You know the signs.
If you were on an interstate around Thanksgiving, you might have seen one encouraging drivers to fasten their seat belts with the phrase "Buckling Up Can Save Your Giblets." Around Columbus Day, it might have read "Discover Your Turn Signal."
More generic roadside advice is deliver (via dad jokes) year round: "Camp in the Ozarks ... Not the Left Lane" or "Treat the Road Like a Cat Video ... Share It."
Rep. Tony Lovasco isn't laughing.
The Republican from O'Fallon filed a bill that would prohibit the Missouri Department of Transportation from using the "dynamic message signs" mounted along state highways to convey anything other than traffic conditions, weather or emergency alerts.
It's not because he hates fun, or at least, that's not what he said in an interview. Lovasco readily concedes there are more important bills for the legislature to consider, like one he's filed that he says would stop federal officials from bypassing the state's protections against police seizure of property.
He just thinks MoDOT should be sharing more useful information, like the up-to-the-minute data on road conditions that wowed him on a recent tour of department facilities.
"Those signs are hideously expensive, and MoDOT has a lot of incredibly detailed information they could share," he said. "But rather than sharing that information with people, they make puns about Santa Claus."
(It's not a pun, but a Dec. 9 MoDOT tweet shows a sign reading: "Santa's Coming ... Have You Been a Good Driver.")
Lovasco said he would rather see more of what he's seen in recent days with snow and ice complicating commutes around the state, including in his neck of the woods.
"They've done a good job with letting people know about accidents ahead," he said. "That helps drivers, and that's what I'd like to see more of."
Jon Nelson, assistant to the State Highway Safety and Traffic Engineer, said MoDOT displays that sort of information whenever needed.
But he pointed out that when the roads are clear, there's no need for those kinds of warnings and MoDOT has an opportunity to promote safer driving.
"When it's not being used for those critical things, we take the opportunity to let people know about simple things they can do to make Missouri a safer place to drive," Nelson said.
Lovasco doesn't see it. When the skies and roads are clear, he said the signs don't have to say anything.
"They don't have to be on all the time," he said.
MoDOT has no plans to turn them off themselves, though.
Nelson said the public response to the signs has been "predominantly positive" and that federal research suggests drivers notice the messages and think about what they've read.
That's exactly what MoDOT wants.
"We like to think that it's making an impact," Nelson said.
The 2020 legislative session convenes Jan. 8 in Jefferson City.
The legislation is House Bill 1779.