|Electronic billboard slogans from the Utah Department of Transportation (Photo by Utah DOT)|
Examples include an admonition to "Get your head out of your apps" or warnings that "Santa sees you when you're speeding". It's unclear how well the eye-catching slogans help with road safety, but in a Federal Highway Administration-sponsored survey, respondents said roadside safety messages are more likely to change their driving behavior than other kinds of messages, Levitz reports.
Electronic message screens were originally used for more staid reminders about lane closures and reminders to use your seatbelt. But about five years ago, an Iowa Department of Transportation employee helped start the trend toward wit, Levitz reports. Traffic-safety engineer Willy Sorenson was assigned to come up with slogans for times no urgent messages were needed, and decided to have some fun. He and colleague Tracey Bramble brainstorm slogans twice a year, then run their ideas past a committee to make sure the slogans are suitable for use.
Other states' highway agencies decided to get in on the fun, and now have a Facebook group to trade ideas, according to Sam Cole, the traffic safety communications manager for the Colorado Department of Transportation. The Missouri DOT recently solicited ideas from the public. Spokesperson Taylor Brune said "Don't be a tool, buckle up, fool," was one entry rejected. "That was was an obvious no for us," he told Levitz.