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Do Student Driver Stickers Really Work? What the Research Says:

Student Driver Stickers: What Are They For?

The use of student driver stickers is a common practice for new drivers who are still learning how to operate a vehicle. The stickers are typically placed on the car to alert other drivers that the vehicle is being driven by a student driver who may be inexperienced or unfamiliar with the rules of the road. Many people believe that these stickers can help improve safety by encouraging other drivers to be more cautious around student drivers (okay fine, I'll say it: NEWBS), and while the number of studies that have been performed are limited, there is some evidence that supports this theory.

white car with a student driver sticker on it, cruising along a winding road.

What do the Studies Say?

Journal of Safety Research:

One study published in the Journal of Safety Research in 2016 aimed to investigate the effects of student driver stickers on driver behavior. The study used a driving simulator to test the reactions of other drivers when they encountered a car with a student driver sticker. The results showed that drivers were more likely to give the student driver more space on the road and be more cautious around them when they saw the sticker. However, the study also found that some drivers became distracted by the sticker and spent more time looking at the student driver's car. Some have argued this could potentially increase accidents. More realistically, however, it means the sticker is working! The other drivers clearly recognize that the given car should be treated with extra care and given lots of space.

Journal of Accident Analysis & Prevention 

Another study published in the Journal of Accident Analysis & Prevention in 2018 aimed to investigate the effectiveness of different types of warning signs on reducing accidents involving new drivers. The study compared the use of student driver stickers, magnetic signs, and flashing lights on the roof of the car. The results showed that the use of magnetic signs and flashing lights was the most effective way to reduce accidents on the road. The researchers suggested that these types of warning signs are more attention-grabbing and can provide clearer signals to other drivers. In other words, the clearer the warning sign, the better! That's why we only sell student driver sticker magnets with the latest reflectivity technology that can be clearly seen night and day, rain or shine. With large text set against a bright yellow background, our magnet is sure to alert other drivers to leave extra space and be patient.

Transportation Research Journal

A third study published in the journal Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour in 2020 aimed to investigate the factors that influence driver behavior around student drivers. The study surveyed over 400 drivers to determine how they respond to student driver stickers and what factors influence their behavior. The results showed that drivers were more likely to give the student driver more space on the road and be more cautious around them when they perceived the student driver as being young or inexperienced. However, the study also found that some drivers became annoyed or frustrated when they encountered student drivers on the road. This is one reason why it is important to communicate clearly to other drivers that learning drivers are, indeed, novices. The goal of putting a student driver sticker on the car is to communicate the status of the driver to ensure that other drivers allow extra space and patience instead of assuming that the "newb" driver is a normal, experienced driver, and yelling, honking, or even engaging in aggressive driving in retaliation.

The Bottom Line

While these studies provide some insight into the effectiveness of student driver stickers, it is important to note that they have some limitations. For example, the studies were all conducted in controlled environments (such as driving simulators) and may not accurately reflect real-world driving situations. Additionally, the studies did not consider other factors that may influence driver behavior, such as weather conditions, traffic density, or the time of day.

Overall, the evidence on the effectiveness of student driver stickers in improving safety is telling, but still under-researched. Several studies certainly have found that student driver stickers do encourage other drivers to be more cautious around student drivers. That being said, it is important for new drivers to receive proper training and practice safe driving habits in order to reduce their risk of accidents on the road, regardless of whether or not they use a student driver sticker. Additionally, other types of warning signs (such as flashing lights) may increase benefits of such measures, alerting other drivers to the presence of a new driver on the road.

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