Clever road signs promote safer driving in Virginia

Ludacris, Valentine’s Day, and the Star-Spangled Banner may not seem to have much in common – but apparently, they’re all helping keep drivers safe in Virginia. The reason being--all three were topics on changeable message signs that appear to be working.

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"It is 100 percent about safety," Virginia Department of Transportation Chief Deputy Commissioner Rob Cary told Fox 5 Wednesday while discussing the signs that hang above major roadways with messages like, "Don’t drive star-spangled hammered" and "Driving Fast and Furious? That’s Ludacris."

Cary explained that VDOT commissioned a study to evaluate whether the clever messages actually worked. He presented the findings to the Commonwealth Transportation Board Tuesday, as DCist previously reported.

To conduct the study, Virginia Tech researchers showed 300 drivers the messages, measured their brain function, and then surprised the study participants by asking which messages they could remember.

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"Cognitively we could see a difference," explained Associate Professor Tripp Shealy. "Certain types of messages elicited more blood flow to the brain than other types of messages."

As a result, Cary said the creative signs aren’t going away any time soon.

"To cut through the noise with a message that actually connects," he explained, "that’s a real accomplishment in today’s world."