DOT highway signs tell drivers “Get Your Head Out of Your Apps”

A recent message from Iowa Interstate displays posted by the Iowa DOT.A recent message from Iowa Interstate displays posted by the Iowa DOT.

In an effort to convince drivers to slow down and focus on the road, several state departments of transportation are turning to the permanent digital displays hanging over Interstates across the country. And they’re beginning to come up with some pretty clever slogans to catch drivers’ eyes.

At the forefront is a phrase first used in Iowa that proved so clever that the Tennessee DOT has used it as well. According to a report from KCCI TV, the Iowa DOT instructed drivers to, “Get Your Head Out of Your Apps,” on a Monday in September. Each Monday the Iowa DOT puts up an eye-catching message with the latest highway fatality numbers.

The state DOTs are even working together to generate and share these phrases. This past week, the Tennessee DOT began running a modified version of the “apps” message, “Eyes on the Road and Head Out of Your Apps,” according to a report from The Tennesseean. Like Iowa, Tennessee posts fatality figures, updating them every Friday for drivers to see.

Tennessee DOT spokesperson Heather Jensen told The Tennesseean the messages are meant to grab drivers’ attention and raise awareness to the number of highway deaths each year. “A clever message can get people talking and having a conversation—even for a minute,” Jensen told the paper.

And while some drivers could argue that posting funny messages to these display can actually be seen as a distraction, the signs are used for much more than this awareness campaign. The DOTs also use the displays to post information about road conditions, accidents and special events, The Tennesseean reports.