On my way back from hawking the other day, I encountered one of those massive electronic signs on the motorway—hardly noteworthy, as they have become ubiquitous—except that I was struck yet again by how misused they typically are.
PREPARE TO STOP
is useful, I admit.
WINTER WEATHER CONDITIONS
DRIVE WITH CAUTION
could I suppose be useful as well, although one would think most motorists would have noticed already. But as often as not, these signs bear messages—multi-screen messages, mind you, with each screen displayed for several seconds to accommodate the slowest reader in the fast lane—along the lines of
HELLO, I'M AN
ENORMOUS ELECTRONIC SIGN
PLEASE READ ME AND ALSO
DISTRACTED DRIVING IS BAD.
(Have these DOT people never heard of the Stroop-Stirling effect? You can't really opt out of reading these things, not without a great deal of conscious effort, anyway.)
But the one that triggers my ire, despite its brevity, is CLICK IT OR TICKET. Really, that's the best we can do to promote the use of safety belts, CLICK IT OR TICKET? Pathetic.
Allow me to suggest an alternative. It would really work best as a PSA on the radio, read in an authoritative voice...British accent...hint of menace. I'm thinking Mark Strong, or maybe Vinnie Jones. But if DOT want to put it on a big flashy sign, I reckon the precedent is there... Anyway, here it is:
SEAT BELTS ARE SAFETY DEVICES
THE REASON TO CHECK THEM ALL TWICE IS
TO AVOID A CITATION
OR A DEFENESTRATION
'CAUSE YOU DON'T WANT TO PAY THOSE STEEP PRICES