State to use safety messages on signs above roads to encourage safe driving
ST. PAUL, Minn. —Motorists will start seeing new, statistic-based traffic messages on some of the 150 digital message signs above freeways throughout the state, officials from the Minnesota Departments of Transportation and Public Safety announced today.
The effort aims to highlight the prime dangers on Minnesota roads and reinforce safe driving habits by encouraging seat belt use, driving sober and at safe speeds, and being attentive behind the wheel.
The new messages will launch July 15, with a focus on speeding — timed with a current statewide speed enforcement campaign. Summertime is the state’s deadliest period on the road, and motorists traveling at unsafe speeds are a major factor for the spike in deaths during the warm-weather months.
“Using these high-profile signs to highlight key facts about traffic safety issues can help motorists put into perspective that the poor choices they make behind the wheel lead to serious consequences,” said Sue Groth, MnDOT State Traffic Engineer.
The messages will be displayed in conjunction with enforcement efforts coordinated by DPS. The signs are a component of the state’s Toward Zero Death initiative. TZD is the state’s cornerstone traffic safety program that is a partnership between DPS, MnDOT, Department of Health, Minnesota Emergency Medical Services Board and other traffic safety partners.
“These signs give us a great opportunity to deliver important messages where and when it counts: directly to people behind the wheel,” said Donna Berger, DPS Office of Traffic Safety director. “Minnesota traffic deaths have been increasing and we need to reinforce safe driving behaviors to reverse this trend.”
In 2012, 395 people were killed on Minnesota roads, a 7 percent increase from the previous year. To-date in 2013, there have been 166 traffic deaths, up from 149 at this time last year.
MnDOT’s digital message signs are primarily reserved for real-time traveler information such as traffic incident alerts relating to crashes, detours, lane closures, critical road construction or maintenance operations; for travel times and for AMBER Alerts. The real-time messages take precedence over the traffic fatality information.
A primary vision of the TZD program is to create a safe driving culture in Minnesota in which motorists support a goal of zero road fatalities by practicing and promoting safe and smart driving behavior. TZD focuses on the application of four strategic areas to reduce crashes — education, enforcement, engineering and emergency trauma response.