Message boards to promote safety for the
ODOT using humor to
encourage drivers to make safe choices
COLUMBUS (Friday, December 20, 2019) -
Beginning this weekend, roads across Ohio will be crowded with holiday
travelers. Unfortunately, that also means an uptick in traffic crashes.
"As we launch into one of the busiest
travel times of the year, the way we drive over these next twelve days will
impact how many people are home for the holidays or how many people ring in the
new year," said Gov. Mike DeWine.
To promote safe driving, the Ohio
Department of Transportation will display several messages aimed at some of the
top factors in serious or deadly crashes.
"The vast majority of traffic
deaths in Ohio are completely preventable," said ODOT Director Jack
Marchbanks. "While we engineer roads to be as safe as possible, the one
thing we cannot control is driver behavior. We're urging drivers to put down
the phone, buckle up, drive sober, and obey the speed limit."
Beginning in July 2015, ODOT began using
more than 130 digital message boards to display safety messages and relevant
statistics. These messages are only run when other important traffic, weather,
or emergency messages are not being displayed.
Messages will begin this weekend with a
focus on distracted driving. Monday's message mentions the 260,357 crashes
recorded in the state so far this year and reminds drivers that life is
"fra-gee-lay," a reference to the popular holiday movie "A
Christmas Story." On Christmas Eve, drivers will be reminded to stay to
the right unless passing slower traffic because "Santa needs the left lane
tonight." Driving slow in the left lane is a common trigger for road rage
and aggressive driving behaviors that can lead to crashes. Christmas Day
travelers will see a message targeted at impaired driving based on the 1989
movie "Christmas Vacation."
"While the subject is very serious,
we have found that the public responds better to messages that are humorous or
relate to pop-culture," said Marchbanks.
A survey conducted by the Federal Highway Administration found that more than half of
all respondents indicated that seeing safety campaign messages on digital
message boards in the past had caused them to change their driving.
So far this year, 1,119 people have been
killed on Ohio roads, an 8 percent increase over last year. This year, traffic
deaths had been trending down until August. November has been the deadliest
month of the year with an increase of 34 traffic deaths compared to 2018.
Click here for a schedule of the signs running Saturday through Wednesday. Have an idea for a good safety message? Click here to submit it.