Roadside digital mural will lead to accidents

Roadside digital mural will lead to accidents

That image is the new headquarters of WGBH, the public broadcasting powerhouse that originates in Boston. The building sits next to the Massachusetts Turnpike in Brighton, and in fact, juts out over the highway. Over the past few months they’ve been doing some work on the side of the building and just this week switched on a giant “digital mural,” which the rest of us would call a TV billboard. To be sure, this isn’t broadcasting TV shows, but it is showing moving images.

Does anyone else think this is a bad idea? I drive this route every day and yesterday was the first day it was switched on. There’s a straight stretch of highway headed eastbound just before it, about a half mile long. That thing is jumping and moving and is distraction from the road. How long before the first accidents caused by driver distraction? Didn’t anyone think about this?

I’m also worried about the trend. How long before regular billboards are replaced by jumping and moving video images designed to distract even more? Do-gooders are trying to ban cell-phone use while driving. Is that more distracting than a video billboard?

Whatever the intent, this is just more visual pollution and a road hazard.

P.S. Last week, while they were testing it, the mural was displaying a gigantic yards tall and wide Microsoft Windows error message. I wish I’d photographed it. I can’t wait for the first blue screen of death.

Photo by Jeff Goldberg/Boston Herald

  • I would concur.  It is a bit mesmerizing when you see one of these.  We have a new one that loves the color orange.  It is rather shocking to be driving along and a huge orange glare suddenly lights up.

  • I lived up in Lowell for 4 years.  I would think it would be very obvious to every driver in New England that the LAST thing Boston needs is some sort of distraction on the road! 

    The people in Boston already drive faster than most NASCAR drivers. There are only a few laws that drivers there obey regularly: “There is no speed limit”; “The side of the road is also a passing lane”; and “Stop signs are for Losers”

  • That is a horrible idea. There are enough accidents on the Pike as it is. The last thing we need is one more reason for people to take their eyes off the road.

  • Several of these billboards were installed throughout the Twin Cities Metro area earlier this year.  The local city councils quickly enacted legislation limiting the size and placement of these billboards.  The size and placement of this particular billboard appears to be the issue here.  Otherwise I say embrace the technology and the creativity of the people designing them.

  • We’ve had those LED billboards in Michigan for a while, but I believe there’s some laws in place preventing them from being animated.  They flip through their signs like a slide show, and a few companies have taken advantage of the digital nature (radio stations displaying the title of the song they’re currently playing, for example), but that’s it.  No more distracting than the mechanically rotating billboards already around.

  • I completely agree.  I saw it yesterday for the first time, and was thrown off.  Not only is it a huge moving picture, but there was some illusion going on too where it was broken up by the facade of the building. 

    Add “traffic hazard” to “modern architectural abomination.”

  • There was a dynamic billboard a few months ago on the north side of the Garden, which created a nasty visual distraction from (1) the big curve on the Leverett Connector, and (2) the entrance into the O’Neill Tunnel, where traffic merges. Really bad idea.

    Can’t wait for the casino ads. If we think the Lottery ads are bad, just wait for those.

  • The technology is smart, but they should only use it to change out the billboards every day, or twice a day or something…not constant commercial-like motion…