Iowa DOT Defies Federal Recommendation on Highway Sign Messages

The Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) refuses to comply with the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHA) advice to avoid using certain messages on highway signs.

The Iowa DOT has been using highway signs with messages featuring popular culture references, unconventional syntax, and humor for over a decade. However, the recently released 11th edition of the FHA’s Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices recommends against such messages. Despite the FHA’s recommendation, the Iowa DOT believes these signs do not pose a safety threat and will continue to use them. This article explores the controversy surrounding these highway signs and delves into the DOT’s reasoning for disregarding the FHA’s guidance.

1: A Decade of Safe Signage

The Iowa DOT’s special projects manager, Willy Sorenson, asserts that the department has been using these unconventional highway signs for ten years without causing any accidents. Sorenson emphasizes that the signs are not prioritized over immediate traffic warnings and undergo regular reviews to ensure they are concise and effective. The primary objective of these signs is to reinforce traffic safety messages and remind drivers to drive safely.

2: Clarifying the FHA’s Recommendation

Contrary to initial confusion, the FHA’s advice is not a ban on using unconventional messages on highway signs. It is merely a recommendation for departments to avoid messages that utilize popular culture references, unconventional syntax, or humor. The FHA’s concern is that these types of messages may distract drivers or lead to misinterpretation. However, the decision to follow this recommendation ultimately lies with individual state departments.

3: The Purpose and Evolution of the Signs

The idea of using unconventional messages on Iowa’s highway signs originated from the department’s desire to display the number of traffic deaths. Over time, the signs have evolved to include various traffic safety messages, changing periodically to keep them fresh and impactful. The DOT believes that these messages serve as effective reminders for drivers and contribute to overall road safety.

See also  The Highs and Lows of Creativity: How Drugs Have Shaped Artistic Masterpieces

4: The DOT’s Stance and Future Considerations

The Iowa DOT remains steadfast in its decision to continue using unconventional highway sign messages, despite the FHA’s recommendation. The department acknowledges that it may reconsider its position once further research becomes available. However, for now, the DOT maintains that these signs have a positive impact on driver behavior and do not compromise safety on the road.

Conclusion: The Iowa DOT’s defiance of the FHA’s recommendation on highway sign messages has sparked a debate over the balance between unconventional messaging and road safety. While the DOT argues that these signs have not caused any accidents in the past decade, the FHA expresses concerns about potential distractions and misinterpretations. As the controversy unfolds, it remains to be seen whether the DOT’s decision will prompt further discussions on the use of unconventional messages on highway signs nationwide.