California Wants Ads on Highway Alert Signs

California may be the first state to display advertisements on the highway alert signs, a move that might generate money but may also prove to be a threat to the drivers' safety, USA Today wrote in an article published today. First of all, installing ads on billboards, which are exclusively used for traffic alerts and warnings, would bring millions of dollars to the California Department of Transportation which, in its turn, could build new roads or upgrade the existing ones.

However, such a move could prove to be extremely dangerous, especially if drivers' attention is held by an advertisement, Ken Kobetsky, chief engineer of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, told USA Today. Moreover, some people may simply ignore the billboards, thinking that they only show advertisements, Kobetsky added. "It's a cash cow. But are you concerned about earning money, or are you concerned about saving lives?" he explained.

Kevin Fry of Scenic America, a preservation group, told the aforementioned source that a deal between California's Department of Transportation and companies interested in highway ads is extremely risky especially for drivers who may disregard traffic alerts. "Ads would undermine 50 years of federal highway policy. The sign will be perceived as just another billboard,” Fry stated.

The proposal of displaying advertisements on highway traffic signs is still a concept, officials said, because the Department of Transportation is still looking for a way to show the ads without distracting the drivers. However, agency director Will Kempton already issued a plan to insert adverts on highway signs, USA Today wrote.

“Kempton envisions Caltrans hiring an agency to replace most of the state's 657 alert signs, which display messages on light-bulb boards. Ad agencies would sell ads and give the state a cut. Caltrans would regulate ads and post alerts when needed, Kempton said.”
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About the author: Bogdan Popa
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Bogdan keeps an eye on how technology is taking over the car world. His long-term goals are buying an 18-wheeler because he needs more space for his kid’s toys, and convincing Google and Apple that Android Auto and CarPlay deserve at least as much attention as their phones.
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