Who writes the electronic road signs for MnDOT? – WCCO
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – If you drive on Minnesota freeways on a Monday, you’ve probably seen the bizarre sayings on the Minnesota Department of Transportation electronic signs.
Everything from “Duck, Duck, Buckle Up” to “Flying Mattress, Secure Your Load” to “Santa Sees When You are Speeding” – they’re short and crisp and hope to grab the attention of drivers.
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Bruce from Bayport also emailed WCCO to find out: who is writing these messages? Good question.
“We have this secret committee, if you will,” says Kristine Hernandez, Toward Zero Deaths program coordinator for MnDOT. She runs the Message Monday program.
It started in November 2016. The MNDOT, as the Minnesota Department of Public Safety searched for ways to reach young men – a group that is most likely to die on Minnesota highways.
“We’re looking to hit that demographic target,” says Hernandez. “Usually they don’t read the newspaper or watch the news, so we decided to hit them where they are and that’s on the pavement.”
In 2017, 358 people died on Minnesota’s roads – a number that has leveled off over the past five years. The idea behind Message Monday was to push that number even lower.
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“We have to keep doing the right things that we all do, but we have to look for new, innovative approaches to find other ways to continue to bring that number down to zero,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez says the “secret” committee started with “eccentric” people from MNDOT and has since expanded to include people from the Department of Public Safety. They know how to work with social media coordinators and communications managers. The committee only meets a few times a year and has already planned its messages until October.
“They need to be understood by people, but smart enough to grab their attention,” she says. “The shorter the better.”
Swear words and innuendos are not permitted by MNDOT. For example, the Iowa DOT sign, “Shift Happens. Especially in work areas,” didn’t make the cut in Minnesota.
For the most part, the response to the signs has been positive, with people writing on the MNDOT Facebook page that they “LOVE” the posts and whoever writes them “should get a raise !!
But, some people have called the signs a distraction. Because of this, MNDOT only runs them on Mondays outside of peak hours and if traffic engineers find they are causing backups, MNDOT will disable them.
“Some people tell me you brighten up my Monday morning,” Hernandez says. “It’s just a way to get people to think about road safety.
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The MNDOT says it plans to do surveys in the near future to determine if the signs resonate with drivers.