ICYMI: New Jersey's Funny Signs Spark Trend
Aside from fans of Jersey Shore, New Jersey isn’t often synchronous with “trend-setting.” However, NJDOT went viral last year, inspiring other states to get creative with their safety signage. Their snarky, pithy, and sometimes silly sayings caused an uproar that has since spread across the nation—though not everyone agreed with their attention-grabbing methods.
Here’s an example of some of the most memorable—or maybe just viral—signs NJDOT displayed last year:
"We'll be blunt – don't drive high."
"Hold onto your butts – help prevent forest fires."
"Nice car – did it come with a turn signal?"
"Get your head out of your apps."
"Hocus Pocus, drive with focus."
Signs from the NJ Interstates spread across Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter, ending up in short-form videos as transit aficionados shared their appreciation for these signs on Instagram, TikTok, and Youtube. Unfortunately, being an adult doesn’t mean that you’re allowed to have fun, and the Federal Highway Administration decided to bring the fun to an end.
After only a month of creative reminders and lol-worthy one-liners to buckle up and watch your speed, Robert Clark scolded NJ highway officials in saying the signs should “promote the safe and efficient use of the roadway, does not serve a highway purpose, is inconsistent with both law and regulations and increases the liability risk to the owner of the roadway facility.”
“We need to have ways to refresh messages and change and innovate to reach new audiences,” said Martin, a representative from an organization that represents state traffic safety agencies. The intention is that people will be more likely to stop and read a changing sign with a slogan or saying that also entertains or draws a laugh from the reader.
The opposition is concerned that these signs are distracting, especially with people pulling out their phones at high speeds trying to take photos of a sign that successfully HAS caught their attention. After some back and forth, there’s been some leniency, but this solution only raises questions on the subjectivity of humor: who determines what’s “too funny” and what’s “just funny enough” for the interstate?
In the meantime, let’s share a laugh at some of the winners.