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IDOT snarky message board

An Iowa Department of Transportation message board displaying an anti-distracted driving message is shown Feb. 9 over southbound Interstate 29 south of the Riverside Boulevard interchange. Officials hope the catchy signs will get the message across while prompting lively discussion around the water cooler.

SIOUX CITY | You'll find one of these sassy signs while driving on the interstate near Sioux City.

The Iowa Department of Transportation makes them catchy and snarky – all in the name of safety. This week a sign in Sioux City parodies a popular song by artist Meghan Trainor.

“The approach we’re trying now seems to really be working,” said Tracey Bramble, a spokeswoman for the IDOT in Ames, Iowa. “We want them to work and (promote) talk around the water cooler.”

In Sioux City, north of Hamilton Boulevard on Interstate 29, a sign reads: “It’s all about the belt … the belt … just click it.” The sign is a nod to Trainor’s song “All About That Bass.” The department even filmed a video parody of the song.

Bramble said the signs are part an IDOT program called Zero Fatalities. While the department launched the program in June, the signs have been around since October 2013. The department gave its Zero Fatalities website a makeover in February.

The messages change each week and correlate to one of five driving categories – speeding and aggressive, impaired, distracted, drowsy or seat belts.

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The signs received notable attention in October when actor George Takei, who portrayed Mr. Sulu on “Star Trek,” shared an IDOT sign on Facebook that said, “Get your head out of your apps.” The post has more than 213,000 likes and more than 48,000 shares.

There are 90 permanent signs in Iowa. Two are located on I-29 in Sioux City. Another is located east of the city on U.S. Highway 20 near Buchanan Avenue. The last sign is on U.S. Highway 77 toward South Sioux City.

Bramble said the IDOT even takes suggestions through social media from citizens who have an idea for a catchy sign.

“They certainly get the attention of the driver and hopefully get them thinking about safer interaction in the vehicle,” said Dakin Schultz, a traffic planner for the IDOT in Sioux City. “These signs don’t detract from your attention on the roadway (because) it’s a part of your peripheral vision.”

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