UDOT uses humor to reduce crashes and deaths on Utah’s roadways

Variable Message Sign encourages drivers to stay off of their cell phone while driving | Photo courtesy of the Utah Department of Transportation, St. George News

ST. GEORGE —  Utah Department of Transportation’s “Message Monday” program uses funny quips that have become a trend across many states using humor to capture drivers’ attention with messages displayed on electronic road signs along highways and interstates.

Portable variable message signs have been used for many years to advise of construction and maintenance activities before permanent signs were placed along Utah’s 401 miles of Interstate 15. Today, 175 of these signs can be found dotting major highways and interstates across Utah.

Variable Message Signs displaying humorous messages encourage motorists to drive safely | Photo courtesy of the Utah Department of Transportation, St. George News

In 2015, The Utah Department of Transportation used the variable message signs to remind drivers that Zero Fatalities requires driver effort and attention during the “100 Deadliest Days of Driving” campaign.

The campaign became so popular and continues to this day.

UDOT’s aim is to create a conversation with Utah drivers to encourage safe driving habits, including avoiding driving while drowsy, putting down cell phones, paying more attention to surrounding traffic, and, most of all, wearing seat belts.

UDOT got the idea after several other states began posting clever messages for drivers, including Iowa, Massachusetts, Missouri and Tennessee.

Over the last week, UDOT has posted railway safety messages over the highways and interstates to commemorate U.S. Rail Safety Week, which runs Sept. 24 to Sept. 30.

Rail Safety Week is part of Operation Lifesaver, a nonprofit public safety education and awareness organization that launched in Idaho initially and is aimed at reducing collisions, fatalities and injuries at highway-rail crossings and trespassing on or near railroad tracks.

Variable Message Signs displaying humorous messages encourage motorists to drive safely | Photo courtesy of the Utah Department of Transportation, St. George News

While the number of highway-rail crossing collisions, deaths and injuries have dropped over the past five decades, a person is still hit by a train in the U.S. about every three hours, according to the organization’s website.

According to UDOT, the Monday messages are displayed to increase safety awareness, and the signs each Friday indicate the number of days during the past week with no fatalities on Utah’s roads.

The public can also take part in the campaign by submitting ideas to be presented on the variable message signs by going to  messagemonday@utah.gov , or Twitter @UtahDOT #MessageMonday and Facebook.

Messages are limited to three lines and 17 characters per line and are to encourage motorists to:

  • Drive alert and make sure you’ve had enough sleep before hitting the road.
  • Give the road your full, undivided attention. Put away any distractions, and ask that passengers help you to keep your attention on the road.
  • Never drive impaired—this includes alcohol, illicit drugs and even prescription or over-the-counter medications or anything that inhibits your ability to drive safely.
  • Avoid aggressive driving, which means operating a vehicle in a way that endangers, or is likely to endanger, people or property.
  • Buckle up — no matter how short your trip — as more than a quarter of Utah’s vehicle fatalities last year were not wearing seat belts at the time of their crash.

The messages alone won’t get Utah to its goal of zero road deaths, but it gets motorists to think about highway safety.

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Email: cblowers@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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2 Comments

  • utahdiablo October 1, 2017 at 1:38 pm

    “UDOT uses humor to reduce crashes and deaths on Utah’s roadways”….aw…so witty…how about lowering the speed limit back down to a safe 70 – 75 mph, everyone, including Semi truck drivers are weaving all over the I 15 nowadays and when we safely pass them to get in front we find they are looking down at something, most likely their cell phone…..or the crowd is driving way beyond and aboue the posted limit of 80 mph, doing 90 + mph….we need much more UHP officers on these roadways to cite these scofflaws…and the tech is out there to cut off any phone useage while your auto is in gear, your not that important, as to a call or text, or speeding to possibly kill me or my family….so stay off the cell phone when your driving

    • mctrialsguy October 2, 2017 at 3:34 pm

      All good points. Slow down and stay off the phone people! Everyone is getting inconsiderate of others, are in a hurry and not paying attention.

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