Local News

Roadway signs vague for Amber Alerts

Posted May 19, 2008 7:23 p.m. EDT

— The state Department of Transportation has changed how it disseminates Amber Alerts on its 200 overhead road signs throughout the state.

The change came eight months ago following concerns of safety and focus groups that showed drivers do not retain enough of the detailed information displayed on the signs.

That meant motorists slowing down to read the detailed messages, creating a safety hazard.

"We understand we're here to disseminate the information, but it is at the costs of the safety of our motorists," said Jo Ann Oerter with the DOT.

Under the change, the signs display a simple message, such as "Amber Alert," with the number 511 for motorists to call for more information.

That way, the message is accurate and consistent for motorists, Oerter said.

The DOT said the 511 center typically receives nearly 2,000 calls on a Sunday. After an Amber Alert was issued Sunday for Siraj Munir "Roji" Davenport, the center received nearly 13,000.

The North Carolina Center for Missing Persons says depending on the situation, it would prefer more detailed information posted. Not everyone will call the number for more information, and that could potentially be fatal for the subject of the Amber Alert.