Phoenix residents Jim Atkinson and Ashley Servatius were chosen by the Arizona Department of Transportation as the winners of the freeway-sign contest. Atkinson’s and Servatius’ signs will be shown on freeway signs in the Phoenix area and around the state.

Motorists cruising along Phoenix-area freeways this weekend should take special note when glancing at those freeway message signs.

The Arizona Department of Transportation announced two winners in their safety-message contest on Friday morning. This weekend, they each will have their suggested slogans featured on the iconic ADOT message boards that hover over freeways.

The winners were chosen from 20 finalists. Their messages will be displayed on ADOT overhead electronic message signs in the Phoenix area and across Arizona over the next three days.

And the winners are …

Phoenix residents Jim Atkinson and Ashley Servatius, the contest winners, had different reasons for entering.

“I drive the same route every single day and I see the same people doing the same things,” said Atkinson, referring to his drive on the Loop 101 freeway. “People putting on makeup, everything like that. HOV violators go by and it bothers me, so I saw the contest and I decided to go ahead and enter with my clever, uh, clever slogan.”

Atkinson’s slogan, “Single in HOV? Get a real date, not a court date,” appeared on ADOT message boards in the Phoenix area starting at 11:30 a.m. Friday until 7 p.m. and will reappear on Monday during the same times.

Servatius, whose message reads, “That’s the temperature, not the speed limit,” had her message displayed on ADOT signs statewide starting Friday morning at 11:30 a.m. until 7 p.m. and will appear through Sunday at 7 p.m.

Atkinson’s slogan will be seen only in the Valley because HOV lanes are not present throughout the state.

“This was an inside joke between my friend and I,” said Servatius. “She saw the temperature of 101 degrees on my dashboard and thought I was driving that fast.”

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Contest gets huge response

Doug Pacey, communications project manager for ADOT, addressed the media from the control room of ADOT’s Phoenix office.

“We wanted to give Arizonans a chance to kind of suggest the messages they wanted to see on safety signs and then vote for them, too,” he said.

According to Pacey, the contest opened in early February and by Day 2, the agency had 3,500 entries.

“It kind of blew our minds a little bit,” he said. “Originally we had planned to go with 15 finalists and one winner, though when we got 3,500 entries in the first 24 hours we went to 20 finalists and two winners.”

Pacey said it took ADOT about a week to go through the total of 6,700 entries. After narrowing it down to 20 finalists, ADOT asked the public to vote on them, which resulted in the selection of the two winners.

“There were some vulgar ones with curse words that didn’t get to it, of course,” he said. “I think whenever we work up a safety message that’s going to go on our overhead signs statewide we were careful of not offending groups, whatever group it is. You know this is a good thing, we want to promote safety, we don’t want to make it a negative.”

The messages were confined to three 18-character lines for a total length of 54 characters, much shorter than the average tweet.


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