Tough crowd? Feds putting end to ‘humorous’ highway signs to prioritize safety
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is cracking down on “humorous” digital signs that have been cracking smiles on drivers all across the US.

The days an Ohio highway tells drivers to “slow down” to arrive at the in-laws late or a New Jersey road advising Halloween fans to “Hocus Pocus, drive with focus” will soon be gone.

In December, the FHWA released its latest manual for road managers nationwide, advising that messaging should be “simple, direct, brief, legible, and clear.” FHWA advised that signs with “secondary meanings,” like pop culture references that are “intended to be humorous” should be cut because there’s the off-chance that it “requires greater time to process and understand.”

Massachusetts will no longer be able to warn drivers to “use yah blinkah” and Arizonans will no longer see “just a sign asking a driver to use turn signals,” among the many other hilarious signs popping up along the interstates.

“The safety of all road users is the priority,” a spokesperson told Axios. “States are expected to exercise good judgment in how and when they use changeable message signs for traffic safety messages, and in their specific wording of the messages.”

But don’t be sad just yet! The government agency is giving state transportation departments two years to go on their victory laps and crack their best jokes before the rule goes completely into effect.

Such messaging, the administration notes, “might be misunderstood or understood only by a limited segment of road users and require greater time to process and understand.” Zoom out: Federal officials have regarded these fun messages as a hazard for years, arguing that they might impose certain safety risks due to distractions or even confusion among drivers, per the Washington Post.

Some states have taken their funny road signs to the next level, including Arizona, which holds its own safety message contest. The Arizona Department of Transportation said its 2023 winners, based on over 3,700 submissions, included: “I’m just a sign asking a driver to use turn signals” and “Seatbelts always pass the vibe check.”


Image courtesy OhioDepartmentOfTransportation/Facebook

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