Some drivers distracted by flashing Columbia message sign

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COLUMBIA - An electronic message board that displays traffic safety messages might be a safety danger itself.

The Columbia Police Department placed the sign on East Broadway east of Stephens College because it's an area with high traffic.

The sign is designed to relay safety messages in high traffic areas.

The messages include; watch for pedestrians, don't drink and drive, buckle up and texting can wait.

However, according to some Columbians the sign is more distracting than helpful.

"Drivers are already distracted and the sign doesn't have anything that is important for the drivers to know," said Tami McCall. "It's just a bunch a messages. It doesn't say roadwork ahead, get over or switch lanes."

McCall said she thinks it could just cause more accidents because people are trying to read what it says.

"At first I thought it could be for roadwork because they've been working on College Avenue all summer, but it had nothing to do with that," McCall said. 

But Columbia resident Vicki Richey said she found the sign helpful.

"I was actually texting and driving when I first saw the sign," Richey said. "It was a literal and figurative sign. Reading it made me put down my phone."

Richey also said she understands how drivers could be distracted with more than one message flashing.

"I could see how some would think it is distracting," said Richey. "But drivers read signs on the road all the time."

The police department placed the sign on Broadway in anticipation of more college students returning this week.