You’ve probably heard the old joke about the police officer pulling over the woman who was yelling profanities and exhibiting classic road rage, but whose car is plastered with religious messages. When she asked why the officer had pulled her over, he explained that he figured the car must have been stolen since her behavior didn’t add up to her “Honk if you love Jesus!” message.
For better or worse, when you stick a plastic message somewhere on your vehicle, your fellow drivers are going to form an opinion about you. And that’s the point, for many of us. We want to show others what a great sense of humor we have, proudly proclaim information about our political views or our families or, worse, show an amazing lack of taste.
In some cases, having a bumper sticker that stands above the rest can be a dangerous thing if the people around you are trying too hard to read your sticker and accidentally rear-end you during a traffic jam. In that situation, besides having a sense of humor and appreciating your funny bumper sticker, you’d better hope the other driver has great car insurance.
Displaying Our Lives Since the 1940s
We have a long history of wanting to share our views with complete strangers.
The easily-recognizable bumper sticker has been around since the 1940s when a Kansas printer had one of those lightbulb moments. He began creating adhesive bumper stickers to sell in souvenir shops so people could tell their neighbors (and anonymous strangers) where they had been on vacation. It’s still a popular place to find stickers today.
Before the adhesive-backed peel-and-stick display was available, people were not deterred from oversharing. Flags and other displays were attached to cars with wires and strings.
What Does Your Bumper Sticker Say About You?
Is your display actually funny or is it a darker humor that only some people will understand? Want to diffuse road rage or try to compel people to vote for your candidate? How about sending out a message of peace and love for the planet – not to worry, there’s a sticker for you!
Here’s a short list of some of our truly groan-worthy bumper stickers.
There’s a bumper message that says: This bumper sticker never changed anyone’s mind. And that’s the truth. When you put a candidate’s name on your vehicle, you are showing support and, in more recent years, what side you are on! Just keep in mind that one day (soon) the election will be over and you’ll be stuck with a possibly losing candidate’s name on your car. Don’t forget that unsavory revelations could emerge about your favored candidate – and if that happens, you may not want to be remembered as the person who had the wool pulled over your eyes.
Anonymous Help Groups
So, it should be obvious that if you belong to such a group, you’ve taken a pledge to honor the anonymity of the group. There’s not much that’s less anonymous than putting a display on your vehicle. But people have been making gags about these groups since they began, so a little fun on a serious subject probably won’t hurt. And maybe it makes you feel like you belong.
Road Rage Much?
Remember the old Saturday morning cartoon where blind Mr. Magoo shouted at other drivers with fist raised as he caused accident after accident? That may have been the first road rage. Since then, we’ve moved on to road rage that runs the gamut from “friendly” gestures to literal death threats. If you can help it, go easy on the road rage and don’t make yourself a target of some unhinged person who hates everything and everybody – including your views of the world as expressed on your car.
However, you might be surprised to read about this study that shows drivers with bumper stickers are more aggressive than those without. And it apparently makes no difference if the sticker is promoting world peace or the darkly-humorous “My kid beat up your honor student”. According to the study’s author, William Szlemko, these drivers are showing they are territorial with their bumper stickers and will defend their perceived space.
Holding the Car Together
Does your car look like it might fall apart without the adhesive from the bumper stickers? Or does it make you look schizophrenic with competing messages that have changed over time and now contradict each other? Keep in mind that if you ever want to trade your vehicle in or sell it, even one bumper sticker may be too many!
Public Service Announcements
Parents, especially first-time parents, are prone to taking many more cautionary steps for baby number one. By the time baby number three comes along, they’ve usually relaxed – a lot. However, the “Baby on Board” signs and stickers are supposed to serve a purpose – but only if they are used correctly. These notifications are to alert emergency responders to look for a baby or small child. Don’t put an adhesive sticker on your car that cannot be removed during times the baby is NOT in the car. Responders will spend valuable time searching for a baby that is not present.
Although parents may believe other drivers will be more careful around them with such a display, the opposite is actually true. As we mentioned above, other motorists distracted by your sign may cause a wreck.
What’s Your Message?
It’s important to talk about privacy and safety in this conversation. Along with oversharing on social media, sometimes our bumper stickers can provide information about us that, in reflection, we may not want complete strangers (and possibly criminals) to know. For example, it’s better to listen to country music on the radio, than tell the world about your music preferences.
Here are some things to consider before you attach a sticker to your car.
- Locations: This is the original bumper sticker and tells people that you’ve been skiing in Aspen or surfing in Hawaii. It also tells criminals that your family goes on vacation a lot. They may believe you are worthy of following and casing, especially during spring break and other holiday times.
- Church affiliation: This may give criminals the idea that you are not home on Sunday mornings.
- Honor student: It’s hard not to show your pride when your child is named an honor student. Be careful if the sticker reveals where your kid attends school, however, as that may be a clue for a predator.
There are also other things to take into consideration when announcing something to the world via a sticker. Are you inadvertently advertising that you may have a gun in the car with an NRA sticker? What about a company logo that hints you may have an expensive laptop stashed in the back seat?
A Note about Bumper Stickers and Child Predators
Stickers about your children can give an upper hand to predators. Be mindful that you are not telling a predator where your child attends school or daycare. These people can use a sports sticker to glean more info about your child than you would think possible. Finally, your child may let their guard down if someone seems to have information about the family – this could be gleaned from stickers about vacations, church, hobbies and more.
In today’s oversharing society, it’s critical to remember not to share too much about our precious children and families.
3 Ways to Remove Bumper Stickers
If you’ve decided you no longer want to share your opinion or information with the world, there are some safe ways to remove a sticker. First, don’t attack it with a razor blade – you could seriously damage your car’s paint. Here are some better alternatives:
- WD-40 – Everybody has a can of WD-40 hanging around somewhere. Dig it up and spray it, concentrating on the corners. Give it a few minutes to work its magic and starting with one corner, slowly peel it off. Keep it flat as you go. Wipe the area off with a soft cloth with a small amount of rubbing alcohol.
- Hairdryer – Keep the heat at least six inches away, as this method can melt a plastic bumper. Apply heat evenly over the sticker for about a minute. Use a tool, such as a rubber spatula, and glide it under the offending message. Wipe with rubbing alcohol.
- Vinegar, of course – When all else fails, white vinegar can handle just about anything we ask. Saturate a paper towel in vinegar, hold it over the sticker for a few minutes and peel it off.
Find Affordable Auto Insurance Online, Not from a Bumper Sticker
You’ll have much better luck finding the insurance you need by getting a free online quote from Freeway Insurance, rather than reading it on a bumper sticker. You are also welcome to give us a call at (800) 777-5620 or stop by one of our convenient locations.