Hacked Tulsa Traffic Sign No Laughing Matter For ODOT

Friday, October 7th 2011, 9:49 pm
By: News On 6

Ashli Sims, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- Oklahoma State transportation officials called a road-side practical joke a public safety hazard Friday.

Someone hacked into one of ODOT's smart signs on I-44 in Tulsa Wednesday night, alerting drivers of "zombies ahead."

Some folks may find it funny, but ODOT isn't laughing and crews say they're taking action to keep it from happening again.

While many drivers might think of the bumper to bumper traffic on Tulsa's I-44 as a nightmare, they probably weren't expecting their early morning commutes to turn into night of the living dead.

Early Wednesday our cameras captured the smart signs near Lewis flashing a warning about zombies, instead of road closures.

10/06/2011 Related Story: Tulsa Traffic Sign Warns Drivers About Zombies 

"For several hours unfortunately drivers were not aware of upcoming road conditions, instead they were looking at something that someone thought was a joke," said Kenna Mitchell of ODOT.

Most folks on NewsOn6.com found the trick to be a treat, but Mitchell says this is no laughing matter.

"In this case it was a board trying to get some critical information for drivers, because without knowing there were some ramps closed ahead they would have gone a long way around to loop back round to get to their destination," she said.

And it's not just an inconvenience; it could also be a serious safety hazard. Pranksters have hijacked highway signs in other cities before, but Mitchell says she's not aware of it happening here in Tulsa. And she believes the sign switch maybe an inside job.

"The contractor has taken some extra steps to try to prevent this. But again this is someone who had some working knowledge of the equipment and system. Steps have been taken to keep that person from coming back to the scene again," she said.

ODOT officials ask that you call *55, if you see anything wrong with the message boards.