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TROUBLESHOOTER / I can’t stop my offensive tailgating, dangerous driving

The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:

I am a male company employee in my 40s. Tailgating offenses have been a talking point of late. I am worried because sometimes I tend to resort to such dangerous driving.

The other day, I was driving in the fast lane. A car switched lanes and came in front of me from the left. Feeling that the vehicle forced its way in front of me, I switched to the left lane, pulled my car beside the other vehicle and moved it closer and closer to the car’s side.

On another occasion, I was trying to run through a section of a road where it was narrower because of a car parked on the roadside. Then a car coming from the opposite direction tried to drive through first. I got angry because I thought the other car should stop and wait for me to go first, and I ended up harassing the other car so that it would find it difficult to pass through.

Both times, I later regretted having acted wrongly.

I know I must stop this habit before causing a serious accident, but I just cannot stop it when I get irritated while driving, Please give me advice.

R, Tokyo

Dear Mr. R:

I can see from your letter that you really want to stop your dangerous driving habit, including tailgating. First of all, and above all, I felt relief in your sincere acknowledgment that what you did was wrong and you could cause a serious accident if you don’t stop. I felt so because the first step to stopping tailgating is your awareness that tailgating is wrong.

But awareness alone is not enough. To really get rid of the habit, you need to be reminded of your dangerous driving many times over and tell yourself words of regret repeatedly.

There is a clue in your letter, in which you wrote how you drove on those occasions. On a day you have done such driving, you should write about the incident in a notebook just as you did in this letter. Just before you drive a car next time, read out what you wrote in a loud voice. To finish, say out loud: “No! It’s going to lead to a big accident!” and “I will never do it again!” and repeat those phrases. After finishing this procedure, take a deep breath and go ahead driving your car.

Conversely, on a day you have not done dangerous driving, write down, “Well done!” to praise yourself. If you continue this, I’m sure your bad driving habit will disappear.

Soichiro Nomura, psychiatrist

(from Jan. 25, 2019, issue)Speech

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