Dangerous driving distractions

Written by Muleskinner Staff

Story by Ellen Becker (Managing Editor)
In today’s society, advertising is everywhere. It’s on television, radio and online.
I can’t even watch a video clip on YouTube without having to view an ad first. Once, I had to sit through a 30-second commercial to watch a 60-second video.
Recently, I was driving along highway 13 in Warrensburg when I saw two people standing on either side of the road.
One man was holding a sign near Little Caesar’s Pizza that advertised a $5 pizza. The man on the other side of the road held a sign advertising a buffet at Monetti’s Italian Ristorante. Both men were smiling and waving as people drove by.
I was so distracted reading the signs that I didn’t notice that the line of traffic had stopped. I had to slam on my breaks to avoid hitting the car in front of me.
I realize that I should have been paying attention to where I was going. I also realize that the two men were just doing their jobs. But on the other hand, those kinds of distractions can be quite hazardous.
Is the competition for advertising really so important that businesses have to resort to waving and twirling big signs in our faces?
I’m pretty sure the bright neon signs hanging on the buildings are advertising enough.
Sign spinning has become pretty popular. Some businesses even hire street dancers to stand near high-traffic areas and twirl signs promoting special discounts and other ads.
Liberty Tax in Warrensburg often has an employee dressed as the Statue of Liberty hopping around and waving at passersby.

Many businesses now have employees dress up in costumes and hold advertisements while waving to drivers. (Photo courtesy of Google Images)

Again, it’s very distracting to drivers, not to mention how hard it is to read the signs when they’re being tossed in the air and spun around.
As a communication student and someone who works in the news business, I completely understand the concept of grabbing the attention of our target audiences. The Muleskinner itself is produced through ads sales.
I simply think placing a sign in the ground would be just as beneficial and much less distracting than human billboards.
According to nbcsandiego.com, a city ordinance was passed in San Diego in 2010 that made “mobile billboards,” which are defined as vehicles whose primary purpose is to advertise a business, including sign spinners, illegal.
The reason for the ban was to “avoid visual clutter, distractions for motorists and degradation to the aesthetics of the community.”
Many other cities in California have similar bans, and mobile billboards are also illegal in Maine. In Denver, sign -twirlers can’t stand in public streets or on public medians.
Texting and driving is considered extremely dangerous, and it’s not legal to have a TV screen in the front seat of your car.
Yet if someone wants to dance around and distract you with a colorful sign, that’s just fine.
Human billboards have been around since the early 19th century, but no matter how much businesses they may bring in, it’s not worth threatening the safety of drivers.