Blogs by Gregory K Sams
Road safety – there's an elephant in the roundabout.
11/5/2009 2:14:38 AM
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The same people banning mobile phone use while driving sell space to roadside advertisers whose object is to distract our attention.
With the prevalence of the mobile phone there must be few drivers on the roads today without one. I frequently see drivers who’ve taken their mind off the road while the phone is pressed to their head, so am not surprised that use of hand held mobiles on the roads has become a punishable offence. People have even been busted for eating an apple or a candy bar at the wheel, though in such cases the officer must believe the activity is contributing to unsafe driving behaviour.
But are they missing something terribly obvious – something for which no before-and-after statistics are available? I am referring, of course, to roadside advertising! The billboards lining busy stretches of road and roundabout have one purpose only – to distract us from our driving. If they succeed then we take our eyes and our minds off the road, which surely must be detrimental to our safe driving. Companies certainly pay large sums of money to get their messages through to us by this means, with many of the roadside sites being owned by local government.
Of course, roadside advertising has been around for over a century, originating in an age when far fewer vehicles were on the roads, perhaps requiring less exacting attention from drivers. When I was a child, the main objection to billboards was their ugly defacing of the landscape. Nobody appears to have been keeping statistics of the effect upon accident rates at a roundabout or busy stretch of road before and after distracting billboards have been erected.
If we are to be banned from the distractions of our mobile phones whilst behind the wheel, then it is madness that the same people doing the banning are renting roadside space to companies whose sole aim is to create another distraction for the driver.
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