No more funny business. Comedy-flavored electronic messages on highways and freeways will soon go in the way of the dodo. By 2026, federal officials aim to do away with humorous signs throughout the country.
Driving on Texas highways is no joke. In order to keep these highways and freeways as safe as possible, officials feature signs up and down the state with messages informing drivers of accidents, hazardous weather conditions, and general safety reminders.
Occasionally, there’s the cheeky sign that provides a sense of levity to an experience otherwise doleful or worse, anxiety-inducing.
You’ve seen the signs before. Comedy-spirited electronic messages featured on highways across the country. Messages like: BUCKLE UP WINDSHIELDS HURT, SLOW DOWN THIS AIN’T THUNDER ROAD, or WE’LL BE BLUNT DON’T DRIVE HIGH.
In the 11h edition of the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways (MUTCD), an over-a-thousand-page manual released this past month, the U.S. Federal Highway Administration, a part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, outlined new regulations regarding traffic control devices and highway signs. The new regulations effectively ban comedic traffic signs, labelling them distractions.
The new regulations state that signs should be used solely for accidents ahead, traffic delays, or hazardous weather conditions.
“Messages with obscure or secondary meanings,” the manual reads, “such as those with popular culture references, unconventional sign legend syntax, or that are intended to be humorous, should not be used as they might be misunderstood or understood only by a limited segment of road users and require greater time to process and understand.”
“The new MUTCD gives greater consideration to all road users, who deserve to be safe when traveling on our streets and roads,” Federal Highway Administrator, Shailen Bhatt stated in a press release. “It will also help improve the public’s travel experience whether driving on an Interstate or crossing the street in cities and towns across America.”