Food for thought: "Bumper stickers reveal link to road rage"

https://www.nature.com/articles/news.2008.889

The article expresses a link of drivers with bumper stickers being 16% more likely to road rage, which…well, statistical sampling/data isn’t my area of expertise, but I’d wonder how meaningful that is unless the sampling size is enormous (just given the relatively subjective measurements).

Still, I thought this blurb near the end was particularly interesting:

Szlemko suggests that this territoriality may encourage road rage because drivers are simultaneously in a private space (their car) and a public one (the road). “We think they are forgetting that the public road is not theirs, and are exhibiting territorial behaviour that normally would only be acceptable in personal space,” he says.

How does one get a meaningful sample of road raging drivers at all? I mean, three minimum for any statistically valid set, and while there are nearly infinite poor, impatient, aggressive or unsafe drivers I don’t see actual ragers often at all. Maybe it’s a matter of perception, definition, and degree? Or do they have a huge fleet of dash cams capturing years worth of footage to comb through for the few moments of rage?

And then, is it all types sticker displays? Are VW Microbuses with daisies and peace signs 16% more likely to rage? How about Subarus with cargo boxes on top sporting brand name and tourist destination stickers all over the whole rig? Among those 16%, what’s the frequency of “Peace” or “Coexist” type stickers, or other categories? And how does the sticker correlation compare to rager correlations of other groups like lifted trucks or lowered coupes?

I don’t find a lot of value in stereotyping people by their cars (or bikes, or other spurious correlations). Maybe one can find (or create) some data to support it, but it always falls apart at the level of individuals, and it rarely if ever helps either the conversation or the overall conditions that led to the observation.

(IOW, I pretty much agree with what you said, Damiene.)

I’ve had a rule-of-thumb for years: steer clear of any vehicle with more than three bumper stickers.

But Alan’s right: different stickers mean different things. Trump / thin-blue-line / Predator-logo / “OreGUNian” are all good indicators that a driver feels insecure and needs to advertise that.

Personally I have zero bumper stickers on my vehicle. Best to appear ambiguous and nonpolitical, especially in rural communities.

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The ones I watch out for have a different giant flag in each corner of the bed: USA, Gadsden, Thin Blue Line and Trump. I’m tempted to fly my own variation of USA, Gadsden, Pride and Planet Earth.

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