HOUSTON – If you commute from the suburbs to Houston you’re bound to run into traffic.
During the rush hour commutes a few miles that should take minutes to drive, multiple into hours.
Holly Seltz began carpooling with DeeDee Jones a decade ago. They wanted to save money, use the HOV Lane and avoid traffic.
The women giggled when asked who has the shorter temper during Houston traffic. But the laughter transitions into expletives and hand gestures as soon as the women travel east along Interstate 10. Signs help.
“I found them at the 99-cent Store,” said Jones of several 8 x 10 laminated signs with targeted messages printed on either side. “Her birthday was coming up, so I knew that would be a perfect birthday present for her.”
The year’s old signs survived coffee and the hands of embarrassed children who’ve tried to hide the black and white messages.
“My husband hates the signs,” sighed Jones.
Her spouse is part of an informal club of drivers who’ve expressed mixed reactions to the signs flashed when a driver is distracted by their phone, grooming, food or books.
“Every kind of reaction you can think of. One time we were on Clay Road and kind of in a slow area and a lady got out of her car and came back. We just locked the doors and smiled, like she was going to beat us up or something,” said Seltz. “I know there’s times I say to DeeDee, they’re going to kill themselves. It’s not my responsibility, but it really scares me for the young kids.”
Nationwide, the National Transportation Safety Board reports more than 3,000 people died in distracted driving wrecks in 2014. More than 400,000 others were hurt in the same year.
“We’ve seen people go up on curves. Almost hit the car beside them or in front of them,” said Jones as she gripped the steering wheel of a black sedan. “It’s very frustrating.”
And when asked if their 99 cent signs are a distraction too, “We hope not,” said Jones. “We hope that they just read the sign and do what they’re supposed to do and drive on. That’s our point.”