FREAK Shots: How Many Bumper Stickers Make a Bad Driver?

Driving a car can be depersonalizing. That’s why drivers use bumper stickers, bobble-heads, fish brake lights, racing stripes, etc. to show others on the road their personalities, explains Tom Vanderbilt in his book, Traffic.

A recent study by Colorado State University psychologist William Szlemko found a link between road rage and the number — but not content — of personalized items on a vehicle.

According to the study, the driver of this car (which sported no other bumper stickers) …


is less likely to have road rage than the driver of this car …


And, just wondering: do dogs in uniforms count as personal items?



See, i think that bumper stickers are a source of amusement. Some people just see them in a store and like the sticker enough to put them on their car. There are some funny ones, horrible ones, hateful, spiteful, and anyother descriptive word that you can think of to describe a bumper sticker. If you want to put somthing on your car, knock yourself out. Hopefully, because somthing you put on your car, other people wont hate you soo much that they now want to kill you...hmm...just sounds like some people need to grow up?


I'm not much of a bumper sticker fan. I think it's fear of commitment. Some bumper stickers make me laugh but never more than once. Haven't ever seen anything so funny or pithy that would make me want to display it all the time. For those who like them, well go ahead. But some day, they'll be in oh, say, a funeral procession and that "My Other Car Is A Piece Of Crap Too" may not be the message they want to convey at the time.

Mr Clovis

"Repent of Burn in Hell". It is comforting to know that this driver supports freedom of choice.

Jen in Tenn.

I think there are flaws in that formula, too. I think that sophistication of humor in bumper stickers (regardless of number of stickers) = intelligence.

Only an old college parking decal on my car at the moment - which is retired for lack of repair money anyway - but I like a clever, non-abusive funny comment on a bumper sticker regardless of the political or religious background. To me, the sophistication of thought needed to appreciate the joke proves that the driver has some neurons firing.

Maybe the guy with the van should keep that in mind the next time he gets a new paint job. There are some clever church signs around. (My beliefs would scare most churchgoers silly, but I tend to smile and forgive them of their theological differences with me when I see the funnier signs. "Always remember: Moses was a basket case" is still my all-time favorite.)

Van Guy needs to hire the church sign people next time he decorates.



A popular UK sticker used to be 'My other car is a Porsche' - and yes, I've seen it on a Porsche..


More bumper stickers = less intelligence? Wow, we should just ditch the expensive and time-consuming IQ test and give people a blank car and some stickers. Then we can call them stupid if they decide to express themselves differently than us. Excellent!

Anyone that dislikes bumper stickers because of forcing messages upon others should note that most types of name brand clothing force advertisements upon others. So it may be a good idea to check oneself for hypocrisy.

I used to have a ton of bumper stickers on my old car--my most recent car has nothing on it. Pretty sure I was equally intelligent back then...


I use my car to drive back and forth to work and occasionally go to the store. It is a tool. Why would I decorate my wrench, hammer, washing machine, or dishwasher with crap?

People who decorate their vehicles with their political messages/stupid humor/religious beliefs are spending too much time in their tool.



Apparently here in africa bumper stickers are a thing like we use vans to travel an most of them are pimped out like one that read,"Old is you in swahili"an mean the car is old if it drove faster it would actually blow up.


OMG- the fool with the van is my neighbor.

He's NUTS. Somewhere I have a great pic of him at a festival talking to the local atheist org dude.

Matt Birchall

And the dog says: "Let's just get this truck on the road and quit standing round taking photos"

Prairie Dog

Echoclerk, I'd be surprised if the bumper sticker's owner was pro-war. I think it was meant as a protest that we are heading towards another one. On the other hand, I've been wrong before. I just went into a conference room where I work, and there were (I thought) ironic posters saying such corporate drivel as "Be Proactive", "Synergize" and "Create a Win Win", but no, they were perfect straight faced serious. Is that you Dilbert?

Dr. Kim

I find it to be a nice way to exercise our freedom of expression. In reference to a previous comment, I wouldnt' go as far as making such a strong judgment of people's intelligence levels based on their choice of bumper stickers, because that in rhetoric is quite unsophisticated. My old professor, who is an anthropologist and philanthropist happens to be a strong advocate of humanity. He makes his statements on his humble old 1967, who knows what make, kind of car. I appreciate opinions, however, not ones that are used in context of making oneself feel better about him/herself.


This finding has been anticipated, like all things, by the funny papers:

I mostly see large numbers of bumper stickers on beat-up junkers. Maybe the owners are bitter?

Jelipe Sanchiz

Hell is a Strip club and Lake of Fire is a festival. Am I right?


I sometimes slap on a bumper sticker, but it doesn't take long before it bores me and I peel it off. Guess I shouldn't get a tatoo.


I have always resisted vanity plates because, when I (accidentally) do something stupid in traffic, I don't want a memorable plate number.

Same for bumper stickers.

If you have a political bumper sticker and you drive like an idiot, doesn't that reflect poorly on your candidate?


Out on the road one day, I REALLY DID see a Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac.

And a voice inside my head REALLY DID say "don't look back, you can never look back."

I guess Don Henley really knew what he was talking about.

Pierce Randall

I think if you live in the country, more bumper stickers are conservative. If you live in an urban area, more bumper stickers are liberal. I think it has to do with the socio-economic status as it correlates to political ideology in those places, and what in general people think is cool and acceptable.

I'm tired of getting "Share the Road" bumper stickers at bike events. I don't have a car! Where am I going to put it, on the back of my shirt?


I'm sure everyone with a bumper sticker would say that they're the exception to the poor driver finding. But I let people in when they're trying to enter my lane, and I've never used my horn in anger. I have a bumper sticker that identifies myself as a libertarian. I don't expect to change lots of minds, nor do I feel angry toward people who disagree with me. I do feel, however, that not many people know what libertariansim is, and I hope that the sticker might inspire a few people to look it up sometime when they're bored.

Mark Norman

#26 Drew ... actually good manners include allowing people the freedom to bring up a topic that interests them during conversation. That same freedom then allows you to engage in the conversation, propose another topic, or move on. Bad manners include wanting to place limits on what other people say.