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March 23, 2012 ® $3.97 USD
March 23, 2012
®
$3.97 USD

DRIVING PSYCHOLOGY

and the

By: Steve Powers

Professional Driver

Anyone involved with motor carrier safety continually questions; does a well-trained, experienced driver make for a professional driver? This is a great question to pon- der when reviewing the company’s CSA BASIC scores. The answer to this question ranks right up there with; what came first, the chicken or the egg? Inquiring minds have delved into Philosophy, Psychology, Neurology and sometimes, Mysticism to figure it out. A renowned Psy- chologist, Dr. Leon James, has spent years researching the subject, writing many papers, articles and a book ti- tled, “Principles of Driving Psychology”. Dr. James pre- sents quite an extensive review of the human psyche and how it affects driving behavior. Some of his findings are shared herewith. Without going into psychoanalysis of the human psyche, we can agree that our conscience is part of who we are. The conscience can be defined as our inner sense of self- respect. Some peoples’ consciences are possessed with “self-interest” (uncaring, opportunistic with zero feelings to others) while others are possessed with “morality” (respect, compliance to rules and regulations, and politeness) then, we have everyone else’s con- science in between. All these different consciences share one denominator; the conscience dictates behavior and behavior adjusts to circumstance. Now you are thinking, what does this have to do with be- ing a professional driver? The commercial motor vehicle driv- er operates in a “socio- economic” environment. In es- sence, that driver must work in a society where the truck he drives generates revenue; ei- ther for him/herself or the em- ployer. Daily, the driver faces circumstances created by oth- er drivers, Federal, State and Local regulations, adherence to pick-up and delivery sched- ules, safety, maintenance, in- clement weather and home environment. How the driver reacts to these circumstances

environment. How the driver reacts to these circumstances is directly related to his/her conscience which dictates

is directly related to his/her conscience which dictates their driving behavior. Driver consciences being more of the “self-interest” pattern tend to be aggressive, competi- tive and confrontational. The driver consciences being more to the “morality” side tend to be more cooperative, compassionate and safe. Regardless of the driver’s train- ing, skills, experience, habits and beliefs, their behavior is directly influenced by their conscience. So, can the trained, experienced driver be a professional driver? Not until that driver achieves “emotional intelligence” by shift- ing that self-interest conscience to one which is more on the morality level. Drivers with emotional intelligence ac- cept the fact they need to take other motorists into ac- count. Without emotional intelligence driving behavior is unprofessional, overly aggressive and too competitive. These drivers are stressful, depressive, dangerous and injurious to their own and fellow motorists health.

How does the driver attain this emotional intelligence, improving their conscience, which hopefully elevates their driving behavior to that of a professional? To do so, the driver must:

Hold himself/herself accountable, not blaming others for their own errors. Be concerned with the consequences of their im- pulses causing them to drive irrationally Show self-respect and the respect for others Be a positive role model for other drivers to emulate Recognize the diversity of other motorists: Do not react to other drivers’ mistakes Most of all, the professional driver must accept traf- fic as a collective team effort and not a means for conflict and confrontation.

In today’s competitive economy, Driver Managers need to understand the psychology of their drivers in order to fo- cus on their behaviors. Effective counseling sessions can be more productive than progressive discipline; especially where the qualified driver pool is so thin. Bringing this important element of driving to your drivers’ attention can produce positive results, if carried out throughout the en- tire organization.