Some vandals apparently thought shocking drivers along Interstate 15 near Bonanza Road would help get their message across. In fact, it worked like a charm. With the rising sun drivers began calling 911 to report the ads. It wasn’t the content of the vandalized ad, or the message (aimed at Wall Street bankers), it was the mannequin which went along with the message, dangling in a noose from the billboard that made them react so quickly.
The graphic display along the interstate was one of at least two unauthorized signs spotted Wednesday morning in the Las Vegas area. Another found on Highland Avenue and Desert Inn Road was white with black lettering that read, “Hope You’re Happy Wall St.,” and a similar mannequin hanging off the edge.
Las Vegas police immediately contacted the companies which owned the billboards (three separate billboards) and were told the billboards must have been vandalized overnight. The police set about cutting down the dummy while the billboards went to work removing the messages.
For drivers every distraction is an accident waiting to happen. It only takes a moment for a driver to look away from the road ahead for an accident to happen, especially on a busy interstate. Advertising has long been held by highway traffic safety experts as a possible distraction for drivers. There has been much debate about the wisdom of allowing roadways advertisements which are designed specifically to attract the attention of drivers. Do we really want drivers reading a billboard as they drive along at 65 or 70 miles per hour?
About 50 years ago drivers were often greeted with a myriad of signs designed to get them to read along. The “Burma Shave” company is perhaps the most well-remembered of these types of advertisements. They used multiple signs, each with one small part of their message, spread at nominal distances along the side of the roads. These signs were not only effective advertising, they were also responsible for more than their fair share of roadway crashes, prompting safety groups to petition for their removal.
Driving distractions abound. We don’t need to create more of them in order to get a message across.