ROADS/BRIDGES: New silver alerts coming to Washington electronic signs

Aug. 21, 2015

Washington state electronic highway signs will display a new silver alert in the case of endangered missing people 60 years or older. 

Starting Aug. 27, motorists may see a new alert message on Washington’s electronic highway signs.

The new Silver Alert messages will be for endangered missing people who are 60 years or older. Previously, those messages were handled as Endangered Missing Person alerts, which are for anyone who could be in danger due to age, health or mental or physical disability. The Endangered Missing Person alerts will continue for people younger than 60.

Once verified by the Washington State Patrol, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) will display Silver Alerts on electronic variable message signs on highways and may also include the information on highway advisory radio messages and the 511 system. WSDOT will only display the messages when there is vehicle information included. The intent of highway messages is to alert motorists to be on the lookout for the vehicle during their journey.

The alerts vary depending on sign size but will generally include:

  • SILVER ALERT/ Call 911 If Seen (the top line will alternate);
  • Vehicle make, model and color; and
  • License plate number and state.

The Silver Alerts join the AMBER Alerts (for abducted children) and Blue Alerts (for suspects in attacks on law enforcement officers). Silver Alerts will not result in cell phone alarms. The new alert was created by the Legislature during the past session to aid in the search for missing senior citizens, including those with dementia.

Silver Alert messages will initially be displayed regionally but can be expanded statewide depending on the individual situation.