Traditional state highway messages tell motorists to buckle up or to not text and drive, but Delaware’s Department of Transportation is taking a more lighthearted approach to road safety.
They’ve placed witty messages like “THAT SEAT BELT LOOKS GOOD ON YOU” and “EXIT B4U TXT IT” on roughly a dozen variable message signs along Route-1 and I-95. DelDOT Chief Traffic Engineer Mark Lusczyz says there is actually a more serious message behind the comedy.
“Over 35,000 people a year die on the nation’s roadways,” Lusczyz said. “I don’t know if we as a society just have become numb to that or if it’s because they happen in ones and twos all over the place that it just doesn’t stand out.”
Those in the transportation sector say road fatalities are one of the more critical public health problems, but Lusczyz says it’s often overlooked elsewhere. He says the messages point to a lot of simple things motorists can do to avoid crashes, injuries and fatalities.
DelDOT has already brainstormed additional creative messages to catch motorists’ eyes. They’ll be debuting them throughout 2018.
“Road safety is absolutely our no. 1 priority,” DelDOT spokesman C.R. McLeod said. “Being a little more creative, adding a touch of humor, really will help us stay engaged with motorists as they’re passing by these signs out on the roadway.”
And although DelDOT has no statistics to measure the success of the messages, many motorists have let them know on social media they like the signs.
Love the informational signs on Route 1 @DelawareDOT. Dilly dilly!
— Joe Sterner (@JoeSterner) December 22, 2017
Middletown resident Allison Johnson says they’ve caught her attention on her daily commute to Wilmington. She said some of her favorites have included “WATCH YOUR SPEED. ONLY REINDEER SLIDE” and “EYES ON ROAD. HEAD OUT OF YOUR APPS.”
“It’s just a good chuckle on the way to work,” Johnson said.
They’ve even made her think a little bit about the seriousness of fatalities on the roadways and why people get in accidents, she said.
“They’re looking at their navigation apps or they’re looking at their text messages. It’s more of a reality check than ‘buckle your seat belt’,” she said.
Other states like Maryland, Iowa and Utah have placed similar messages on their roadways to grab motorists’ attention. Utah’s Department of Transportation debuted weekly humorous signs along state highways in 2015 as part of Utah's “100 deadliest days” from Memorial Day to Labor Day, but has kept the campaign going on a weekly basis since, according to UDOT spokesman Vic Saunders.
Just like the other states that have spruced up their highways with creative overhead messages to get motorists thinking about safety, DelDOT hopes you will keep your eyes on the road and your “head out of your apps.”