Home Online Marketing DelDOT's 'clever' messages grabbing motorists' attention

DelDOT's 'clever' messages grabbing motorists' attention

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The Delaware Department of Transportation has our attention now.

This holiday season, Reddit users and drivers are giving DelDOT a tip of the hat for the message boards on state highways noting, among other holiday tips, that “SANTA IS WATCHING. DRIVE SOBER. DRIVE SAFE.” 


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That message came directly from the top.

DelDOT Secretary Jennifer Cohan suggested it at a December meeting, according to DelDOT Chief Traffic Engineer Mark Luszcz.

“We put [the lighter] messages up when there isn’t a more critical message that needs to be shown,” he said. “Those might include messages about weather, construction or crashes.”

An interactive map showing what messages are posted where can be found at deldot.gov/map.

DelDOT has been using the message boards the past few years, Luszcz said. What is new are the general safety messages disguised as witticisms to grab drivers’ attention.

“We’ve gotten good feedback that people are looking at them and talking about them and letting us know the messages are being read,” he said. “We have had a couple of complaints with people telling us we shouldn’t try to be clever, but those are few and far between.”

No Madison Avenue marketing firm has been hired, either. 

“It’s mostly our staff brainstorming ideas and then sending the messages on for approval,” he said. “We’re just trying to be a little bit more creative to get somebody’s attention.”

While some of the humorous messages have come from Cohan and her staff, other more traditional safety messages bringing attention to fatalities and crashes have come from a relationship with the Delaware Office of Highway Safety and the Delaware State Police, Luszcz said.

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One Reddit user started a conversation about the messages by posting the question: “Anyone notice the comical DelDOT signs around Dover/Camden?”

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Others joined the conversation telling folks about messages they’ve seen and where they observed them.

“Yes, it’s on 95 just north of Christiana Mall! They come up with some good ones,” one person replied. Another comment was “I did a triple take on this one the first time, too.”

Still another message from a Reddit user said: “Southbound 95 coming out of PA, I chuckled, they also had one that said something like ‘DRIVE SAFE. DILLY DILLY’ a few weeks ago.”

Drivers on major highways and roadways in Delaware will be seeing more messages related to distracted driving, speeding, drunken driving, seatbelt use, and fatalities. Luszcz said it’s a statewide strategic safety plan.

One message that has garnered a lot of attention has been geared toward distracted driving: “DON’T TEXT AND DRIVE. GET YOUR HEAD OUT OF YOUR APPS.”

Another is the warning message “YOUR TRUCK WON’T FIT” placed near underpasses in Newark, Newport and the Stanton area, Luszca said.

He said there has been a higher rate of trucks hitting the underpasses there.

“We’ve had regular signs out there forever and the hits continue to happen,” he said. “It’s just one of many extra warning messages for those areas.”

Many of the boards along I-95 and Del. 1 contain the message: “119 FATALITIES ON DELAWARE ROADS IN 2017. PLEASE DRIVE CAREFULLY.”

“We are currently working on a calendar of proposed messages for 2018,” Luszcz said. “We will have a pre-planned schedule that will line up with the Office of Highway Safety when they roll out their initiatives.”

Some of them are go-to messages for DelDOT during the summer construction season, like “RESPECT THE ORANGE AND BLACK,” or “SLOW DOWN, STAY ALERT IN A WORK ZONE.”

“We have our standard safety and educational messages we’ve been using for years now, but we really want to be more creative in the future,” Luszcz said.

Reach Jerry Smith at jsmith17@delawareonline.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JerrySmithTNJ.

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