Friday, 4 January 2013

Road Safety v Revenue

There are reports today that too many road signs lead to more accidents and we could save money by reducing the number of unnecessary signs. It stands to reason that added distractions will not help concentration so all that we need to know is which signs are important and which are a distraction. It is fairly easy to decide when two signs tell us the same thing. It is less obvious in other cases but advertising should be easy to place in the distraction category.

One of my favourite signs from a few years ago was one that asked me to drive carefully and told me the name of the town that I was entering. It had been hit by a vehicle. More recently I saw adverts on a roundabout, and anything new is a distraction. I managed to read one of the signs which told me that I could advertise on those signs and all I had to do was contact the county council. This must mean that road safety is important, but not as important as revenue.

It used to be illegal to advertise on the side of a motorway but mobile signs get round the law. I would not be surprised if we get video advertising on the side of the road in the near future. We criticise drivers who use the phone or do anything that distracts from their driving. On the other hand if we can make money out of it...

Change the world

Later that day I drove from Morecambe to Knutsford and back on the M6 and there were plenty of signs advertising all kinds of things. This was nothing compared to yesterday, the 5th when I drove to Cardiff. Near Birmingham there are illuminated large screen adverts that go into great detail about their products. Then there is a spectacular transition to a different advert.

I am sure that I only looked for as long as it was safe to look. I think this is the defence of people who are prosecuted for watching DVDs on their laptops whilst driving. If you had seen these adverts you may think they have a case.

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