Christopher Barrios is missing from Brunswick Georgia. The location he is believed to have been abducted from is only a half mile from heavily traveled I-95. There are those who would argue an AMBER Alert sign in the vicinity could safe his life. There are others who would argue it could cost others theirs.
At the same time the Georgia Department of Transportation is adding signs and reflective striping to seven ramps after a deadly bus crash that killed seven, others are possibly adding more distractions in the interest of child safety. Outdoor Advertising Association of America is busy lobbying for cities and states to allow them to install digital billboards partly justified as a means to distribute Amber Alerts.
Digital billboards display static messages that resemble standard painted/printed billboards when viewed.
Digital billboards do not feature animation, flashing lights, scrolling, or full-motion video.
These standards are reflected in the OAAA Code of Industry Practices to ensure that commercial and noncommercial messages disseminated on standard-size digital billboards will be static messages and the content shall not include animated, flashing, scrolling, intermittent or full-motion video elements.
View this Clear Channel video where their spokesperson describes it as,”… In your face advertisements you can’t turn off…”
Digital billboards aren’t inexpensive costing roughly $500,000 each but outdoor advertising sales are second only to Internet ad sales.
“The safety of children is everybody’s business and the abduction of a child is every parent’s worse nightmare,” House Speaker James Amann, D-Milford, said in announcing the agreement at the Legislative Office Building. “Having billboards … not only makes sound policy but absolutely perfect sense.”
Not everyone is singing their praises. In a March 2007 USA Today article, Atlanta and other cities are studying if they are a distraction to drivers. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration last April showed that distractions in which a driver spent more than two seconds looking elsewhere than the road contributed to 22% of overall accidents. Go to the NHTSA and click on the related links. Each state displays more information for traffic accidents then any site provides for missing children.
A slice of Times Square off Peachtree Street, the sign, which can be seen half a mile away, uses hockey players to hawk airline tickets, with images rotating every eight seconds. It’s one of more than 500 digital billboards hovering over US highways.
The problem is that it didn’t just catch the eye of drivers. As billboard companies scurried to erect more around the city, the Atlanta City Council in January enacted a temporary ban on the signs. It’s one in a string of communities from Concord, N.H., to Eden Prairie, Minn., that has raised questions about the safety of TVs in the sky.