Groggy motorists on Interstate 277 might have thought they were seeing things early Monday, when some electronic signs flashed lewd, even X-rated messages, but it was oh-so-real.
The signs were apparently hacked, though a statement sent out Monday by the North Carolina Department of Transportation stopped short of using that term.
“Someone illegally changed three of Sugar Creek Construction’s digital message signs with inappropriate messages,” said the statement.
“As soon as we were notified, we advised the contractor to deactivate the signs. We also instructed the contractor to identify what happened and put preventative measures in place.”
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Charlotte TV station WSOC was the first to report seeing the digital signs displaying vulgar messages. The signs involved are typically used to warn drivers of lane closures, traffic delays and construction dates.
WSOC said the impacted signs were on the Brookshire Freeway, inbound from Interstate 85, and on Interstate-277 outbound, before the Interstate 77 ramp.
It’s not the first time this has happened in the state.
In 2014, multiple electronic overhead signs across the state were hacked, some of them with the message: “Hacked by Sun Hacker.” Signs in other states were also hacked around the same time, leading to an FBI investigation, state officials said at the time.