Glaring Distractions-A A +A
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
INFORMATON is very important but isn’t too much information bad? Every day we are bombarded by information most often unwanted information. All of us receive text messages from strangers offering loans, condo units for sale, insurance and even worse scams on supposedly lottery or raffle draws. These come even in the wee hours of the morning. I hope the NTC can investigate these.
I suppose advertisements are welcome if we want and need them but it really becomes a nuisance or even a dangerous distraction when these are placed in wrong places.
I remember an outdoor advertising billboard along Quimpo Boulevard which posted a very large ad of a young lady in her underwear. Sure, the underwear was of good quality and of good color combination but having a young lady wear these and in full view of the riding and driving public was just too distracting. Many of my driver friends talked about staring at the advertisement while driving and nearly colliding on the vehicle in front of him. I think several consumer and women’s rights groups complained about the billboard and it was taken down after a week or so.
My friends, the lesson here is to keep your eyes on the road and not on pretty distractions but I think another issue is, are we going to allow advertisements and billboards to intentionally distract drivers and their passengers?
Used to be, large billboards would hire the best painters to present their attractive products. Then came the tarpaulins with the large format printers, these now could print photos into giant sizes to as high as five stories. To maximize ad space, several technologies were also utilized -- some employed a multi sided frame which turns and may give three to four ads in the same billboard space.
These days we have entered the high tech world by experiencing the LED (light emitting diodes) billboards all over the city. Some would say that we are now a modern city because of such high tech advertising but are we really using it wisely?
Looking at the national laws governing the display of billboard advertising along roads, the general rule is that no structures or advertisements that are found to be distracting to drivers are allowed to be set up along the roads. Are not LED billboards distracting and sometimes blinding?
A glaring example (forgive the pun) is the SM Lanang LED billboard which is very, very distracting and blinding dangerous. I know this first hand because I was blinded by its lights that I nearly bumped a pedestrian crossing the road. How bright are these LEDs? Ask any airplane passenger and s/he can tell you that we can almost read the ads up in the air as we circle the city at night. The present national building code is so outdated that it doesn’t even have anything that deals with electronic and LED billboards. Perhaps that is why Metro Manila and other key cities are now being bombarded by these distracting billboards.
The basic non-LED billboard will post very large words and pictures that allow the driver to absorb the message it wants to convey in just about a second or two but the LED billboard is just like a TV that provides different messages every three or five seconds and it attracts its viewers with bright lights and colors. Drivers will now have the tendency to glue their eyes on the LED billboards to watch the steady stream of ads rather than stick their eyes on the road. We all know that watching a TV while driving is downright distracting so why are we allowing TV-like signages to be installed along the road? So who is at fault? The driver who was distracted or the LED billboards that seek to purposely distract drivers and passengers alike?
While, I know that LED billboards is needed to market products and services but these should be put into their proper places.
The best placed LED billboards in Davao City are the ones placed by the local TV network station in front of the City Hall plus the one fronting the Department of Health Office near the Davao Medical Center. These LED billboards are placed parallel the roads and highway so not to distract the drivers but are seen only by the passengers and the commuting pubic. Such consideration for road safety must be recognized.
I hope that the city council can come up with a legislative action to properly locate these billboards so not to increase the number of accidents in the city. Perhaps, Davao City can once again lead the cities of the Philippines by passing legislation to regulate these LED billboards.
All LED billboards must be placed parallel (not perpendicular) to the roads fronting it and at a certain height (depending on the size -- the larger that higher it must be from the ground) so that the light beams do not blind drivers. The lumens (brightness) of these should also be regulated especially at night. We ban vehicles from using of fog lamps within the city limits so why are we not banning these LED billboards when they are much brighter than fog lamps. Perhaps the only LEDs that may be allowed are those are solely used for public information but let us not allow a 5 second public infomercial followed by five minutes of commercial ads as a way to skirt the law.
Advertising is good for the public to know more about available products and services but when these information infringe into the public realm like streets by distracting and becoming nuisance to pedestrians, commuters and drivers alike then these must be highly regulated for road safety.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on October 03, 2013.