Distracting those injured by the distracted

April 9, 2019

Wendy Parker

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Louisiana Senate Bill 211 and House Concurrent Resolution 4 aim to take the distraction of billboards out of the crash-equation.

“Was your pet weasel run over by a distracted driver? Call the law firm of Rancid and Socket – we care about weasels, because we ARE weasels! Write this number down while you’re passing by at 68 miles-per-hour, so you can sue the pants off anything that has a pulse – and just in case you didn’t take your eyes off the road long enough when you saw the word ‘weasel,’ we’re going to throw in a giant 3-D representation of a weasel-loving weasel in a bad suit!”

Well that makes sense.

“Ethel, hand me a pad and pen and let me swerve all over the road whilst I’m taking down this information. Better yet, I’ll just snap a picture of it with muh cello-phone for future reference. Stop screaming, Ethel, I’m perfectly fine to drive and read and take pictures at the same time, it ain’t the same as being distracted, woman. Only pre-verts and mindless fool truck drivers gets distracted.”

You’d think so if you believed the billboard ads in Louisiana. To be fair, these billboards have become a staple in every state – I’m just picking on Louisiana today. At least they’re trying to clean it up.

More on the billboard industry later.

I know I’m not alone in marveling at the diabolical nature of highway lawyer billboards that advertise vengeance for distracted driving crashes. These ambulance chasers are literally creating their own victims by being as distracting as possible. Not only is it infuriating to see some egghead lawyer in a suit made by Baby Gap wearing white boxing gloves to match his shiny court-shoes, it’s demeaning to the truck drivers this fruitcake demonizes.

But, alas, this is a country in which we are able to push the envelope far enough to get paper cuts on our eyeballs.

According to the website Fitssmallbusiness.com, traditional billboard costs range from an average $250 per month in rural areas to $1,500 to $4,000 in small to midsize cities, and $14,000 or more in larger markets.

In turn, production for an advertisement on vinyl for a 14-foot by 48-foot bulletin billboard requires almost 700 square feet of material. The cost breaks down to roughly 50 cents per square foot, or $300 to $500 dollars.

Digital billboards can cost advertisers $10,000 a month or more, depending on the location. They’re a whole different animal when it comes to initial production costs, but after installation is paid for, it’s much easier to create new ads at little to no cost.

That in turn is a big business. The Out of Home Advertising Association of America – yep they have a trade group – estimates that by 2021 the industry will rake in up to $33 billion. Billion with a capital B. Now that includes bus wraps and the like too, but you can bet that billboards make up a lot of that.

Suffice it to say that with 348,000 “more traditional” displays throughout the U.S. and Canada (aka: billboards with smarmy lawyers plastered all over them and other various other forms of marketing) and 3,200 digital displays (aka: beams of light that shoot your eyes out from the side of the road when it’s dark and you’re already having trouble focusing because of the damn X-ray vision high-intensity discharge headlights on every new car and truck made), the outdoor advertising players have plenty of cheddar to throw around if they want to battle laws limiting billboards.

Hence the reason something very simple, like limiting the number of boards per square mile, or infringing on anyone’s feel-goods about their freedom of speech is even further complicated with money – and a lot of it.

This will be a fun one to hide and watch. Of course, for litigation sake and all, I’ll only be watching when I’m sitting in stand-still traffic underneath some “Golly-gee ain’t them truckers a bunch of turds?” billboard, waiting for a mangled wreck to be cleaned off the road.

Wendy Parker

Wendy Parker has covered the trucking industry since 2012 after she says she “lost my mind and decided to climb inside my husband’s big truck to travel with him as an over-the road, long-haul trucker.” Her unique writing style that ranges from biting satire to investigative journalism coupled with her unbridled passion for fighting round out a wildly talented stable of writers.

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