Cover image for Road rage and aggressive driving : steering clear of highway warfare
Road rage and aggressive driving : steering clear of highway warfare
James, Leon, Dr.
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Publication Information:
Amherst, N.Y. : Prometheus Books, [2000]

Physical Description:
298 pages ; 23 cm
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TL152.35 .J35 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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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.

Author Notes

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 provides services for older drivers, commercial drivers, and teen drivers.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. 13
Prefacep. 15
Diane's Storyp. 15
Leon's Storyp. 16
Part 1 The Conflict Mentality
1. Driving in the Age of Ragep. 21
Road Rage: Real or Media Hype?p. 21
A Worldwide Phenomenonp. 25
Facing the Culture of Disrespectp. 28
The Expanding Age of Ragep. 32
The Anger Choicep. 35
George Washington's Rules of Civilityp. 36
Developing Emotional Literacyp. 38
Protecting Yourself from Aggressive Driversp. 39
Checklist: Your Road Rage Tendencyp. 40
Checklist: Winning and Losing in the Driving Gamep. 42
Notesp. 43
2. Aggressive Driving and Mental Healthp. 46
Denial and the Semantics of Aggressive Drivingp. 46
Drivers Behaving Badly on TVp. 48
Players Behaving Badly with Road Rage Video Gamesp. 50
Why Driving Arouses Angerp. 52
The Gender Effectp. 57
Driving Impairedp. 59
Emotional Self-Control Behind the Wheelp. 62
Checklist: Aggressive Thoughts and Feelingsp. 65
Notesp. 67
3. Causes of Highway Hostilityp. 69
Defensive Drivingp. 69
Stressful Congestionp. 71
Inevitable Unpredictabilityp. 73
Peer Pressurep. 73
Automotive Vigilantismp. 75
Trigger Theory of Road Ragep. 76
Caution--Venting is Harmful to Your Healthp. 80
Checklist: Your Range of Hostilityp. 81
Notesp. 82
4. The Road Rage Spectrump. 84
Jekyll-Hyde Syndromep. 84
Passive-Aggressive Road Ragep. 85
Checklist: Your Passive-Aggressive Road Rage Tendencyp. 88
Verbal Road Ragep. 89
Checklist: Your Verbal Road Rage Tendencyp. 91
Epic Road Ragep. 91
Checklist: Your Epic Road Rage Tendencyp. 97
Automotive Vigilantep. 97
Checklist: Are You an Automotive Vigilante?p. 99
Rushing Maniacp. 100
Checklist: Are You a Rushing Maniac?p. 102
Aggressive Competitorp. 103
Checklist: Are You an Aggressive Competitor?p. 104
Scofflawp. 105
Checklist: Are You a Scofflaw?p. 106
Real-World Driving Tipsp. 107
Notesp. 108
Part 2 Driving Psychology
5. Emotional Intelligence for Driversp. 111
Inner Power Toolsp. 111
Overcoming Emotional Hijackingp. 112
Three Levels of Emotional Intelligencep. 117
Anatomy of an Epic Road Rage Tragedyp. 120
Exercise: Negative versus Positive Drivingp. 122
Shrinking Your Emotional Territoryp. 122
Exercise: Acting As Ifp. 127
Exercise: Scenario Analysis to Modify Oppositional Thinkingp. 129
Exercise: Identifying Wrong Assumptionsp. 131
Notesp. 132
6. Three-Step Driver Self-Improvement Programp. 133
Objective Self-Assessment for Driversp. 133
Exercise: Assessing Myself as a Driverp. 134
A--Acknowledgep. 135
W--Witnessp. 137
Checklist: Witnessing Your Aggressive Drivingp. 140
M--Modifyp. 143
Resistance to Changep. 144
Driver's Diaryp. 148
Checklist: Identifying Your Irrational Driving Rulesp. 150
Notesp. 150
7. Children and Road Ragep. 151
Road Rage Nurseryp. 151
Verbal Rewards for Good Passengersp. 153
Children's Road Ragep. 154
Children Against Road Ragep. 157
Exercise: Recognizing Aggression on the Roadp. 158
Exercise: Appropriate And Inappropriate Passenger Behaviorsp. 160
Exercise: Observing Drivingp. 161
Exercise: Drivers Behaving Badly (DBB) Ratingsp. 162
Notesp. 165
8. Supportive Drivingp. 167
Benefits of Supportive Drivingp. 167
Motorist-to-Motorist Communicationp. 171
Training for Supportive Drivingp. 173
Come Out Swinging Positivep. 175
Exercise: Random Acts of Kindness for Driversp. 178
Checklist: Supportive Driving Affirmationsp. 179
Road Rage against Passengersp. 180
Checklist: Do You Support Passenger Rights in Your Car?p. 184
Checklist: How Passenger-Friendly Are You?p. 184
Exercise: Partnership Drivingp. 185
Notesp. 189
9. Lifelong Driver Educationp. 190
Teenagers at Riskp. 190
Driver-ZEDp. 193
Driving Psychology Curriculump. 195
Post Licensing: The QDC Approachp. 199
RoadRageous Video Coursep. 202
Exercise: Scenario Analysis to Develop Critical Thinkingp. 205
Older Drivers at Riskp. 207
Checklist: Positive Driving Behaviorp. 212
Notesp. 213
Part 3 The Future of Driving
10. The War Against Aggressive Drivingp. 219
Direct and Indirect Costp. 219
Congressional Hearingsp. 220
Federal Agencies United against Aggressive Driversp. 223
Aggressive Police Initiativesp. 225
Aggressive Driving Billsp. 228
Traffic Enforcement Educationp. 232
Notesp. 233
11. Speed Limits--The Great Motorist Rebellionp. 236
Aggressive versus Assertive Drivingp. 236
Citizen Activism against Government Paternalismp. 239
Police Presencep. 242
Traffic Calmingp. 243
Electronic Traffic Surveillancep. 246
Speed Trap Registries around the Worldp. 249
Activism against Aggressive Driversp. 250
Notesp. 252
12. Dream Cars and Driving Realitiesp. 254
In the Driver's Imagep. 254
Driving Musicp. 257
Dashboard Diningp. 258
Car Phonesp. 260
Mobile Computingp. 262
Intelligent Transportation Systemsp. 264
Managing in the New World of Drivingp. 267
Notesp. 269
Indexp. 271