The Maine Department of Transportation is using some holiday humor to grab the attention of drivers who may be speeding on Interstate 295 between Scarborough and West Gardiner.

The department changed the message on its variable-message signs along the 53-mile stretch, and on sections of Route 1 and other major highways, to say: “Santa sees you when you are speeding.”

Transportation department spokesman Ted Talbot said the message went up Wednesday afternoon and won’t be changed until after Christmas.

“We’re glad there is some humor in the message,” Talbot said. “It doesn’t always have to be a wave of the finger.”

Talbot said the Santa message is just one idea the department has had while it considers how it can make the heavily traveled interstate safer.

Led by chief engineer Joyce Taylor and traffic engineer Steve Landry, the department is looking at the message signs as vehicles for getting drivers’ attention. Talbot said other states have taken similar approaches as traffic volume, accidents and speeds have increased.

“These interstates were built in the ’50s,” he said, “and weren’t designed to handle this volume of traffic.”

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