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CONTACT:  Marissa Monroy, Austin Transportation Department, Office: (512) 974-6584


ATD kicks off contest for digital roadway messages with local flair

Winning messages will be displayed on major Austin roads
Austin is a creative place, so why shouldn’t our roadway messages be, too? The Austin Transportation Department (ATD) wants your help in coming up with clever driving and safety tips to display on electronic roadway signs all over town. To do this, ATD is kicking off a month-long competition for short messages that use a pinch of local flavor to keep drivers informed and safe – and maybe even make them “LOL.”

Contestants have from today, Jan. 9, through Friday, Feb. 10, to submit their ideas to or tweet them to @AustinMobility using the #ontheroadATX hashtag. ATD’s esteemed judges will then review the submissions and announce the winners. Submit a message before the deadline and you might see it next time you’re on the road!

Winning messages will be displayed on Dynamic Message Signs, which are digital signs the City of Austin uses to inform drivers about construction, road conditions and traffic laws as well as remind them about safety and mobility initiatives. For example, they might let drivers know that a lane is closed up ahead, inform visitors about Austin’s Hands-Free or Don’t Block the Box traffic laws, or remind drivers to watch for cyclists and pedestrians.

Lately, ATD has been coming up with ways to keep these messages interesting so that they are noticed, but it’s a fun challenge that we thought y’all might enjoy, too. Here's an example of one we put up recently:
Click the image above if it does not appear as an animation.

Winners will get their submissions added to the rotation of messages Austinites will see on major roads such as Cesar Chavez Street, Guadalupe Street, Lamar Boulevard, Riverside Drive, South First Street and others. Those who submit their messages on Twitter will also get a screenshot tweeted by @AustinMobility and tagged so that people can know their work by name. Runners up will get their messages mocked up and tweeted, but not displayed on the road.

You get up to two alternating panels of text with up to three lines of text per panel and a maximum of 14 characters per line. It’s kind of like a digital haiku that helps keep Austin’s roads safe and traffic moving. Here’s a guide:
PANEL 1 PANEL 2 (optional)

__________ (up to 14 characters)
__________ (up to 14 characters)
__________ (up to 14 characters)
__________ (up to 14 characters)
__________ (up to 14 characters)
__________ (up to 14 characters)

Winning submissions will refer to a local, statewide, or national mobility or safety initiative; traffic law; or common road condition that drivers should know about, such as road work ahead. You may use commonly understood abbreviations and shorthand (R U 4 real?), but no profanity or inappropriate material. You’ll get bonus points for local cultural references – think live music, cult films, barbecue, breakfast tacos, bats, artists and hometown heroes. Austin has plenty to choose from.

Here are some examples of messages that ATD staff members have come up with. Can you do better?
  • MAMMAS DON’T LET UR BABIES TEXT & DRIVE (Willie Nelson, anybody?)
  • ON THE ROAD AGAIN, BUCKLE YOUR BELT (More Willie and a little Texas cowboy in there, too!)
  • LANE CLOSURE AHEAD, ALL RIGHT ALL RIGHT ALL RIGHT (Matthew McConaughey in the house!)
  • DON’T BE A SLACKER. BUCKLE UP! (Slacker - It’s a weird film about a weird place.)
  • SEE MUSIC LIVE, BUT DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE (Do we need to explain this one?)
Below is a list of the laws, campaigns and messages ATD wants drivers to know about:
  • Austin’s Hands-Free Ordinance – Keep your hands off your phone and on the wheel
  • Vision Zero – Austin’s plan to end traffic fatalities by 2025
  • ATD’s Don’t Block the Box initiative – Don’t pull into a backed-up intersection
  • End the Streak (the Texas Department of Transportation’s traffic fatality mitigation campaign)
  • Notifications about lane closures, construction and detours
  • Reminders to watch out for motorcycles, cyclists and pedestrians
  • Reminders to exercise caution in school zones
  • Reminders not to drink and drive
  • Reminders to buckle up
  • Reminders to use a blinker before turning or changing lanes
  • Anything that we forgot!
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