Deadly Ads: Cities Ban Digital Billboards

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Driving is about to get a lot more boring, and that’s the point. Several U.S. cities have banned or are considering a ban on digital billboards along highways.

USA Today reports that more than a dozen cities including Denver, St. Louis and Lansing, Mich., are fighting the billboards, arguing that they distract drivers. One opponent described them as “television on a stick,” because they change images so frequently (every four to 10 seconds.)

While it may seem like a smart move on the part of local legislators to make driving safer, the advertisers themselves argue the billboards are a non-existent threat.  Bryan Parker, an executive VP for Clear Channel Outdoors, told USA Today they were not a distraction and pointed to studies that showed collisions were no more frequent on highways with digital billboards.

But Max Ashburn, a spokesman for the non-profit group Scenic America, put it best. “If they weren’t distracting, they wouldn’t be doing their job,” he told USA Today. There are currently 1,800 digital billboards nationwide, which may not seem like a lot, but that number is more than double the amount in 2007.

(Check out MainStreet’s article on the Deadliest Roads in America.)

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