If you’ve driven Ohio’s roads lately, you’ve probably noticed the big signs with cheeky sayings directed at drivers.
One message reminds drivers that “Life is fra-gee-lay,” a reference to the “fragile” package in “A Christmas Story.” Another tells drivers to stay in the right lane unless passing because Santa needs the left lane.
Jack Marchbanks, director of the Ohio Department of Transportation, Jack Marchbanks, says there’s a simple reason for these signs.
“It might seem flip, but we have found that tying these messages to pop culture references make people remember them," Marchbanks says.
Marchbanks says that's important because the goal is to get people to change behavior that is dangerous to themselves and others.
“We are seeking to influence behavior, to make people realize that driving distracted is totally unacceptable,” Marchbanks says. “You have one job when you are in your car and that is to drive your vehicle safely.”
A survey conducted by the Federal Highway Administration found that more than half of all respondents said messages like these caused them to change their driving.
Traffic accidents are up in Ohio this year - more than 1,100 people have been killed in traffic crashes to date - so Marchbanks says the message boards will focus on urging drivers to drive sober without distractions.
Gov. Mike DeWine says that over the last five years in Ohio, there have been 1,171 crashes involving distracted drivers just between Christmas and New Year’s Day.