4 to 7 -- visibly communicating displeasure or resentment with the desire to punish or retaliate

Violent Zone: Items 8 to 11 -- carrying out an act of hostility either in fantasy or in deed

Lesser Mayhem Zone: Items 12 to 16 -- epic road rage contained within personal limits

Major Mayhem Zone: Items 17 to 20 -- unrestrained epic road rage; the stuff of violent media headlines.

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