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Section 4
Measuring Anxiety-Related Driving

Question 4 | Test | Table of Contents

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In the last section, we examined the role of self-esteem in Anger Management and Anger Management clients and road rage:  anger; inappropriate goal-setting; and replacing the source of self-esteem.

In this section, I will discuss how to create a Larson Driving Stress Profile for Anger Management clients who experience road rage.  Also, I will present a technique for driving less stressfully entitled "An Enjoyable Driving Experience."

♦ Larson Driver Stress Questionnaire for Anger Management
First, I ask my Anger Management clients to fill out the Larson Driver Stress Questionnaire.  This questionnaire divides its questions into four categories:  anger, impatience, competing, and punishing.  These are also the four most damaging attitudes that cause accidents. I ask my clients to read each scenario and rank them from 0 to 3.  Zero represented "Never true when I drive," one represented "It’s true for me only once in a while"; two represented "it’s true for me, even if for a moment, often when I drive"; and three represented "it’s true for me even for a moment every time I drive." 

The category "anger", included, but was not excluded to, the following sample of scenarios:

  1. Get angry at fast/slow drivers.
  2. Get angry at drivers who cut me off.
  3. Get angry at traffic jams.
  4. Get angry at tailgaters.
  5. Get angry at passenger.

The category "impatience", included, but was not exclusive to, the following sample of scenarios:

  1. Impatient at traffic jams.
  2. Impatient at stoplights.
  3. Impatient waiting for stoplight.
  4. Impatient if behind schedule on a trip.
  5. Impatient with pedestrians crossing the street.

The category "competing" included but was not excluded to, the following sample of scenarios:

  1. Compete with yourself (for time, schedule).
  2. Personalize the competition with another driver.
  3. Challenge other drivers.

The last category, "Punishing" included, but was not excluded to, the following sample of scenarios

  1. "Punish" bad drivers.
  2. Block tailgaters who want to pass.
  3. Brake suddenly to send a message to the other driver.

For each category, which would, in its entirety, include 10 questions, a total of nine or higher indicated a high level of stress associated with that particular emotion or attitude on the road.  If an Anger Management client scored a combined total of 35 or higher, that client has a severe level of stress associated with the road.

♦ Technique:  Enjoyable Driving Experience, 5 Suggestions
Thomas was a 35 year old Anger Management client of mine.  I asked Thomas to take the Larson Stress Questionnaire.  Thomas scored a 75 total, which indicated an extremely high level of stress on the road.  This meant that Thomas was at a high risk to be involved in a road rage incident.  Thomas stated, "I don’t know what it is about me and driving, but whenever I get into a car, somehow, something pisses me off.  I get mad and then I do things I later regret." 

Because of Thomas' stress level, I gave him the following List of Suggestions for "An Enjoyable Driving Experience."  Thomas appeared somewhat insightful and this list gave him a list of things that could help reduce his stress while driving and make the overall experience much more enjoyable:

  1. Drive to maximize sensory awareness.  Remember this principle:  the more you speed, the less you experience where you are; the more you experience where you are, the slower you go.  Find the optimum speed that allows you to reach your objective without sacrificing sensation.
  2. Treat yourself to beautiful and/or stimulating sounds.  Listen to the radio.
  3. Experience the fun of driving with companions.  I particularly enjoy setting off on one- or two-hour journeys with a friend.  Try not to let anything interrupt you from enjoying the scenery or your conversation.  If you race or compete, you cannot fully attend to the conversation or experience the pleasure and affection you could feel as the dialogue ranges through many moods and ideas.
  4. Stock your favorite snacks in the car.  Most cars have trays for drinks.  Sipping a cup of coffee invites more leisurely ambiance, and the taste sensation causes you to be more aware of other sensations too, like hearing, seeing, and smelling.  Your mind moves away from preoccupation with competing toward appreciation of the immediate benefits of being alive.

Think of your Thomas who is insightful.  Could your Anger Management client benefit from driving more enjoyably?  Would playing this section be beneficial in your next session?  We will discuss stress more thoroughly in the next section.

In this section, we discussed how to create a Larson Driving Stress Profile for Anger Management clients who experience road rage.  Also, we presented a technique for driving less stressfully entitled "An Enjoyable Driving Experience".

In the next section, we will examine the effects of stress on Anger Management clients:  increased irritability; less control over impulses; and susceptibility to paranoia.  We will also include "The Larson Driver Relaxation Breathing Exercise" to help stressed clients relax.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Aston, E. R., Shannon, E. E., & Liguori, A. (2014). Anxiety, sedation, and simulated driving in binge drinkers. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 28(2), 359–366.

Chin, B., Lindsay, E. K., Greco, C. M., Brown, K. W., Smyth, J. M., Wright, A. G. C., & Creswell, J. D. (2019). Psychological mechanisms driving stress resilience in mindfulness training: A randomized controlled trial. Health Psychology, 38(8), 759–768. 

Lutz, J., & Krahé, B. (2018). Inducing sadness reduces anger-driven aggressive behavior: A situational approach to aggression control. Psychology of Violence, 8(3), 358–366.

Taylor, J. E., Sullman, M. J. M., & Stephens, A. N. (2020). Measuring anxiety-related avoidance with the Driving and Riding Avoidance Scale (DRAS). European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 36(1), 114–122.

What are the four categories to the Larson Driver Stress Questionnaire for Anger Management clients?
To select and enter your answer go to Test.

Section 5
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