Information signs bring traffic to halt in South Carolina

| 8/9/2005

A highway notification system designed to keep vehicles moving brought traffic to a halt in South Carolina during the weekend.

On Saturday, Aug. 6, two inmates escaped from a jail in Lexington County, SC, and were suspected to be in the Charlotte area.

But the two escapees weren’t what stalled traffic on Interstate 77. It was the long-winded description of the men on the overhead highway information signs.

According to the Charlotte Observer, two message boards within a few miles of each other displayed the following wording: “WANTED,” “ESCAPEES,” “WHT INTREPID,” “RD TOYOTA TRK,” “JMA-2304 VA TAG” and “CALL 911 IF SEEN.”

Although the state tries to enforce a “less is more” strategy for its electronic highway signs, even the technicians who entered the information into the signs said they could see traffic slowing down and eventually coming to a halt as drivers tried to digest all of the information.

“We saw them slow down because it was such a strange message,” Ann Lorscheider, an engineer with the South Carolina Intelligent Transportation Systems division, told the Observer.