Digital billboards are an urban blight, and probably dangerous too

yehuda moon
© Rick Smith of Yehuda Moon

Melissa recently covered the Virginia Tech study on distracted driving, focusing on their finding that driving while "observably angry, sad, crying, or emotionally agitated" increased the crash risk by a factor of ten. She also noted that "drivers more than double their crash risk when they do things that bring their eyes away from the road – like using a handheld device, reading or writing, or using touchscreen menus on a car’s instrument panel."

The study didn't look at the distraction from digital billboards, but Rick Smith & Brian Griggs' comic strip Yehuda Moon does, with a silly ad about exercising in your car. But far more hilarious is what is happening in Los Angeles, where the police department is partnering with billboard company Clear Channel Outdoors- to put safety messages on digital billboards. According to Ad Week,

The strange twist is that L.A. has had deeply mixed views of its flashy electronic signs—which some neighborhoods have banned. Moreover, while in this case, digital billboards are promoting driver safety, critics have charged that such signs are actually part of the digital distractions to motorists. "Digital billboards," Newport Beach attorney Jim Ballidis has blogged, " … have garnered widespread criticism from safety advocates and lawyers in Orange County, Los Angeles and throughout California who claim they pose a significant distraction to drivers and, as a consequence, contribute to car accidents."

billboard LAPD© Clearchannel

It is hard to tell what's sillier, the humor of Yeduda Moon or the reality of a digital billboard telling you not to be distracted.

Digital billboards are an urban blight, and probably dangerous too
Perhaps it's time to reconsider those billboards and redesign our car interiors.

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