Reckless Driving a Behavioral Strategies for Reducing Traffic accidents in metropolitan cities Dr.

Kedar Karki
According to the American Automobile Association Foundation for Traffic Safety, an average of 1,500 people are killed or injured each year as a result of aggressive driving. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration defines "aggressive driving" as, "the operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that endangers or 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 driving include: 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 control devices (stop signs, yield signs, traffic signals, railroad grade cross signals). Running a red light is one of the most dangerous forms of aggressive driving.The term "road rage" differs from aggressive driving and implies a 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 assault precipitated by an incident that occurred on a roadway". Road rage can be accompanied by behaviors such as excessive honking, yelling or making obscene gestures, flashing high beams excessively, recklessly passing or weaving in and out of traffic, speeding up when others are trying to pass, or deliberately tailgating or 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 driving that intentionally creates a risk of harm or endangers the safety of others, involves wanton or reckless disregard for another, involves dangerous conduct contributing to the likelihood of a collision or evasive action 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-injury prevention one of the most formidable public health challenges of the future. Motor-vehicle crashes are the leading cause of injury-related deaths in the United States, and the leading cause of death from all causes for Americans aged one to thirty-four. In 1997, nearly 42,000 people died on the nation's roads and highways, and another 3.5 million suffered nonfatal injuries. Road trauma results in about 500,000 hospitalizations and 4 million emergency department visits annually. These deaths and injuries cost the United States more than $150 billion annually, including $52.1 billion in property damage, $42.4 billion in lost productivity, and $17 billion in medical expenses. The reduction in motor-vehicle-related deaths attributable to crashes in the cities also represents one of the great public health achievements of the twentieth century. Despite the tenfold increase in motor-vehicle travel between 1925 and 2000, the annual death rate declined during this period from 18 per 100 million vehicle-miles traveled in 1925 to 1.7 in 1997—a 90 percent decrease. A significant decline in traffic deaths per 100,000 populations also occurred during this period. These reductions have come about by reciprocal changes in the design of vehicles, changes in the behavior of road users, and structural changes that make roads and environments safer. Behavioral Approaches: While structural approaches to preventing road trauma, such as changes to the vehicle and the road, have led 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 controlled quickly 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 both injury-risk behaviors and injury outcomes. The most successful strategies have been planned and implemented 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 been applied behavior analysis. This framework uses contingency management through various forms of rewards and 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 discourage or 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 the behavior, 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) that follow 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

change. Reminders, prompts, incentives, and cues in the environment can be used to modify antecedents. Behavioral modeling, demonstration, and skill building can be used to modify the risk behavior. Social support, feedback, reinforcement, and punishment (or perception of punishment) can be used to modify the consequences of the behavior. Application of these strategies, and others that rely on legislative and enforcement strategies to change behaviors, has been found effective. Behavioral road safety intervention research has been used to modify safety belt use, drinking and driving, use of child restraints, speeding, and other risky road safety practices.

Theoretical and Integrated Approaches:
Application of a theoretical approach to changing traffic-related behavior holds the greatest promise for future success. Using the theory of planned behavior, the theory of reasoned action, social learning theory, subjective norm development, protection motivation, the health belief model, stages of change, and risk perception approaches, researchers have sought to apply models of behavior change to modify individual behaviors and social norms that enhance traffic safety. While early motor-vehicle safety resulted from vehicle and highway engineering, future success will require an integrated approach, using what we have learned from health promotion, health education, behavioral and social science, and law together with structural approaches like engineering and environmental science to produce long-term positive outcomes. This approach can also prove effective on those who make laws, design roads, and build cars in ways that protect whole populations. The rigorous scientific application of behavioral science principles to injury prevention is an important strategy that is necessary to further reduce traffic crashes and motor-vehicle injuries.

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