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States love jokes on road safety signs. The feds aren’t laughing.

States like using jokes to get drivers to buckle up or drive sober, but federal authorities say the messages themselves are a hazard The Washington Post By Ian Duncan February 13, 2023

New Jersey had a message for drivers who might be thinking of hitting the road while under the influence of marijuana: “We’ll be blunt/Don’t drive high.” Another tried to protect woodlands: “Hold on to your Butts/Help prevent Forest Fires.” The state was engaging in what is all but tradition for transportation agencies looking to spice up their roadside safety messages with jokes and pop culture references. One researcher gathered more than 350 examples of the messages from 12 states in 2020. But late last year, the Federal Highway Administration responded to New Jersey’s efforts at humor with a leaden warning, asking that it “cease and desist.” Robert J. Clark, head of the federal agency’s New Jersey division, listed reasons the state should knock it off. In a letter to state highway officials, he wrote that using highway signs for such messages does not “promote the safe and efficient use of the roadway, does not serve a highway purpose, is inconsistent with both law and regulations, and increases the liability risk to the owner of the roadway facility.”

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