At risk of road rage? find out...
South Africa has some alarming road accident statistics. More than 18 000 people die on South African roads each year, more than 150 000 people are severely injured and 8 500 people are paralysed. The cost to the nation is estimated to be more than R300-billion per annum.
But the biggest danger is that most South African drivers believe they are not part of the problem and that the more than a million tragic crashes every year happen to someone else. This is the opinion of Keith Cunningham, head of Driver Assess, a Durban-based driving analyst.
Cunningham admits that he had a less than ideal mindset in the past. With substantial experience in occupational health, safety and risk and having worked in the business coaching field focusing on emotional intelligence, he regarded himself as a well-adjusted person and a good driver.
Like most local drivers, he believed that he certainly wasn't reckless and definitely wasn't prone to road rage.
"Road rage can be defined as sudden acceleration, braking and close tailgating, cutting others off in a lane or deliberately preventing someone from merging into a lane. At worst, these sorts of drivers actually chase other motorists, flash their lights or hoot excessively, yell or behave disruptively at roadside establishments. This can even lead to physical fights or death," he explains.
He realised that there were certain triggers which sparked similar behaviour in most people. If each driver was aware of potential weaknesses and triggers, they could control actions that could result in lethal situations.
Most people approach driving as they do everyday chores and operate sub-consciously, he says. "Most of us drive on autopilot. If they are aware of where their own potential risks are, they can take back control. By paying attention to what they are doing, they can take action. That is how people can change behaviour." Drawing on his risk control background, Cunningham created Driver Assess, an online profiler that creates a driver profile to each driver that takes the test. There is a free short quiz to complete and gain some insight into one's attitude at https:// driverassesslive.com.
For a nominal amount, a driver can then complete a detailed online questionnaire and receive back a comprehensive assessment.
The report measures 14 different dimensions of human behaviour and computes the results into a format that can be used to determine a driver's likely behaviour.
"For the first time, you will be able to determine your likely behaviour behind the wheel. You can identify trigger events that initiate the emotions that result in high risk driving. You can spot and understand the meaning you subconsciously attach to these trigger events. Once you are aware of them and have paid them some attention, you are in a position to change these risky behaviours into those that benefit you and other road users," he explains. You can do this every time you drive.
TAKE BACK CONTROL
To sum up, this means taking back control of your driving and actively monitoring your self-talk and emotions and responses. You can consciously choose your driving story rather than let your subconscious write one you have no awareness of, nor control over.
The profile that Cunningham created when he set up Driver Assess nearly two years ago was developed for South African driving conditions. It has been standardised for male and female, minibus, passenger vehicle and truck drivers. In addition to helping individual motorists improve their driving, it also has widespread applications in the commercial world - all the more important given that the vast majority of goods in South Africa are transported by road.
Besides raising an individual's awareness about his or her risky road behaviour, it helps provide clarity on potential new recruits who would be required to operate a company's vehicles.
The Driver Assess behaviour profiler can also complement existing driver recruit training programmes by identifying specific education strategies for different drivers.
It can also be an important tool in vehicle accident investigations.
Cunningham says he practises what he preaches and now drives consciously with modified behaviour.
"At Driver Assess, we believe that the high number of South African road accidents affects us all. The injuries and fatalities are unnecessary and this is something conscious drivers can change. By using our profiler to help individuals become more self-aware and emotionally alert, we believe the roads will become safer and the number of accidents will be reduced," he concludes.