Thursday, June 19, 2008

If you can read this, you're too close


Watch out for cars with bumper stickers.

That's the surprising conclusion of a recent study by Colorado State University social psychologist William Szlemko. Drivers of cars with bumper stickers, window decals, personalized license plates and other "territorial markers" not only get mad when someone cuts in their lane or is slow to respond to a changed traffic light, but they are far more likely than those who do not personalize their cars to use their vehicles to express rage -- by honking, tailgating and other aggressive behavior.

That picture is of my first car, may she rest in peace. I went a little overboard with the stickers #1. because it was an old car so I didn't need to worry too much about keeping it nice for the next person and #2. it was right after Sept. 11

Here's my current car except the plates have changed and somebody stole my "W" magnet since then:

I am an aggressive driver, but I never thought it was my bumper stickers that gave me away, I thought it was the MA plates!

It's interesting that people with stuff on their cars would be more aggressive - I actually tried to be more careful because I knew if I did anything flagrant my car would be easily identifiable to authorities.

I prefer the word "assertive." It is important to be assertive if you want to get where you are going quickly. Some recent gripes:
  • Don't dally at intersections when you see the walk signal counting down - make sure you get through without getting stuck at a red light.
  • Don't let everyone and their mother go ahead of you at a 4 way stop - when it's your turn GO!
  • Don't stop for pedestrians in the middle of a four lane road - they aren't using a cross walk and it's dangerous if the driver next to you goes flying by as they are crossing in front of your car.
  • Don't stop at a Yield sign in light traffic - they decided not to put a Stop sign there for a reason.

I am even assertive in the Metro - I say "Excuse me" when someone is standing on the left side of the escalator so us walkers can keep going. Instead of slowing down and hesitating, allowing people to go in front of me when a crowd is funneling onto the escalator, I step up and take advantage of people's deference to get on the escalator quickly.

I am never so aggressive that I get into an altercation - I am too afraid of someone attacking me. But being assertive usually gets you want you want - and I like that!


Adventurous Kate said...

I don't put anything political on my car because I think it makes you a target for road rage when you do that. Why risk it? (Although up here, you get the same thing from Red Sox and Yankees stickers. I actually saw a car the other day with a giant Yankee symbol with a TEXAS FLAG.)

I bet that survey is a bit skewed, too, because road rage survivors (not to mention cops) are more likely to remember and report that a car had stickers on it than a car that didn't.

concretebob said...

My Daddy used to say "The cemetaries are full of people who had the right of way."