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Keep campaigns and Oklahoma clean by keeping political signs out of highway rights-of-way

Thursday, November 03, 2016

November 3, 2016
PR# 16-050

Political campaigns can sometimes turn messy, but a common practice in nearly every campaign is adding litter to Oklahoma roadways and endangering drivers and volunteers. Many Oklahomans may not know it, but placing signs, including campaign advertisements, in state rights-of-way is against the law. The Oklahoma Department of Transportation is reminding candidates and volunteers of this law and asking them to help keep highway rights-of-way safe and clean. State rights-of-way are typically defined as the area of grass between fences and highways and also include medians, bridges and overpasses.

Illegally placed campaign signs jeopardize public safety by distracting drivers or blocking the view at intersections. Candidates who allow placement of these signs are also putting volunteers in harm’s way standing near busy highways or running across several lanes of traffic.

Oklahoma taxpayers foot the bill for removal of illegal signs and other litter. Each year, $5 million in state funds and an untold amount of volunteer hours are spent cleaning up litter along Oklahoma highways, which includes campaign signs. That’s in addition to what county and municipal governments spend to keep their roads clean.

“The time, money and resources used to pick up campaign signs and other litter could be put to better use fixing rough pavements or mowing,” ODOT Chief of Media and Public Relations Terri Angier said. “We appreciate the campaigns’ cooperation in keeping our highways safe and clean.”  

These signs also create hazards for maintenance workers and equipment. When crews mowing grass along highways encounter signs in the right-of-way, workers have to stop the tractor, get out and pull each sign up before continuing. Otherwise, the metal stakes holding the sign could damage the mower blades or worse, be ejected by the mower into traffic.   

Candidates should display their signs on private property with landowner permission. Campaigns should check local ordinances for questions regarding rights-of-way along city streets or county roads. However, even within city limits, these signs are prohibited on state-maintained highways, overpasses and bridges by state law.

(Editors and News Directors: The specific statute prohibiting signs and other structures on the public right of way is located at 69 O.S. § 1208 (b). For more information call the ODOT Media & Public Relations Division at 405-521-6000.)

Last Modified on Oct 23, 2020
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