Friday, May 14, 2021

How and why messages on highway signs are created

Coordination with Governor's office and Department of Health determines safety messaging

There's a lot of thought and coordination that goes into any communication we do, whether it's on social media, on our website or on our signage. It's never one person deciding what and how to say something.

Since the beginning of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we've been instructed by the Governor's office to use our digital highway signs to support messaging about staying healthy. We are one of more than 30 states across the country using similar signs for this type of messaging. Those messages have encouraged mask use, physical distancing and, most recently, getting vaccinated. We work with the Governor's office as well as the Department of Health in crafting the messages.

While we typically use these signs for traffic messages, federal and WSDOT guidelines state they can be used for certain other circumstances, including "safety messages" and "emergency homeland security messages." Governor Inslee and President Trump, and subsequently President Biden, have declared emergencies in response to the pandemic. The Federal Highway Administration has also clarified that the use of these signs is allowed to support the current national emergency and the federal Centers for Disease Control also issued guidance for COVID-19 messages on VMS boards. Our messages follow these messaging themes.

COVID public service announcement (PSA) messaging also does not replace other messages to motorists about traffic, crash and other vital emergency information. Like other PSA messages such as DUI enforcement and seatbelt use, they do not take the place of vital emergency information. If there is a need to message about crashes, construction, congestion, etc., any PSA type messaging is bumped. 

We know some people are frustrated by highway signage featuring public health messaging. It's also easy to forget that the people who work for government agencies are human beings. If you reach out, we ask that you do so in a constructive, respectful way. We all have jobs to do, and we do them the best we can.

22 comments:

Unknown said...

My preference would be not turn Washington signs into political messages. I'd like to see only traffic warnings, fire danger near roads, weather conditions and that's about it.

Unknown said...

COVID is a public health danger. Red or Blue, 500,000 have died from COVID. That’s more than DUIs, and I don’t see you complaining about the DUI enforcement signs. Nothing political.

Unknown said...

So no DUI patrol messages? No work-zone messages? Those seem more political than a public health emergency that’s killed 500,000 Americans.

John said...

When is a public health message a political message? I'm very confused....

Daniel said...

Thank you for the important work you're doing.

Unknown said...

They should be used for traffic and safety information only, otherwise they are a distraction. Motorists have enough to deal with while driving without the unnecessary flashing messages.


Secret05 said...

It would be great if there are signs reminding that drivers keep right except to pass to reduce aggressive driving. There are there are a lack of signs reminding drivers in Seattle metro area but a lot of the VMS boards blank during off peak hours. Some Signs Could be simple as "Keep right let others pass" "Left lane Reserved for passing" "Unlawful to impede traffic in the left lane" or can be creative as "Drive right by not blocking the left" "Left lane ain't the fast lane but the pass lane" "Camp in the Mountains not the left lane" "Lots of lines during covid, Don't make another in the left lane"

Unknown said...

We all.know by now we are in a pandemic. We dont need to be told what to do by our government.

Unknown said...

I wonder if they approve my aforementioned comment because it was against the signs telling me what to do and talking about my health. But I'm sure the sensors will probably block it cuz I called out this so-called pandemic as a fraud!

Unknown said...

I agree with the previous commenter. Enough with the masking up messages as they are beyond old.

Unknown said...

Of course you didn't commit my comment. I question using these 4 uses other than weather traffic and Amber and silver alerts.

Unknown said...

I agree with you wholeheartedly. He also shouldn't be about your health either!

Unknown said...

Your excuses in the last three paragraphs are not good enough. They have nothing to do with Public Health. They have to do with traffic, weather, Amber and silver alerts!

Unknown said...

Same here....tired of the Propaganda...

Wahluke Eagles said...

It's sad to see someone see Health messages as political.

Sally John said...

Why is WADOT now marketing drugs (COVID19 shot) for Big Pharma? Does WADOT get a cut of their profits?

Sally John said...

Why is WSDOT using these signs payed for by our tax $$ to marketing drugs (COVID19 shot) for Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson? Does WSDOT get a cut of these drug company's profits?!

These types of messages are also very distracting to the driver as they are hard to read. These messages are completely unrelated to safe driving.

Liz Bresee said...

Public health messages should also include reminders to lose weight, exercise, eat your veggies, and get 8 hours of sleep at night. Inspirational and motivational messages would also help declining mental health. A reminder that Mother’s Day was approaching would have been helpful.

trapped behind enemy lines in WA said...

Please discontinue the politically motivated childish, condescending COVID and other topical messages. We only need traffic warnings, Amber and Silver alerts, not carrots and sticks designed to 'motivate' us to do the right thing or cutesy little slogans. We are independent and adult enough to determine the right thing for ourselves and our families.

Unknown said...

Here is why I don't want COVID information on the sign. Does anyone here really think the signs are telling you something you don't already know? This is virtue signaling at its worst. I want the signs to tell me stuff about traffic I don't know. Alerts to what's ahead, traffic information. Stuff that's actually useful!

Telling me to mask up the 101th time doesn't make it more effective than the 100th time in saw it everywhere else. This should be common sense, but some here still want to virtue signal their way to "well you can't be too careful." It's where I draw the line. Tell me what I don't know, not what's been screamed at me every hour of the day on every other form of media. Ask a simple question before you turn on the sign, are we simply telling people stuff they already know just to feel better about ourselves, or are we actually doing something. The answer is clearly no.

Lisa Olson said...

I prefer traffic and energetic alerts ONLY. I find the cax request to be inappropriate. Also, the one displayed during the fall holiday season was quite negative with a feeling of being threatened.

Lisa Olson said...

I prefer traffic and energetic alerts ONLY. I find the cax request to be inappropriate. Also, the one displayed during the fall holiday season was quite negative with a feeling of being threatened.

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