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Government to Prohibit Humorous Electronic Displays on Highways

The U.S. Federal Highway Administration has announced that humorous and quirky messages on electronic highway signs will soon be a thing of the past. This change is part of a broader initiative to standardize traffic control devices across the country.

Implementation of New Traffic Control Manual

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States have been given a two-year timeline to implement the changes outlined in the new 1,100-page manual. This manual, released last month, includes rules regulating signs and other traffic control devices.

Reason Behind the Ban on Humorous Signs

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Officials explained that overhead electronic signs with obscure meanings or humorous content will be banned by 2026. The concern is that such messages can be misunderstood or distracting to drivers.

Guidelines for Future Electronic Signs

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The Federal Highway Administration, a branch of the U.S. Department of Transportation, has specified that signs should be simple, direct, and clear. They are to be used only for conveying important information like traffic delays, weather conditions, and safety reminders.

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Examples of Messages to be Phased Out

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Messages like “Use Yah Blinkah” from Massachusetts and “Visiting in-laws? Slow down, get there late” from Ohio are among those that will disappear. Other notable examples include witty messages from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Arizona.

Arizona’s Approach to Highway Humor

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Arizona, with over 300 electronic signs on its highways, has been particularly creative. For the past seven years, the state Department of Transportation has organized a contest to find the most humorous and creative messages.

Public Participation in Signage Humor

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The contest in Arizona has been open to public submissions, drawing a significant number of entries. Last year alone saw more than 3,700 ideas, with winners like “Seatbelts always pass a vibe check” and “I’m just a sign asking drivers to use turn signals.”

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State Representative’s Views on the Change

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State Rep. David Cook from Globe, Arizona, expressed his fondness for the humorous aspect of these signs. He questioned the necessity of federal intervention in this matter.

Criticism of Federal Overreach

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Rep. Cook criticized the federal government’s decision to regulate state highway signs. He sees this as an example of the federal government not focusing on its essential duties.

The Future of Highway Signage

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With the new regulations set to take effect, states will need to adjust their approach to highway signage. The focus will shift towards more straightforward and informative messages.

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Impact on State-Specific Signage Programs

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States like Arizona, which have embraced a unique approach to highway messaging, will see a significant change. The popular contests and creative inputs from the public will no longer be part of the state’s highway communication strategy.

Transition Period for States

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As the two-year implementation period begins, states across the U.S. will start the process of aligning with the new federal guidelines. This transition marks the end of an era of quirky and humorous highway signage.

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