Even those with driver training and a good driving track record must continue to monitor their own behavior behind the wheel, as well as understand the personality traits that impact defensive driving.
Even after they learn how to drive defensively, a driver’s personality traits and emotional state impact their driving skills at any given moment. Factors such as a tendency toward aggression and risk taking can lower the ability to drive defensively. Drivers also must pay attention to the influence of other drivers. Studies show that rude drivers can quickly turn good drivers bad.
Connecting Personality Traits and Defensive Driving
A study published in Traffic Injury Prevention looked at the connection between personality traits and poor driving decisions. Using data from teenagers in Michigan, the study found that certain types of behavior behind the wheel impacted the ability to drive defensively and avoid taking unnecessary risks.
The researchers found some of the factors contributing to poor driving included risk-taking, physical/verbal hostility toward other drivers and aggression.
The connection proved strong enough that the study advised the following: “Traffic safety policies and programs could be enhanced through recognition of the role personality factors play in driving behavior and the incorporation of this knowledge into the design and implementation of interventions that modify the behaviors associated with them.”
This is especially true for companies that employ drivers as part of their business. One way to modify driver behavior is to follow a model for driving excellence. This proven approach teaches drivers how to handle their vehicles in all situations, the uses and limits of safety technology, best practices for safely carrying loads and how to manage external influences that can impact driving. They also learn how their personality traits impact their driving, and how to better manage those traits when behind the wheel.
Personality Traits That Impact Defensive Driving
A study published in Frontiers in Psychology looked at how personality traits impacted drivers of all ages. They found that regardless of age, certain personality traits impact the ability to drive defensively and other best practices for driving.
The researchers reported that the ability to control emotions and the driver’s attitude play a key role in how they drive. They advised that driver training “should work on including emotion regulation strategies, specifically in traffic situations.”
Some of the personality traits and emotions that need to come under control to keep drivers safe include the following.
This is the area where bad drivers can impact good drivers. Confronted with poor driver conduct from someone else, some drivers will react with anger that can lead to poor driving conduct of their own. This leads to drivers creating the very situation for others that angered them in the first place.
Treating The Road Like a Race Track
The road is not a place to engage in competitiveness. This leads to drivers attempting to out-maneuver other drivers, which leads to risk-taking that can cause crashes. The nation’s highways are not a race track, but some drivers need reminding of this on occasion.
Every driver has seen aggressive actions from other drivers, and may have engaged in one or two themselves. This includes tailgating, blocking a lane, switching lanes without signaling, and (at its worst) obscene gestures or yelling at another driver.
Taking Too Many Risks
Some people get a thrill at making high-speed maneuvers, but it’s a risk that good drivers do not take. Serenity behind the wheel should be the goal, not getting a thrill.
Some people have difficulty maintaining focus for long periods of time, with a personality that requires stimulation. This can lead to distracted driving. Not long ago, preventing distracted driving focused on not eating, drinking, smoking or taking your eyes off the road. Those all still apply. But the biggest culprit in distracted driving today are smartphones. Getting caught up in a phone conversation or text messaging is a recipe for disaster. When behind the wheel, the only smart move with a smartphone is to turn it off and set it aside.
Studies show that personality traits and emotions impact driving, including the ability to drive defensively. They also show that people can control those traits and emotions. For many drivers, taking courses in how to accomplish that goal improves their chances of driving safely.