'You're an Idiot,' And Other Festive Holiday Greetings

Luke Sevenski, 27, left, and his stepbrother Mark Buckman, 32, started www.platewire.com to shame bad drivers. Users can post the license plate numbers of drivers who are rude or dangerous.
Luke Sevenski, 27, left, and his stepbrother Mark Buckman, 32, started www.platewire.com to shame bad drivers. Users can post the license plate numbers of drivers who are rude or dangerous. (By Nikki Kahn -- The Washington Post)
By Eric M. Weiss
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 20, 2006

The pilgrimage to Thanksgiving dinner is often a battle against rude, obnoxious drivers and the impulse to throttle them.

But this holiday season, there's no need to keep that anger to yourself. Entrepreneurs have come up with ways to let off steam.

The Web site http://www.platewire.com allows motorists to post the license plate numbers of offending drivers on the Internet and tell the world what a moron that guy was on the Capital Beltway. The Web site was created by a Fairfax man who said he wants to shame people into driving better. Police disapprove, saying the best tactic is to call authorities.

On the Web site, license plate numbers are accompanied by pointed, sometimes-profane commentaries on the motoring skills of their owners. They are listed under headings such as "Maniac" and "Jerk on the Phone."

"Great job driving down the BW parkway," reads one post about a Maryland driver. "How many people did you cut off with that tank of a vehicle? Get off your cellphone and drive. Was that your kid in backseat too?"

Mark Buckman, a Fairfax computer consultant who started the site with his stepbrother Luke Sevenski, said he is outraged by careless, rude or inattentive drivers.

"We are a society driven by fear -- the fear of being ostracized," he said while driving in Fairfax recently. Buckman, 32, started the site in May with $5,000. He said it now gets 500 to 2,000 unique hits a day and has hundreds of postings about bad drivers from as far as Los Angeles.

There are no known instances of subjects of the mean missives actually seeing them.

So why are people taking the time to post what is basically a primal scream?

"It is the psychology of venting," said Leon James, a professor at the University of Hawaii and co-author of "Road Rage and Aggressive Driving." "It is the same as when we get to the office after a commute. We cannot start work until we have a cup of coffee and have someone listen to our driving story."

But does it work?

"Venting reactivates the original stress hormones. It keeps you obsessively focused on proving the other person wrong," James said. "What kind of help is this?"


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