3 messaging lessons from funny highway safety signs

More departments of transportation are resorting to humor to get their public safety message across, but not everyone is laughing. Is humor the right move for these important messages?

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“GET YOUR HEAD OUT OF YOUR APPS.”

“TEXTING WHILE DRIVING? OH CELL NO.”

“DRIVE HAMMERED, GET NAILED.”

If you’ve traveled through Utah, Missouri, Iowa, or a number of other states recently, you may have seen these eye-catching, retweet-fetching highway signs.

The quipy roadside banners are part of a widespread trend to create a dialogue around public safety and save lives.

Is using humor to convey dull topics effective?

There is no specific study evaluating the effectiveness of funny highway signage versus straightforward messaging, however several anecdotal accounts provide guidance. According to Lisa Miller, traveler information manager for the Utah Department of Transportation:

Ninety-nine percent of our feedback has been positive. We’re even getting people contacting us, asking, ‘Have you considered this message?’ Then they give us an idea for a message to go on the signs.

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