By Claire Watson
The state government is still deciding the fate of 10 giant electronic billboards destined for Perth’s freeway overpasses.
The government’s plan to use the billboards to raise advertising revenue came to a sudden halt when a public backlash forced the switching off of the first big screen at Bull Creek last week.
Minister for Transport Dean Nalder has released a statement calling for Main Roads WA to conduct a review into the safety of the location of the billboard, currently located on the Leach Highway overpass of the Kwinana Freeway, after being slammed as a driver distraction.
Should the billboards go ahead as planned, they will raise nearly 20 million dollars, which will be channelled into managing traffic congestion and public transport initiatives.
Dean Roberts from Main Roads WA could not provide an update to The Bounce on the future of the billboards, saying no new information would be disclosed prior to the publication of the official safety review.
Liz Carey from the RAC says this form of electronic advertising is explicitly designed to divert a driver’s attention from the road.
‘The billboards play three advertisements every minute which you can see from a distance of seven hundred and fifty metres.’
Ms Carey also pointed out the contradiction from the Road Safety Minister, who had announced tougher penalties for distracted drivers just days before the billboard campaign began.
She says while the incentive of the revenue to be put into easing Perth’s Freeway congestion is justified, it would not be enough to ease public concern.
‘This message is unlikely to resonate with the community as many are aware that 75 million dollars still remains uncommitted and unspent in the Road Trauma Trust account.’
A second billboard was intended for a Great Eastern Highway overpass in Burswood next month, but with a pending safety review, this could now be in doubt.