Have you ever been driving down the road and been incredibly distracted by someone or something? Maybe it was your phone, maybe another driver, or was it a road side advertisement? Depending on where you’re from, one of these options may or may not apply to you. Road side advertisements here in Sweden and practically none existent. The road sides are much more pleasant to look at here and as a driver you are less likely to be distracted by one of these massive bright and colorful advertisements. They are the equivalent to click-bait article titles you see basically all around the web. It’s a quick “Hey! Look over here!”, after all, isn’t that what an advertisement is suppose to do? Grab your attention, right? While you’re driving that’s probably not a good thing to have plastered repeatedly all down the road. In fact, there have been many studies done that show road side advertisements do in fact distract drivers and consequently make driving more dangerous where advertising signs are present.
“In a Danish study from 2003, conflict studies in 4 Copenhagen urban intersections before and after installation of advertising signs were conducted. Conflict data registration was carried out using the Swedish conflict measuring method developed at the Technical University of Lund (Hydén, 1987; Almquist et al 1999). The analysis is based on a comparison of serious conflicts among road users in those traffic flows mostly exposed to distraction through advertising signs.The results from the study proved that the number of serious conflicts increased significantly during periods with advertising sign installation in urban intersections(Andersson & Lund 2003).In another Danish study from 2004, drivers’ visual behavior while passing a large advertisement located very close to a highway was examined. The advertisement in itself was an airplane which was used as advertisement and showroom by an advertising agency.Based on 40 test drives using an eye tracking system, it was recorded whether drivers were looking at the advertisement and for how long. Concurrently, speed measurements and recording of time intervals between cars on the highway were recorded.The results showed that the driver’s attention was captured by the advertisement when passing it on the highway; in most cases (80%) only quick glances of less than 1sec., however, 20% of the glances lasted more than 1 sec. and 7% lasted 1.5 sec. or more. In a few cases, glance duration at the airplane was more than 2 sec.In 25% of the test drives, the driver was glancing at the advertisement for more than 1 sec. with a time interval of less than 2 sec. to the vehicle ahead – in some cases as low as 1 sec. (Herrstedt & Lund 2004).” Written by Lene Herrstedt, Poul Greibe and Puk AnderssonTrafitec, Denmark Source: Here
Not only are these billboards unsafe and distracting, many might find them vulgar and offensive. I know personally that I have seen quite a few questionable road side advertisements that distracted me (and made me think), “wow, that probably shouldn’t be on a billboard…” I would hate to be a parent who has to explain to their child what an abortion is after passing road signs literally advertising where to get cheap abortions. Don’t forget about all the religious belief ads being pushed down your throat, or the scandalous ads for sex shops, the list goes on and on. Don’t get me wrong, it’s your life, do with it what you please, but you have to draw the line somewhere. As I have said before, it all leads back to money in America. If safety on the roads and the well being of citizens were of concern, advertisements on the road sides would be banned. Don’t you just love capitalism? Money > Everything else.