Looking for yet another new and innovative way to remind drivers of the serious threat of dust storms, the Arizona Department of Transportation is asking everyone to submit their own haiku, with explicit instructions that they concern the dangers of these storms.
Once collected, the haiku will be posted on signs and used as part of a ADOT public service program.
In Arizona these dust storms, or haboobs, happen mostly during the dry summer months. They sometimes cover hundreds of miles, blanketing everything in a thick coat of sand and completely blocking out the sun for hours. Drivers will find themselves quickly overtaken by the fast moving storms, unable to see or navigate and without any sense of direction. These storms also block telecommunications networks, so drivers who are relying on a GPS device will soon discover they have no connection at all.
This is not the first time a department of transportation has used poetry to get a message across to drivers. The state of New York and New York City in particular have each effectively used poetry to remind drivers about various traffic and driving safety concerns.
The haiku challenge — part of ADOT’s “Pull Aside Stay Alive” campaign on safe driving in monsoon season, which officially starts today — represents a departure from the dry public-service ads of the past.
“We’ve never done anything like this before, so we weren’t sure what to expect, and this is something different from the government,” said Timothy Tait, ADOT’s assistant communication director and self-proclaimed “Twittermaster.” His team came up with the idea.
“It’s taking a humorous, lighthearted approach for a serious topic,” Tait said.