Not everyone finds state’s comical road signs funny
It appears the federal government’s sense of humor may need a road test.
New Jersey has recently had a penchant for pithy road signs that spread the message of driving safely with clever jokes, puns and cultural references.
“We’ll be blunt, don’t drive high.” “Get your head out of your app.” “Nice car, does it have turn signals?”
Even Christmas gets a mention on the signs: “Only Rudolph should drive lit. Plan a sober ride.”
But while more than a dozen other states use comical messages to caution drivers, the feds
went after New Jersey signs with a phrase shorter than some of the jokes it has objected to: “cease and desist,” according to the Washington Post.
The head of the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHA) New Jersey division, Robert Clark, offered reasons why the state should stop with the jokes already, which it did, as the Post reported. In a hardly funny letter to New Jersey officials, Clark maintained that such signs “don’t promote the safe and efficient use of the roadway” and “increase the liability risk to the owner of the roadway facility.”
Typical droll government vernacular. Maybe Clark should have used a pithier response to the situation to get our attention: “Honk if you don’t have a sense of humor.”
But no one should be lighthearted about the reasons for safety messages. State police data show New Jersey has been faced with a sharp rise in traffic crashes and fatalities in the last two years.
The messages the federal government wants to curtail started appearing on New Jersey message boards in early October. But it took only a month for the feds to insist they come down.
When Clark told NJDOT (New Jersey Department of Transportation) to get serious, fans of the comical signs spoke out, according to MSN. One resident described them as “very us, funny with a touch of aggression,” according to Patch.com, to which another replied, “The Jersey way.”
Sen. Cory Booker maintained that he was just as “bummed” as fans of the signs to find they have run afoul of the federal government.
“The recent campaign in New Jersey to deliver creative, short, humorous, and attention-grabbing messages seems to be an absolutely ideal way to raise awareness around safety and potentially save lives,” Booker wrote in a letter to the FHA.
Most of us in the state would agree that regular drivers here could use a laugh. In his letter, the senator also highlighted the positive responses to the signs from state drivers and demanded to know why the FHA objected to them “without providing NJDOT with a comprehensive, data-driven justification for the decision.”
Not surprisingly, the government’s “justification” is contained in a book of rules that numbers 864 pages, according to the Post. Recent arguments claim the signs use “unconventional syntax inconsistent with standards in the manual and could present a safety risk.”
The final word on the issue isn’t clear. Will the federal government finally get in on the joke? Or will New Jerseyans get the last laugh? Tough to say. But for now, we should adhere to the federal government’s message and not add fuel to the fire.