In Kansas City, and throughout the country, distracted drivers increase the likelihood of car crash for themselves and others.
Cell phone usage has garnered considerable attention as one cause of distracted driving. Missouri lawmakers have even considered making texting while driving illegal. This intense focus on the hazards of cell phones, however, can lead some to overlook other similarly dangerous sources of distracted driving.
In particular, roadside advertising can pose a grave threat to drivers.
Recently, researchers have made strides at quantifying the risk of roadside advertising.
One study shows that a two-second distraction of any kind, advertising or otherwise, more than doubles a driver’s likelihood of crash or near crash.
Troublingly, the advent of digital advertising seems to have worsened the epidemic of distracted driving. A study at Virginia Tech indicates that drivers passing electronic billboards are two times more likely than drivers passing traditional billboards, or no billboards at all, to take their eyes of the road for two seconds or longer.
The Virginia Tech study was conducted in daylight. The impact of electronic billboards on distracted driving during darker hours has not yet been studied, although it would stand to reason that such billboards would be even more distracting at night.
Like electronic billboards, sign spinners may act as a source of distracted driving. To date, no study on the impact of sign spinners, also known as human directional, has been conducted. Nonetheless, it seems unlikely that sign spinners would decrease the likelihood of distracted driving. Often costumed, human directionals stand on busy roadsides with the intent of averting passing drivers’ attention from the road to some nearby business. Tragically, one Florida sign spinner was recently struck and killed by a distracted driver.
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