'Texting and driving? Oh, cell no!': City of Calgary hopes snarky signs keep you looking

Road signs usually warn of construction delays, lane closures or collisions ahead and rarely make motorists smile.

The City of Calgary is trying to upend that through its Traffic Tuesday program.

Fortunate drivers may have noticed one of the 18 electronic message boards on Calgary roads sporting messages ranging from 'Camp in the Rockies, not the left lane' to 'Do you like surprises? Try shoulder checking'.

The messages are designed to fall into one of three categories: driver pet peeves, pop culture references, and local events. All are timed to reflect current events in the city.

“Last week, we had “Camp in the Rockies and Not in the Left Lane’, because we knew everyone would be heading out of town on July 1," said Calgary Roads spokesperson Tara Norton-Merrin. “Then this week, we know that Stampede is kicking off soon, and a lot of people are gonna be partaking maybe in a little bit more than usual, so we came up with a drinking and driving one.”

The first sign started flashing its message on May 4 — dubbed 'Star Wars Day' by aficionados of the sci-fi movie series— that read 'Baby Yoda uses the force but still needs a car seat'.

“And that kind of caught people a little by surprise, but I think they thought it was a one off for Star Wars Day, and we got a lot of comments that day, and people like loving the message," said  Norton-Merrin.

“So now we've been running the program every Tuesday since.”

City officials say the signs are aimed at putting smiles on faces, noting that happy drivers are generally safer drivers.

“A lot of different studies that have been done that kind of show if you're in a really negative mood, that you might drive more aggressively, cut people off, that sort of thing,” said Norton-Merrin.

“So the idea is, you know, maybe someone's not having the best day we can put a little smile on their face. And maybe that improves their driving."

The city's transportation department is also taking submissions from the public for messages. 

It's hoping its first citizen submission will be flashing on screens on July 13, and will have a stampede theme. If you want your slogan in lights on a major roadway you can submit it here.

Remember to keep your message submission family-friendly as they’ll likely be seen by tykes in the backseat who might be making a game out of spotting the 'punny' signs.