‘You’re not Rudolph, don’t drive lit’: Festive signs in Washington promote safe-driving tips

It’s a sign of the holiday season.

The Washington State Department of Transportation is promoting traffic safety with Christmas-themed message boards.

Drivers in the Spokane area are being treated to signs that read, “You’re not Rudolph, don’t drive lit,” and “Don’t drive Blitzen, use a sober driver.”

"We're trying a pilot program to do more safety messages to get drivers' attention and remind them of safe driving habits," Ryan Overton, communications specialist for the WSDOT, wrote in a blog Monday.

Overton said the new messages are being flashed on Interstate 90, U.S. 2, U.S. 395 and U.S. 195.

In his WSDOT blog, Overton wrote that the routes were targeted because of several fatalities. About 17% of the fatalities were related to distracted driving, 7% were right-of-way or unsafe passing incidents, while 7% was due to drivers sleeping behind the wheel.

In previous years, the electronic signs have been used for AmberAlerts or traffic accident notices.

"It's no more than a speed limit sign or other warning signs along the highway and it gets people talking," Overton told KREM-TV.

Still, holiday signs to remind motorists of safe driving are getting their share of attention. Police in Freetown, Massachusetts, posted a sign that used rewritten lyrics to the Christmas classic, "Santa Claus is Coming to Town."

In Spokane, the WSDOT's most popular message references the 1983 cult film, "A Christmas Story," tweaking a memorable phrase from the movie: "Ralphie, put down phone, you'll txt your eye out!"

"By using more creative and relatable messaging we are reaching a larger audience and able to cut through the white noise of typical messaging and get people talking about it," Overton wrote in the WSDOT blog. "We also try to keep the number of days they are up limited to keep them fresh and noticeable."

The signs will maintain their holiday theme through Jan. 2, Overton said.

Until then, “Santa is watching, put down the phone.”

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