Mesa couple win ADOT highway message board contest The Mesa Tribune | The Hometown Newspaper for the city of Mesa, AZ

Mesa couple win ADOT highway message board contest

Mesa couple win ADOT highway message board contest
City News

Tribune Executive Editor

The next time you’re cruising Arizona highways and see a message board that reads like something from Dr. Seuss, think of Paula and Scott Cullymore of Mesa.

They submitted one of two winning entries in the Arizona Department of Transportation’s annual message board contest.

More than 4,000 messages were submitted this year, according to ADOT, which whittled the entries down to 12 finalists and then asked the public to vote on the winners.

The Cullymores’ message:  “Red Fish, Blue Fish, Speeding’s Foolish.”

Since Thanksgiving weekend 2017, ADOT has used quirky unconventional safety messages on its Dynamic Message Signs to change driver behavior and encourage motorists to make better decisions.

According to national statistics, driver behavior – such as speeding or driving distracted, impaired or reckless – plays a role in more than 90 percent of crashes.

Scott Cullymore, who tools around Valley highways in his Mister Carpet truck – his cleaning business – credits the couple’s winning message to his wife.

Paula is a kindergarten teacher at Mesa Public Schools’ Pomeroy Elementary in Chandler.

“It was almost to the deadline and I asked my wife, who’s a kindergarten teacher, if she had any ideas,” Scott said. “She said, ‘This week is Dr. Seuss Week,’ and that’s how the message came to be. She gets all the credit.”

Smart behavior isn’t new to Scott, though.

He hikes every day at Camelback Mountain, where he is known as the “Water Angel on Camelback.”

“I give out water to the people who don’t bring enough,” he said.

The Cullymores, who have three grown children, have lived in Mesa for 35 years.

They’re hopeful the message results in fewer speeders.

“This message is short and fast and you can read it almost without thinking,” Scott said. “Hopefully, it sticks with people.”

The identity of the author of the other winning message – “Signal and Ready to Mingle” – is unknown. Contest entrants have the option to remain anonymous and this is the first time in four years one was selected without an author, ADOT said.

“We’ve been amazed at the level of public interest each time we’ve held this contest and this year is no different,” ADOT Director John Halikowski said. “Thousands of Arizonans sent us their messages and thousands more voted for their favorite.

“The purpose of displaying unconventional safety messages is to get people engaged and talking about making safer and smarter decisions behind the wheel,” he added. “In that respect, this effort is a success.”

ADOT’s safety messages frequently reference pop culture, local events and holidays because those things are front-of-mind for many people.

And while it may be a while before the Cullymore’s entry – in three rows of 18 characters, each 18 inches tall – appears on the 193 overhead message boards ADOT maintains, including 108 in the Phoenix area and 15 around Tucson.

Currently, message boards are displaying regular traffic information and COVID-19 safety tips. ′

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