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Letter: Don’t stuff digital billboards down our throats — or in our eyes

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Billboards are stacked along the 600 South offramp from I-15 in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, March 13, 2018.

Here’s what the barons of billboards (oped March 25) seem to forget: People hate billboards. Boards are stone-age vestiges of cave writing. They are antiquated. They are intrusive. They offend. They are unsafe. They block views of our scenery. They are ugly. They are nuisances. They are, with so many better forms of advertising available, unnecessary.

And yet the billboard industry now wants to light them up, make them even more visible, more intrusive, more distracting to drivers, more compelling. They already crow that billboards cannot be ignored by passers-by; now they want to demand diverted attention from the road to their signs by blasting digitized, brilliantly colored images directly at drivers, changing every 8 seconds. When those gigantic rectangular spotlights change from brilliant red to canary yellow to royal blue to blinding white to emerald green and back again and again, that is flashing. That is motion. It is impossible not to look, and having looked, not to read what they are pitching, all at 75 or more miles an hour. Safe? No. More profitable? You bet.

Utahns know that we simply have too many billboards cluttering up our landscape. Why make an already awful problem worse? Allowing them by state law to overrule the vast majority of us who no longer want our local landscapes fouled by these things to make them even worse by digitizing them is obscene, and underneath it all, the companies know it and they just don’t care.

In a perfect world, the Legislature would give the billboard barons maybe 20 years to find other ways to sell ads, or to find places to put billboards other than in Utah, and take ours all down. That may be too much to hope for any time soon, but we can dream, can’t we? Meantime, don’t stuff digital billboards down our throats, or in our eyes.

Frank Cumberland, Salt Lake City

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