California, which has restricted cellphone use by drivers and appears poised to bar motorists from text messaging, is considering a plan that could create a new distraction: advertisements on freeway signs used for Amber Alerts and other emergencies, reports the Los Angeles Times. The money-making scheme would allow businesses to post ads on California’s 674 electronic roadside message boards. Officials believe the cash-strapped highway fund could make millions by allowing ads when the signs are not in use for emergencies. Traffic safety advocates say the potential revenue is not worth the costs of tempting drivers to take their eyes off the road.
The idea for the signs came from Clear Channel Outdoor, a billboard company that potentially stands to gain from the proposal. The firm is a major donor to state politicians. Victims’-rights advocates decried the proposal as crass. “I don’t think it’s appropriate at all,” said Marc Klaas, who heads a foundation to protect children. His 12-year-old daughter, Polly, was raped and murdered in 1993.