INDIANAPOLIS — Have you noticed an increase in bumper stickers asking you please be patient, student driver?
These mostly yellow stickers seemed to be plastered on all sorts of vehicles driving throughout the Indianapolis area, and often times the drivers don’t appear to be fresh-faced drivers still learning the tricks and trades of the road.
So, what’s the deal?
Turns out, this increase in student driver bumper stickers isn’t just in Indianapolis. A search online will show people in cities all throughout the United States asking the same question: Is there really this many student drivers on the road, or is there some other movement around plastering the yellow sticker on your bumper?
“I swear in the last 6-10 months I’ve seen an insane amount of’ “‘student driver, be patient’ stickers,” a Portland driver said on Reddit.
In a completely separate Reddit post, a Colorado driver sounded off about also seeing an increase in student driver stickers with drivers from other parts of the U.S. chiming in to back up noticing the trend.
“Whenever I see someone with those stickers it feels like one big inside joke that I am not in on,” one Redditor said.
Users on X, formerly Twitter, also have noticed the trend.
“Them new student driver stickers be on some nice cars with old ppl in them,” said one user.
“I’m convinced these ‘student driver’ stickers are used to excuse bad driving. Especially when on a car weaving through traffic driven by a 30-year-old,” said another.
Some speculated online that the increase in student driver bumper stickers is a joke or meme. Others think it could be drivers attempting to gain leniency while on the road.
A reporter at NBC4 Washington documented an increase in the stickers in the Washington D.C. area. But if these drivers were hoping for legal protections from tickets, an attorney told NBC4 that the little yellow sticker wouldn’t entitle them to any special protections.
But perhaps the increase in these stickers isn’t drivers hoping to get leniency from police, but leniency from other drivers.
The Indianapolis area has seen its share of road rage violence in recent years, with victims telling police they were shot at due to cutting someone off or even just because of a honk. Even an off-duty police officer was charged in Kokomo for punching a man over a road rage incident.
In fact, reports across the nation show an increase in road rage shootings with some saying the pandemic and firearm accessibility may be contributing factors to the increase. Data from Everytown Research said that on average, someone fell victim to a suspected road rage incident every 16 hours in the U.S. in 2022.
“Most people may not realize that the most dangerous thing you do every day is getting in a car,” said Brad Bushman, an Ohio State University professor.
But will putting a student driver sticker on your bumper buy you any grace from a road rage incident?
“Them student driver stickers mean nothing to me i will still honk at you (sic),” an X user said.