Psychological Aspects of Traffic Flow:

Suggestions for Continuing California Driver Education

Drivers of all ages and experience need training or retraining in the following skills:

1. Stopping in front of the white line at stop signs. (Waiting for the dip)

2. Putting on the turn signal in consideration of others. (Thinking about how to reduce stress to others.)

3. Feeling responsible for creating stress for other road users. (Need to evolve an altruistic attitude in traffic.)

4. On ramp merging. (People inch too far, thus failing to leave enough space for picking up speed.)

5. Driving with greater awareness. (Radio talk shows can explore topics such as "Is speeding dangerous? Immoral?" This will bring attention to people's irrational ideas in driving.)

6. Creating positive mental scenarios rather than negative. ("Traffic is not too bad. I'll just relax." vs. "Traffic is awful. I'll never get home.")

7. Understanding traffic situations. (Difference in norms between left and right lanes. Proper following distance for best traffic flow. Reducing stress in dense traffic.)

8. Ability to handle routine obstacles to traffic flow (when a lane is closed and merging is required).

9. Using brakes in consideration of others (warning them of an obstacle, or, not following too close)

10. Looking over the shoulder before switching lanes (over-coming resistance to effort and the fear of appearing foolish).

11. Making a safe right turn (not letting vehicle go forward while looking right for clearance).

12. Compensating for the blind spot and using both mirrors for 360 degree view (not letting a car "disappear" in your blind spot).

13. Avoiding the "accordion effect" in the left lane when cars follow too close to each other and run out of space (keep proper distance or use right lane).

14. Avoiding the "danger gap" which leaves a small space between the left and right lanes and invites other drivers to weave through it (keep gap wide for safety).

15. Merging properly when a lane is closed (keep in your lane until you reach the cones).

16. Avoiding "cohort traveling" (speeding up till the next car and following closely so that cars travel in a dense bunch instead of spreading out).

17. Controlling one's mental violence (not letting frustration lead to aggressiveness).

18. Avoiding the symbols of competition in driving (racing to get there first; wanting to pass all cars; feeling ridiculed when a lot of cars pass you).

19. Invoking higher motivations in driving (equity, fairness, morality, altruism, religion).

20. Correcting fallacious beliefs about traffic ("Going 15 to 20 miles per hour over the speed limit is not speeding" or "Going at speed limit is too slow and causes accidents").

21. Giving up a "laissez faire" attitude towards others ("What's happening to that driver is not my problem")

22. Figuring things out ahead of time (when to turn, which way to go, when to change lanes) so as to avoid sudden or impulsive maneuvers.

California Driver Education