WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today Reps. Greg Stanton (D-AZ) and Thomas H. Kean, Jr. (R-NJ), members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, expressed concerns to the Federal Highway Administration over its recently released guidance that state departments of transportation avoid using humor or popular culture references in roadway safety messages.

“We agree that clear, concise signage is important; however, we believe this can be done with humor while keeping the attention of drivers on the road,” the Congressmen wrote. “Further, this is a blanket discouragement of humorous signs that leaves no room for state-by-state discretion.”

For the last seven years, the Arizona Department of Transportation has held a contest to find the funniest and most creative messages for the freeway signs—in the most recent contest, more than 3,700 people submitted suggestions. The signs are incredibly popular with drivers. And in a nationwide survey completed by the FHWA, more than 80% of respondents said they understood the messages on creative highway signs. 

In the letter, the Congressmen requested the FHWA: 

  • Explain the analysis that went into the FHWA’s decision to issue this guidance in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways.
  • Specify if there was crash data or fatality data that went into these decisions, and how those statistics were tied to sign messaging.
  • Detail any communications between the FHWA and State DOTs when making this decision. 

The full letter is available HERE.