Meet the team behind the viral Ludacris VDOT sign

Posted at 9:13 AM, Jun 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-29 09:13:03-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- A Virginia Department of Transportation electronic message boardwas seen around the world with the help of actor and rapper Chris “Ludacris” Bridges.

The Grammy-winning rapper, actor and entrepreneur took to Instagram on Saturday to post a photo of a sign reading "DRIVING FAST AND FURIOUS? THAT'S LUDACRIS."

Ludacris posted that he could not believe the sign was real and asked, "should this **** be on every highway?"

"Virginia I love you back!" he wrote.

VDOT officials replied on Twitter, "We ❤️ you, too!"

Over 13 million people follow Ludacris on Instagram.

“That is a tremendous spread of our message that we could never have done,” said VDOT Chief Deputy Commissioner Rob Cary.

Virginia leads the nation in clever and "punny" messages broadcast on the electronic boards over interstates and primary roads.

“We had a message about, ‘Don’t camp in the left lane, camp in Virginia’s state parks,’” Cary laughed.

RELATED: VDOT shares favorite highway signs

VDOT officials said the "Fast and Furious" message ran across the Commonwealth through Sunday, June 27. They ensure the messages are not up for extended periods of time and are not displayed frequently to drive home their safety message.

A team of communications staff, traffic engineers, operations staff and management discuss, review and select the messages that are displayed. They write short, concise messages that are easy to understand and quick for the driver to read.

“I’m a little bit of a nerd so I think my favorite ones would be where we reference Marvel movies and Star Wars,” explained VDOT Transportation Operations Center Specialist Dan Taylor in a Youtube video uploaded last year.

VDOT also works with researchers at Virginia Tech to analyze brainwaves to determine which messages drivers respond to the most.

“We absolutely do what we do base on scientific research and trying to connect with drivers in various age groups and change their behaviors,” Cary stated.

VDOT targets their warnings to those who need to read them the most after 847 fatalities were reported in 2020. That is 20 more traffic-related deaths reported than in 2019.

RELATED:Ludacris floored by VDOT's 'Fast and Furious' signs: 'Can't believe this is real'

“It will directly go to that younger group, the 20–40-year-old, who is the largest group we are seeing in those speed-related crashes,” Cary explained. “Two-thirds of those fatal crashes are male, and one-third are female.”

All this attention is proof that the message boards work, Cary said.

“If we can influence behavior by putting that message out there to somebody to say, ‘speeding is Ludacris, slow down,” he stated. “Take it easy. You’re not going to save that much time by speeding, and you’ll get there alive.”

“F9: The Fast Saga," which premiered in theaters Friday, raked in $30 million on its opening day and the latest chapter in the Universal Pictures blockbuster saga is projected to earn $70 million over three days, according to reports.

Deadline called the premiere"the best opening day and weekend we’ve seen during the pandemic."