Signs of the times

By David Thomson on Sat, 3 Mar 2018

Billboards that have the potential to distract motorists and other road users have been a topic of debate in the main pages of the Otago Daily Times over the past few weeks.

The relatively recent installation of a digital billboard on the Anderson's Bay railway overbridge was the action that seems to have prompted the debate and it has occupied a handy number of column inches for my colleague Paul Gorman in his What's With That? column on the inside front page of the paper.

I've probably missed an instalment or two along the way, but the saga thus far saw concerns raised by John Fridd (another ODT colleague) at the end of January, with those concerns largely supported by Automobile Association Otago district council chairman Alan Race. Most recently _ on Monday of this week _ Brett Harris, of the Traffic Design Group, has offered some reassurance via What's With That? around road safety and digital billboards.

I won't plunder Paul's story in respect of Dunedin's billboards any further for Drivesouth, but all this mention of billboards and road safety has reminded me of a billboard double beyond the city limits that has always struck me as a bit dodgy.

You'll find it on SH87 between Outram and Lee Stream: there, either side of a blind crest that kinks appreciably to the right (coming from Outram) or to the left (coming from Lee Stream) are a pair of large billboards displaying NZTA road safety messages.

I think it's great that we post such messages. But I find it odd that our road safety authorities place such safety messages _ the latest of which encourage drivers to pay attention _ either side of a blind crest with a kink in it.

Just think about it: at the very place where we should be paying extra attention to the road, a large road safety sign can only be read by drivers who do the very thing the sign is warning against; namely, taking their eyes off the road.

There are a couple of other places on that same stretch of road where visibility is far better, and where the placement of safety billboards would, therefore, make much more sense.

On a more positive and much more immediate note, this is a weekend when Dunedin-based fans of American cars should have plenty to smile about, that because the 2018 Great USA Car Day is on at Tahuna Park today.

Organised by the Stateside Streeters, this annual event is billed as the biggest display of American-origin vehicles in the South. Pop along to Tahuna Park from mid-morning if you are keen to take a look.

David Thomson