Maryland Highway Officials Remove Road Sign Distraction

Beltway travel-time message considered a driving distraction

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
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    Is reading slowing you down on the Beltway?

    Some motorists blame some Beltway backups on those flashing, electronic travel-time messages -- the ones that tell you how long it’ll take to get front point A to point B.

    Earlier this month, the State Highway Administration began expanding use of the real-time travel signs in places like the eastern section of the Capital Beltway and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. However, earlier this week, the SHA took messages off a sign along the Outer Loop near Route 450/Annapolis Road in Prince George’s County, according to SHA spokesman David Buck, who spoke to the Associated Press.

    According to reports on WTOP Radio, commuters were complaining about traffic slowing or practically stopping near some signs.

    “People naturally slow down to read the signs and consequently slow traffic to a crawl,” complained one listener.

    The SHA even agreed.

    “The data did indicate congestion in the area of that particular sign,” said Buck, referring to the sign near Route 450.

    In an interview on WTOP Wednesday, Gov. Martin O'Malley said the state should stop displaying real-time travel information if it's distracting drivers.

    The SHA is continuing to monitor the signs, which are now posted along I-495, I-95 and I-695. The challenge is to try to balance the need to get up-to-date travel information to motorists -- without slowing them down and backing them up.