Saturday, May 31, 2008

Teen driving

Oregon instituted restrictions on teen drivers in 2000 as a move toward graduated licensing. The new law was somewhat confusing to teens and their parents. As a small component of a massive public information campaign, these posters were produced to illustrate the different requirements and restrictions.

The cartoons made the information easier to understand and remember, and softened what could have been perceived as a harsh message. The posters were distributed to schools and DMV offices statewide, and were available as a download from the DMV Web site.

The campaign was a great success. We had outstanding media coverage and won a Spotlight Award from the Portland Metro Chapter of PRSA. Most importantly, the restrictions helped in reducing the number of injuries and fatalities to teen drivers in the state.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Good intentions

I have to admit, I originally thought of making it the Highway to Hell, but that wasn't very family friendly, and...well...I just never got around to it...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

A modest proposal

Of course we couldn't finish Transportation Safety Awareness Month without one more look at congestion. Of all the cartoons I published in the Fast Lane, this one generated the least feedback of any that I can recall. I think perhaps some of the engineers had considered the same idea.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Thrill zone!

After the excavation, utility work, setup work and pouring the concrete, it really is kind of boring when the concrete is in place. It just sits there while it cures.

Here's another Gee Whiz piece of trivia: Concrete and cement are NOT the same thing. One engineer explained it thusly: "Cement is to concrete as flour is to bread."

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Enter to learn

Before we started work on University Avenue, we had a preconstruction meeting in which we addressed the topic of language. We issued a reminder to workers that they needed to watch their language because they'd be working in the middle of downtown Provo with shoppers and kids and spectators.

I actually don't recall hearing any complaints about the workers cussing or swearing. They probably saved it until after hours. There may have been a few choice words aimed at the workers, but that's another story...

Monday, May 26, 2008

Monday sketchbook: Memorial Day

Call me weird, but Memorial Day is one of my favorite holidays. It has nothing to do with the start of summer or the first big outing of the year. Memorial Day to me is about Malachi's words concerning Elijah: "And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers."

When I was a kid, each Memorial Day we'd gather the lilacs, the snowballs, the iris and whatever roses might be in bloom and make a bunch of Mason jar bouquets to take down to Spanish Fork City Cemetery. We placed the flowers, then Dad walked me around and told me the stories of all his uncles, aunts, cousins and other ancestors who were at rest there. Invariably, we'd run into some distant cousins who would tell me how I'd grown. Later we'd head up to Provo where Grandma Geneva had a nice picnic dinner for us, and I'd go mess around with my cousins.

Nowadays, I'm far away from Spanish Fork. Uncle Paul does a great job of marking the graves, but I miss those days -- especially the part where Dad told me the stories...may he rest in peace.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

To Ninevah and beyond!

Since most of the cartoons this month have been transportation-related, I was trying to think of one that would be good for Sunday as well. Then it hit me...Jonah! His story is all about transportation! This is another of the prophet series that also includes Moses (see April 8).

Totally unrelated story
One of the boys in our Primary class was having trouble finding a scripture we were supposed to be looking up, so I went over to help him.

"These aren't my scriptures," he explained. "These are my dad's."

"Oh?" I replied. "Then what is your dad doing?"

"I think he went home to watch the Yankees."

You gotta love Primary!

Saturday, May 24, 2008


Tiguana's taxi rides again! So as you travel this Memorial Day weekend, watch out for goods being shipped by rail. And remember to be safe in work zones, too...after all, May is still Transportation Safety Awareness Month.

  • ODOT PSA Featuring the voice talents of Ben, Gary and Shelley. (MP3)

Friday, May 23, 2008


This might be a little on the strange side, but I still like it. In the second panel, I borrowed a trick from The Beatles in Shirley's mantra -- backtracking.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


As seems to be consistent with these highway cartoons, the numbers have changed but the issues remain. As was widely reported last August, for example, the number of deficient bridges is way up.

Here's a little side note about this one: the songs on the radio may seem to date the strip, but they were chosen to enhance the message.

Second side note: at the time I drew this, 96.1 was a top 40 station on the Wasatch Front; when I moved to Oregon, 96.1 was an oldies station in the Willamette Valley. The tunes stayed true to the cartoon even though I moved.

Third side note: as an odd coincidence, it's lyricist Bernie Taupin's birthday, so it's interesting that "Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road" would show up today. Who knew?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Maybe it's a tourist trap?

It's another one of those sign things that I mentioned a couple of days ago. But it does leave a few unanswered questions. How does a little planet like Earth rate six exits? Why would they want to exit at Earth? What services are available? Gas/food/lodging?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I mean precisely what I say

Non-engineers really liked this cartoon; the engineers were a little divided in their opinions. They either thought the cartoon was mocking them, or they agreed with it. Yes, said the engineers, some of the language they use might not be classified as conversational...but it is precise.

When I applied to work at ODOT, I used the fact that I could translate engineer-speak into English as a selling point. I think it was that and the fact that I already had my own orange shirt that sealed the deal.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Monday sketchbook: keep moooving

There are a lot of strange things you can come up with when you play around with road signs. I like this idea, because if you've ever hung out with cows, this is pretty much what they do all day.

A couple of summers ago we cow-sat for my in-laws while they were out of town. The cows always ran away from me when I went up to the field to fill the water trough and bring up hay, but if I ever went outside without bringing them hay, they'd bellow and whine interminably. Cow Nirvana is to process hay from one end to the other.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Special guest artist: Calvin Grondahl

From time to time, The New Era only bought the cartoon idea and farmed it out to have someone else do the artwork. This is one that was done by Calvin Grondahl, who at the time had Deseret News as part of his byline. He since moved on to bigger and better things at the Standard Examiner in Ogden.

While it was a little disappointing (and less financially rewarding) to have the idea drawn up by another artist, it was interesting to see how they ran with the idea. For example, I like how Grondahl gave Noah a telescope and christened the ark "Ark."

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The listkeeper

A lot of girls I knew at BYU kept various lists of boyfriends, things that included majors/job potential, cars, missionary service, Eagle Scout, etc. I thought the whole thing was kind of strange, so this was my take on the concept. Yes, I know that guys keep lists too...but that's another story for another time.

Friday, May 16, 2008


This was supposed to contain a little wink and nudge in-joke, but the subtlety wasn't quite so subtle.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

AASHTO, the sequel

We're a lot closer to having smart cars. Not so much on the smarter drivers.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

More transportation issues

My former boss, Hannah, was hired by AASHTO (the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials) where she was asked to do some marketing around future transportation needs. She, in turn, asked me to do a series of cartoons to illustrate some of their key talking points.

Although the material may not be hilarious, It’s interesting that although some of the numbers are a little outdated, we still have many of the same concerns more than a decade later.

The series was published in AASHTO Quarterly.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Poor Shirley

I like this one, although it took some people a little while to figure out.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Monday sketchbook: freeway hunting

When I was a kid, my dad had this maroon Galaxie 500. I thought it was the way coolest car ever. I’m sure even today you could find one if you hid in the right clear zone and had a good decoy with a mating call. I’m sure of it!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mothers' Day

These are from a series I was asked to do illustrating different types of mothers. There is the hyper-, ultra- or uber-mom...
...the Darth Mom...
...and the Missing Mom.

The point of the article was that in reality, mothers in general can't be pigeonholed. To paraphrase Shakespeare, each mom in her time plays many parts.

You may notice that there's no picture of a perfect mom. The definition of "perfect" changes not only from family to family, but often even hour by hour.

I am lucky enough to have a wonderful mother and a wonderful wife. Heck, I even have a cool mother-in-law! How many guys can say that?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Cell phones, part II

This was one design that didn’t make the cut, but it was fun to do anyway. I kind of like the metaphor comparing driving with jousting, and just how silly it would be for a knight to be gabbing on a cell phone in the middle of a joust.

Download poster (PDF)

Friday, May 9, 2008

Go, Speed Racer!

A new law went into effect this year to restrict drivers under 18 years old from using cell phones (or PDAs or whatever) while driving — except in an emergency. We used posters as part of the media mix in announcing the new law.

This is one of the posters that we selected to announce the teen driver cell phone ban (I have to give credit to Sam for the manga concept). I like it because it’s way different than most of the information posters at DMV, so it really stands out. When we test marketed this one, we got really good feedback. And with the Speed Racer movie coming out this weekend, it seems appropriate.

Just a note on one of the subtleties of this one: the cascading text in the bottom portion spells out the message in leet (or 1337 to believers).

Download poster (PDF)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


Just a few thoughts on this particular cartoon:
  • Flaggers have one of the most thankless jobs on the planet. They have to put up with loads of grief from folks they're trying to protect. It's gotta be frustrating.
  • Every time I look at this cartoon, I think there should be a better caption, but I can never come up with anything.
  • The writing on the side of the spaceship is based on the Hangul alphabet. Sort of.
  • The car in the background is my old Honda Prelude. Sort of.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Pavement marking

A lot of the cartoons I did for the Utah Department of Transportation's newsletter had sort of a Far Side-ish quality about them. This one generated a couple of complaints about the inhumane treatment of the snakes...but how else were they supposed to mark the traffic lanes before the invention of paint?

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Close encounters

Out in one of the remote stretches of highway in southern Utah we had a problem with tortoises trying to cross the highway versus huge tractor-trailers hauling along at 55 mph. The tortoises usually wound up big time on the losing end of that one. Someone had the idea of installing tortoise crossing signs and stationing people to carry the poor little critters across the highway before they became roadkill. That got me thinking what else may be crossing some of those wide open spaces in southern Utah that serve as a top-secret thoroughfare connecting Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado and Nevada’s Area 51.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Friday, May 2, 2008


True story.

The crews paved the first section of University University Avenue in the afternoon, and later that night, some guy who blew .08 had driven his car past the barriers and 20 feet into the wet concrete. They had to dig out the car and the concrete and repave that entire section. Proving once again the truth of the adage, "don't drink and drive."

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The lovely month of May

Hello, and welcome to Transportation Safety Awareness Month! It’s a month where we try to get the word out that you do need to be careful in work zones.

One fact that’s kind of surprising is that most of the people who are injured in work zone crashes aren’t the highway workers — it’s the people in the cars, usually as a result of speeding or not paying attention.

Here’s another fun item for the Gee-Whiz File: Oregon has been testing horizontal reflective stripes that go on the concrete barriers to give drivers another visual clue on lane changes in work zones. The strips are what they call a Linear Delineating System, or LDS panels for short. As my MoCoWo (Mormon co-worker) pointed out: the LDS will show the way to go through the darkness. Hmm.