Sunday, August 3, 2008

Road Rage - It's Sticky

True confession time:
Many years ago, I was leaving work after a particularly crappy day. As I was moving up the aisle of the parking lot, a car came cutting across the lot (where there were no cars parked) and nearly broadsided me. I snapped. I took off after the car and pulled up behind her at a traffic light. I slammed the car into park and got out of the car and went up to the other car and began to berate the driver. The girl behind the wheel would not even turn to look at me. It is fairly safe to say that I scared the bejeezus out of her. My tirade was so pronounced that someone coming out of a restaurant next to the traffic light encouraged me to get back into my car. Which I did. It was not one of my finer moments. I don't remember if her car had any bumper stickers.
Flash forward to the present and I read this article in the Washington Post, recounting a study put out by Colorado State University about aggressive drivers. Evidently there is a link between the number of stickers you put on one's car and how aggressive a driver you can be. The study does maintain that the unstuck do get angry as well, but there was a definite correlation to bumper stickers and incidents of road rage.

The study, which appeared in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, reported that drivers used the stickers to mark their territory (their cars) and they were more likely to defend that territory when they felt is was threatened.

An interesting side bar to this. As a federal employee, I work under the provisions of the Hatch Act, one of the provisions being (from an online training I took recently) that I may not have more than one partisan election sticker on my car. That's nice of them to look out for me in that way.


Anonymous said...

I wonder if there's a connection between facebook flair and agressive social networking?

C in DC said...

So, you can have 1,001 "peace" stickers on your car and be one of those drivers likely to go off into a rage? Interesting.

Stinkypaw said...

Interesting article and it seems to make sense that you (as an Fed employee) woudn't be allowed to stick your political choice on your car... They really are looking out for you, because you never know when a nutcase can pull up behind you at a red light for not liking the party you support! ;-)

Lana Gramlich said...

That's pretty interesting. I used to have serious road rage problems when I lived in Toronto. At the time, it had been proven that THE worst drivers in the world were in Toronto, not to mention that I was just under way too much stress.
I'm proud to report that I'm now helping Charles get more Zen about such things, as well.
And my car still has no stickers.

C in DC said...

@ Lana - I've driven in Toronto. I still think Rhode Island drivers are the worst. They want to be Boston drivers, but lack the courage to carry it off.

Brave Astronaut said...

Terry - welcome! Thanks for the comment. Now don't make me throw something at you Facebook!

C - Anything's possible, look at what you did! And yes, Boston drivers are pretty bad. But locally the award has to go to Virginia drivers.

Paw - That actually happened to me (I think). I had someone come up behind me and honk at us and then swerved around us. We hadn't done anything wrong, except perhaps voting democratic.

Lana - I don't see the rage part. I can definitely see you as more Zen now. So keep the stickers off the car.