Billboards Not Pleasant, but Affective 1. In terms of “any billboard” – not just digital billboards

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Billboards Not Pleasant, but Affective

1. In terms of “any billboard” – not just digital billboards – are they “sky trash” as Scenic America suggests, or do they provide a value to consumers and advertisers as the Outdoor Advertising Association of America asserts? As someone who is already agitated by the constant influx of advertisements in everyday life, I have to agree with Scenic America that they clutter the landscape and natural beauty of the American countryside. While I do not enjoy them, this is not to say that they are not affective. I think that billboards may have had more value in previous decades (especially after they were standardized in the early 1900s.) Even now, however, they are useful in highlighting local amenities and small businesses that may otherwise go unnoticed to highway motorists. I would also like to discuss my distaste for billboards in terms of who they benefit. I agree with Scenic America's assertion that billboards make a few people a lot of money (even though many of their other claims are questionably bias.) Many billboards are monopolized by large corporations that do little to benefit the communities in which they advertise.

2. Should private property owners be allowed to contract with outdoor advertising companies for the placement of billboards on private property without government interference? Or, should the government regulate the number, placement, and size of billboards irrespective of the rights of property owners? This is a difficult argument to navigate, seeing as many people that live in the areas that would accommodate billboards often (but not always) strongly dislike or are hesitant about any government interference. I am certainly not a fan of billboards that display obscene or hurtful messages (like some radical Christian groups are privy to advertise), but I cannot imagine it would be easy to regulate variables like the number, placement and size of billboards on private property. Molly Webb of Curbed Philadelphia states in her article that of the 183 billboards along I-95 in Philadelphia, about half of them violate basic zoning regulations. I think that the first thing to do would be to regulate the number of billboards allowed on one privately-owned property.

3. Have you ever been distracted by a digital billboard? Based on all of your research, do digital billboards pose a safety risk or not? Be sure to defend your answer. Upon my own reflection, I believed that I spent just a bit more time paying attention to digital billboards than static ones (perhaps waiting to see what the digital boards change to.) This hypothesis was confirmed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which found that eyes glanced at digital billboards for an average of .379 seconds, rather than the .335 seconds spent glancing at static billboards. However, both statistics fall far below the two-second benchmark constituting a hazard. For this reason, I do not believe that digital billboards pose a safety risk, especially when compared to distracted driving caused by cellphone use or alcohol.

To reply/comment in the Discussion Forum: Do you agree or disagree with the member on one or more points of discussion? Why or why not?   

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