This story is sponsored by Zero Fatalities. Learn more about Zero Fatalities.
Every year, traffic crashes kill over 30,000 people and injure about two million people nationwide. In 94 percent of these crashes, human error is to blame. Encouraging Utah drivers to stay safe and alert on the road can often be mundane and boring. Luckily, Utah has found a way to encourage good driving behaviors and get a good laugh at the same time. The Utah Department of Transportation’s Variable Message System (VMS) provides witty reminders regarding the five deadly driving behaviors. Here are a few of their most popular messages.
Note: Zero Fatalities appreciates the enthusiasm for the VMS signs, but we also want to give you a friendly reminder that photos should never be taken while driving. Any photos taken should be from a passenger or from a stopped vehicle safely away from the freeway. Be safe out there.
“You’re not a firework, don’t drive lit”
In 2015, 10,265 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes. In 2016, Utah crash statistics show that driving under the influence of alcohol/drugs (over-the-counter, prescription and illegal) caused 77 fatalities. This tongue-in-cheek VMS reminded Independence Day partiers to not get behind the wheel while impaired.
“Camp in the mountains, not the left lane”
In Utah, the law states that slower traffic must stay to the right. However, you often see cars going under the speed limit in the left lane. Variance in speed is a great risk on highways for car crashes. If every car going the speed limit has to slow down to pass you in the right lane and then speed back up, there is a higher risk of car crashes and traffic jams. That means going slower than the speed limit can be just as dangerous as going over the speed limit.
“Groot, put your seatbelt on”
In a crash, unbuckled passengers can become a projectile and increase the risk of hurting or killing others in the car by 40 percent. This quote, from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, was a timely VMS message that reminded drivers to buckle their seat belt. While Baby Groot is quite small, he can still cause a lot of damage if unbuckled.
“Get your head out of your apps”
One in four crashes stem from distracted driving. Manipulating your phone while driving isn’t only dangerous, but is also illegal in the state of Utah. Put down the phone—your Snapchat feed can wait until you’re out of the car.
“Game six, time to buckle up”
The Jazz were ready to rumble and so was UDOT when it came to increasing seat belt usage. In 2016, there were 86 unrestrained fatalities on Utah roads. Wearing a seat belt is the single most effective thing you can do to save your life if you’re in a car crash.
“You had me at ‘I don’t text and drive’”
As Dorothy from Jerry Maguire would say, these five words could make you fall in love with someone. Texting while driving is one of the most dangerous habits you can pick up as a driver. In fact, texting and driving is just as bad as driving while intoxicated twice the legal limit.
“Don’t Pokémon and drive”
This timely VMS came out after the release of Pokémon Go. Every time you look at your phone while driving, you average 4.6 seconds with your eyes off of the road. This equates to the length of a football field at 60 mph. Catching that Charizard isn’t worth a car crash.
“Deck the halls, not the guy who cut you off”
Aggressive driving is a big deal. In 2016, Utah crash statistics show that aggressive driving and speeding caused 76 fatalities. Remember to drive assertive, not aggressive.
“Buckle up #YOLO”
There’s a reason why you must click it or ticket. Over the last five years, almost half of all people who died on Utah roads weren’t buckled. Saving your life could be as simple as buckling up.
Unfortunately, not all of the VMS signs can be fun and games. As of Aug. 10, 65 fatalities have occurred on Utah roads. This daunting message is broadcast across all VMS signs during the course of Utah’s “100 Deadliest Days” to remind drivers that there are real consequences from deadly driving behaviors. Stay safe, stay alert and stay buckled. If you don’t, one of the VMS signs will remind you.