Motorists driving Interstate 15 on a Monday afternoon might likely get an opportunity to enjoy some Utah Department of Transportation pundits.
“We want to get people’s attention, we’re trying to spark a conversation about traffic safety, with an ultimate goal of changing behavior behind the wheel,” said Kristen Hoschouer, safety outreach administrator.
As part of the Zero Fatalities program, the electronic signs often take advantage of a holiday or national day of “fill in the blank” to spark interest and to remind motorists to drive safe.
For a Halloween guffaw the electronic signs said, “Not even ghosts have boos in their cars. Drive sober.”
Last Valentine’s Day, UDOT went straight to the heart of the matter of safety.
“No Valentine? Your seatbelt will hold you!”
For at-home workers during COVID-19 you could have read this one: “Phase 1 of the sign: Zoom is for meetings. Not driving. Phase 2 of the sign: Watch your mph.”
Or how about this reminder, “Excess speed is not our new normal.”
“Yes, many of our messages are lighthearted and fun, but make no mistake, driving safety is a very serious issue to us. Far too many people are dying on our roads as a result of dangerous behaviors. We want people to buckle up, put distractions away and focus on just driving,” Hoschouer said.
Still the Zero Fatalities team that helps with the messages has had more than just “buckle up” messages on the boards.
For younger distracted drivers, you could read this: “Every Second Counts. Don’t Tik Tok N Drive.”
“Every Monday we have a message related to a holiday or something big in the news (we try to stay away from politics) or safety related,” Hoschouer said.
Monday starts National Traffic Incident Response Awareness Week, to celebrate first responders. One of the messages will say, “Flashing lights ahead, give them the lane.”
While not so comedic, Horschouer said that is the message they want to have motorists see next week to honor EMTs, police, fire and other responders.
Thanksgiving is coming soon, wagers are being taken on whether the boards will say anything about “Don’t be a turkey: Drive safe,” or “Going over the river and through the woods? Buckle up and stay alert.”
While the messages are trying to remind motorists that safe driving and zero fatalities are important, it appears the numbers are still going up.
The facts are, people continue to die in accidents. According to Horschouer, even in a year of fewer cars on the road, fatalities are up.
Looking ahead to holiday and winter driving, Horschouer asks that drivers buckle up, stay focused and drive safely.