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Missouri lawmaker wants to end playful electronic highway messages

A Missouri lawmaker wants to put the brakes on transportation officials’ use of playful messages on electronic signs mounted along state highways, such as “Santa’s Coming Have you Been A Good Driver” and “Treat the Road Like a Cat Video … Share It.”

“Those signs are hideously expensive, and MoDOT (the Missouri Department of Transportation) has a lot of incredibly detailed information they could share,” said Republican Rep. Tony Lovasco, of O’Fallon. “But rather than sharing that information with people, they make puns about Santa Claus.”

Under a bill he introduced last week, the state Transportation Department would be allowed to use the signs only to convey information about traffic conditions, weather or emergency alerts, the Springfield News-Leader reports.

Jon Nelson, assistant to the State Highway Safety and Traffic Engineer, displays that sort of information whenever needed. But he pointed out that when the roads are clear, the department can “take the opportunity to let people know about simple things they can do to make Missouri a safer place to drive.”

He said federal research suggests that drivers notice the messages and think about what they’ve read.

“We like to think that it’s making an impact,” Nelson said.

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