Comical safety messages across North Dakota's interstates are soon to be a thing of the past, to cut down on them being more of a distraction than intended.

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The North Dakota Departments of Transportation have been instructed to discontinue the use of their electronic signage for the purpose of sharing humorous messages. You may be familiar with those messages, which consist of clever wordplay and references to popular culture and are designed to encourage individuals to comply with traffic regulations.

In late 2023, the Federal Highway Administration published its latest "Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways". This manual upholds the regulations for road signs and other traffic control devices on roadways throughout the nation.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg expressed in a statement regarding the new guide that it aims to enhance safety for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists while also embracing innovative technologies that have the potential to improve the efficiency and safety of our transportation system.

Due to the guide's previous update being more than ten years ago, the government body recognized the necessity of updating its guidelines in order to incorporate the current advancements in technology and transportation patterns.

MNDOT Facebook

MNDOT Facebook

One of the prominent modifications is, at first glance, quite straightforward and does not have significant implications for the general public. The federal agency has mandated that state departments of transportation must discontinue the use of their electronic signage for sharing amusing messages, even if they are intended to be helpful, by 2026.

According to the Associated Press, regulators believe that these statements have the potential to be misinterpreted or divert the attention of drivers, as well as having ambiguous connotations. The Federal Highway Administration stipulates that signs shall adhere to the principles of simplicity, directness, brevity, legibility, and clarity in the language update.

Evidently, incorporating comedy can be more diverting than displaying straightforward warnings such as "crash ahead" or "wear a seatbelt," which align better with their perception of suitable communications.

The updated guidelines permit the dissemination of diverse communications, encompassing vital traffic information, notices pertaining to accidents or unfavorable weather circumstances, reminders to secure seatbelts, and cautions regarding the perils of excessive speed or intoxicated driving.

The NDDOT and all DOTs nationwide will have until 2026 to enjoy their amusement before the new regulations are fully implemented.

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