PHOENIX – Elise Riker of Chandler and Mesa's Gina Finkelstein have something to say to drivers around the state about safety, and they are going to do it in a big way over the Labor Day weekend.
Riker and Finkelstein were the top votegetters in the Arizona Department of Transportation's annual Safety Message Contest and their words will be posted on overhead freeway signs throughout the state.
Thousands of votes were cast by the public last month for 10 message finalists. The two winning traffic safety messages are:
THE VIBE CHECK
I’M JUST A SIGN
ASKING A DRIVER TO
USE TURN SIGNALS
The authors of the winning messages were invited to ADOT’s Traffic Operations Center in Phoenix to type their traffic safety message into the Dynamic Message Sign system and see them go live via highway cameras.
Both winning messages will appear on overhead message boards statewide through the weekend.
Riker, a business professor at Arizona State University, said she hopes her message "makes people chuckle and happy that they are wearing a seatbelt: You pass the vibe check,” she said.
Finkelstein, a software support engineer, was inspired by the 1999 film, “Notting Hill” when she created her winning traffic safety message.
“Using turn signals before you turn makes you a total star,” she said, “just like Julia Roberts in ‘Notting Hill,’ only bigger and better.”
“Seeing thousands of Arizonans participate in our Safety Message Contest, from creating their own messages to voting for other safety messages, is exciting and a positive for all of us,” ADOT Director Jennifer Toth said.
“The purpose of the contest is to kick-start conversations about making better decisions behind the wheel, so everyone can reach their destination safely.”
During the first phase of the contest, 3,700 entries were submitted. Those entries were whittled down to 10 finalists, and a public vote last month determined the winners.
ADOT displays safety messages on overhead signs as part of an effort to change driver behavior and encourage motorists to make better decisions while driving, transportation officials said.
According to national statistics, driver behavior, like choosing to speed, driving distracted, impaired or reckless, plays a role in more than 90% of vehicle crashes.