Skip to content

LETTER: More distractions the last thing needed on Hwy. 400

'This, if nothing else, demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of what comprises a safety zone,' letter writes says of digital billboard proposal
Highway 400 looking north toward Essa Road from the Harvie-Big Bay Point bridge in south-end Barrie. The Barrie ONroute is shown in the far side of the highway in his file photo.

OrilliaMatters welcomes letters to the editor at [email protected] or via the website. Please include your full name, daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following letter is in response to a story titled 'Big concern? Hwy. 400 ONroute billboard a 'great big ... spam board,' published April 20.

How is it possible, or even conceivable, that a giant sign on a 400-series highway is being considered for a permit exception by the MTO?

A sign – and to paraphrase Coun. Amy Courser (and thank you councillor) – is quite rightly referring to it as a giant "spam board" on property that, according to the article in OrilliaMatters, is owned by the MTO. Especially since the city is unable – at least as far as this reader is aware – to have the flashing traffic lights in school safety zones turned on at the same time as a traffic camera...?

This, if nothing else, demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of what comprises a safety zone. A giant advertising board that will take drivers' attention away from the road … a road that they’ve just come off of and suffering velocitization.  

Velocitization is a term used to describe a phenomenon that occurs when drivers become accustomed to driving at high speeds for an extended period of time. Velocitization is particularly dangerous because it can lead to a false sense of security. It makes it particularly difficult for drivers to reduce their speed to a safe speed, because their senses are telling them they’re going too slow.

If the MTO is unable to grant Barrie an exemption to turn on the flashing traffic lights in a safety zone, then they have no right to grant an exemption for a giant, lighted spam board on a road where thousands of vehicles pass, each hour, regardless of how far off the highway they’re going to claim it is. Aside from the fact that it doesn’t really portray Barrie in any kind of positive light. Advertising rarely does.

The fact that ONroute CEO Melanie Teed-Murch considers these boards as "nothing new" has absolutely nothing to do with this issue. It’s simply her opinion.

I find these monstrosities to be a huge distraction. They’re almost as bad as blinding me while trying to see the traffic and the fact that they’re programmed to cycle ads at least once before the car passes, causing a giant flicker, something that experienced drivers are taught to pay attention, even out of the corner of their eyes, you know, could be an emergency vehicle. Except, no. It’s just more advertising. So now we’re desensitizing drivers to emergency lighting.

Thank you, Mayor Alex Nuttall, for putting the brakes on this insanity.

Do we really need more advertising? Do we really need to blind drivers? Do we really need to take drivers' eyes off the road? In all cases, the answer should be a resounding no.

If ONroute wants to inundate drivers with yet more commercials, put them on the gas pumps. Put them in the toilets. Put them on a sign while customers are standing in line. Have people parade up and down the queue giving out pamphlets. 

We do not need more, bigger, brighter or higher advertising. We need eyes on the road! 

And yes, we need the flashing light back on in safety zones.

Seaghan Hancocks