Electronic signs change for safety tips

Related Story

BOONE COUNTY - A sign on the side of Interstate 70 reads "Unbuckled? 7 Times More Likely to Die in a Crash."

The sign is near the Centralia exit headed eastbound. Tomorrow it could read "One Text or Call Could Wreck it All." It's one of 250 signs like it across the state.

The Missouri Department of Transportation is using the signs to alert drivers and discourage distracted driving. 

"Really the purpose of that isn't to be funny or smart but just to get people thinking and make it stick with them so when they are driving down the road maybe they think about that later and encourages them to buckle up or put down their cell phone," said Jon Nelson, a MoDOT engineer.

Nelson says the goal of the signs is to be catchy enough to stick with a driver, but quick enough to not become a distraction. The state aims for phrases that take one to two seconds to read. Anything that starts to take longer becomes as much of a distraction as looking at your phone.

"They need to be things that are easily understood, quick to comprehend, you know we can't have a message on there that takes someone 3 seconds to read because then that's no different then them looking at their cell phone, so," said Nelson. 

Nelson says the the phrases share a common message. This month the focus is preventing distracted driving. It goes along with a national campaign by AT&T that uses the "it can wait" phrase to discourage texting and driving.

The signs are scattered mainly in St. Louis and Kansas City but also stretch along rural I-70. 

Bill Scrivener, a driver along I-70, says the signs do help. "It does remind me to buckle up if I haven't."