Reckless Driving a Behavioral Strategies for Reducing Traffic accidents in metropolitancitiesDr.Kedar Karki
According to the American Automobile Association Foundation for Traffic Safety, an average of 1,500 peopleare killed or injured each year as a result of aggressive driving. The National Highway Traffic and SafetyAdministration defines "aggressive driving" as, "the operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that endangersor is likely to endanger persons or property." This behavior usually involves illegal and dangerous driving,committed with the intent to gain an advantage over the other drivers. Examples of aggressive drivinginclude: exceeding the posted speed limit, following another vehicle too closely, passing on the shoulder of the road, failure to yield, unsafe or erratic lane changes, improper signaling, and failure to obey traffic controldevices (stop signs, yield signs, traffic signals, railroad grade cross signals). Running a red light is one of themost dangerous forms of aggressive driving.The term "road rage" differs from aggressive driving and impliesa criminal offense involving "an assault with a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon by the operator or passenger(s) of one motor vehicle on the operator or passenger(s) of another motor vehicle, or an assaultprecipitated by an incident that occurred on a roadway". Road rage can be accompanied by behaviors suchas excessive honking, yelling or making obscene gestures, flashing high beams excessively, recklesslypassing or weaving in and out of traffic, speeding up when others are trying to pass, or deliberately tailgatingor chasing another vehicle.Many states have introduced or passed legislation to create specific penalties for aggressive driving offenses and for incidences of road rage. These laws create specific penalties for drivingthat intentionally creates a risk of harm or endangers the safety of others, involves wanton or recklessdisregard for another, involves dangerous conduct contributing to the likelihood of a collision or evasiveaction by another, or is deliberately discourteous and shows extreme impatience.The World Health Organization predicts that by 2020 road trauma will be the world's third leading cause of death and disability, after heart disease and mental depression. These facts make motor-vehicle-injuryprevention one of the most formidable public health challenges of the future. Motor-vehicle crashes are theleading cause of injury-related deaths in the United States, and the leading cause of death from all causesfor Americans aged one to thirty-four. In 1997, nearly 42,000 people died on the nation's roads andhighways, and another 3.5 million suffered nonfatal injuries. Road trauma results in about 500,000hospitalizations and 4 million emergency department visits annually. These deaths and injuries cost theUnited States more than $150 billion annually, including $52.1 billion in property damage, $42.4 billion in lostproductivity, and $17 billion in medical expenses.The reduction in motor-vehicle-related deaths attributable to crashes in the cities also represents one of thegreat public health achievements of the twentieth century. Despite the tenfold increase in motor-vehicletravel between 1925 and 2000, the annual death rate declined during this period from 18 per 100 millionvehicle-miles traveled in 1925 to 1.7 in 1997—a 90 percent decrease. A significant decline in traffic deathsper 100,000 populations also occurred during this period. These reductions have come about by reciprocalchanges in the design of vehicles, changes in the behavior of road users, and structural changes that makeroads and environments safer.
While structural approaches to preventing road trauma, such as changes to the vehicle and the road, haveled to many positive safety advantages, driver behavior still remains a key impediment to further progress.Unlike most diseases that have been prevented with vaccines, most traffic injuries cannot be controlledquickly by introducing a vaccine-like technology, as the technology must be proven safe, adopted by people,and used properly in order to be effective. Behavior-based strategies have succeeded in reducing bothinjury-risk behaviors and injury outcomes. The most successful strategies have been planned andimplemented with a theoretical framework such as behavior modification or applied behavior analysis.
Applied Behavior Analysis:
Perhaps the most widespread use of behavioral technologies to modify road-use behaviors has beenapplied behavior analysis. This framework uses contingency management through various forms of rewardsand incentives, behavioral shaping, and modifying environmental cues and conditions to affect driver,occupant, and pedestrian behaviors. At the societal level, laws and enforcement strategies that discourageor punish risky behaviors are a form of contingency management.
For example, in studying drinking and driving behavior, behaviorists are interested in identifying antecedents (A) to thebehavior, such as legal requirements, cues in the environment, and "happy hour" inducements; studying the behavior itself(B), such as frequency and speed of drinking, and the drinking and driving environment; and consequences (C) thatfollow the behavior, such as social attention, or punishment in the form of DWI (driving while intoxicated) arrests.Understanding the ABCs of a behavior chain can help the behaviorist shape the individual and the environment to yield