God forbid New Jersey does something to more effectively get people to pay attention to safety messages on highways. We can’t have that, right?

At least the federal government can’t.

Not long ago the New Jersey Department of Transportation got snarky with their hundreds of electronic highway signs and commuters have been loving them. Instead of the boring-therefore-forgettable safety messages like Drive Sober Or Get Pulled Over, Click It or Ticket, etc., they went funny.

For weeks we’ve been seeing gems like…

We’ll Be Blunt…Don’t Drive High

Nice Car…Does It Come With A Turn Signal?

Get Your Head Out Of Your App

Slow Down…This Ain’t Thunder Road

They’ve been talked about. They’ve been effective. As of Wednesday afternoon they’ve been stopped.


According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Federal Highway Administration contacted the NJDOT and told them to knock it off.

Yet no other state that has been doing the same thing was told to stop, not as of this writing anyway. Which is odd because NJDOT Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti says she got the idea from Delaware and they’ve been doing snarky signs like these since 2017. How are they doing it for five years and we’re the ones told to stop? Are we just that much better at sarcasm in Jersey? Too edgy?

I would doubt it. Because Pennsylvania is another state that’s doing this and they have one out for the holidays reading: Only Rudolph Should Drive Lit — Plan A Sober Ride.

So what gives? We’re still waiting to find out.

When contacted, all the Federal Highway Administration would say is to circle back to the NJDOT. The NJDOT confirms the Philadelphia Inquirer story is accurate. So was the NJDOT not even told why they were told to turn off the road signs? Unclear.

This is complete bulls**! though. I assume the NJDOT is obeying because at some level the feds can control federal highway dollars.

Some callers to the Deminski & Doyle show Thursday smelled a conspiracy, positing that perhaps Gov. Murphy wanting to run for president in 2024 feels the signs might seem undignified and come back to haunt him. I wouldn’t think that holds up because he could have just ordered his own DOT to stop and not backdoor it through a favor from the feds. Plus the same fun sarcasm has been in play on the state of New Jersey Twitter account for a long time.

Whatever the reason, the feds getting involved is uncalled for. And if we remain the only state called out for this someone damn well needs to explain.

If I were in charge of NJDOT I would have sent a message to the feds by changing all electronic signs for the entire weekend to:

This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski only.

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