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Now the NYT wants to ban billboards too [distracted driving]

2008-11-16 Electronic billboard at Rome-Hilliard Rd. & I-70 on the far west side of Columbus, OhioNot content merely to fear monger about the immanent national threat posed by motorists who chat on their cell phone, the New York Times has decided to take on a new bogyman: electronic billboards.

From the New York Times:

Safety advocates who worry about the dangers of distracted driving have a new concern beyond cellphones and gadget-laden dashboards: digital roadside billboards.

These high-tech billboards marry the glow of Times Square with the immediacy of the Internet. Images change every six to eight seconds, so advertisers can flash timely messages — like the latest headlines, coffee deals at dawn, a cheeseburger at lunchtime or even the song playing on a radio station at that moment.

The billboard industry asserts there is no research indicating they cause crashes, and notes that the signs do not use video or animation.

But to critics, these ever-changing, bright billboards are “television on a stick” and give drivers, many of them already calling and texting, yet another reason to take their eyes off the road.

Abby Dart, executive director of Scenic Michigan, a nonprofit group trying to block construction of new digital billboards in the state, calls the signs “weapons of mass distraction” and says they can be more dangerous than phones.

As someone who has spent entirely too much time driving across Ohio, I can tell you that at least in the nations farm belt, large, electronic billboards are not so much as a distraction as a safety feature. After all, what else is there to keep you from falling asleep after 100 miles of cornfields?

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  1. […] even wrote sensationalist stories about the need to ban billboards and EMS and Fire Truck communication equipment on the basis that they might be […]

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