I attended the PZA hearing regarding the digital billboards issue. As I was listening to the board and the billboard industry speak, I realized that the billboard industry loved to create confusion around the details of how long the ads are, how long it takes to read one, how long it takes to be distracted, how long a distraction takes to lead to an accident, etc. When, in fact, all we really need to do is acknowledge them as the distraction that they are.
According to IT Strategies (A Boston-based digital printing consulting firm), in 2012, over $25 million was spent by the billboard industry collectively to lobby for the allowance of electronic billboards. If they truly are not a distraction, then why do they need so much money to convince us otherwise?
Car companies are utilizing “Heads Up Display” technology. BMW lists this benefit under their safety features and says, “One second is all it takes for you to take your eyes off the road to look down and see that you’re traveling at 60 MPH. But in that one second, you’ll also have traveled 90 feet – and a lot can happen in that distance.”
Volkswagen prides themselves on their “Heads Up Display” safety technology and states, “The driver’s eyes remain on the road, with the on-screen information appearing to be two metres in front of the vehicle. The advantage of this is that projecting alerts into the driver’s immediate field of vision…” They are using this technology to better keep the driver’s eyes on the road ahead of them, not glancing on a display to the side.
Automobile companies are putting vital information, such as MPH or even driving directions, in the line of vision of the driver. They know that even a one second glance away can cause a distraction.
No one argued over how long a text would have to be to be considered a distraction. These are just distracting tactics by the multibillion-dollar billboard industry to distract us from the fact that billboards are distracting.Lisa Johnson Cook
Ponte Vedra Beach