This week marks the National Day of Remembrance for Road Crash Victims.
Every single day Canadians of all ages die on our roads. Surprisingly, the leading cause of fatal collisions is not speed nor alcohol. The #1 cause of death on our streets is driver distraction.
That’s why governments, health agencies and community groups are trying desperately to reduce driver distraction. Yet stunningly, Metrolinx remains the only government agency that is actively trying to increase driver distraction on our provincial highways.
Their proposal to install eight massive digital commercial LED billboards on major highways, is nothing less than a sickening attempt to monetise driver distraction. Advertising companies are desperately seeking new audiences for their outdoor billboards and Metrolinx is delivering them an audience: Highway drivers – who are supposed to be looking at the road.
This is outrageous. That’s why the Toronto Paramedics Association and the Ontario Paramedics Association have both written letters to the Minister of Transportation asking him to veto the Metrolinx plan.
The fact that this proposal achieved approval from Toronto City Council, is an indication of how dangerously powerful corporate lobbyists have become. The city’s Sign Variance Committee rejected the Metrolinx plan as did Toronto’s professional City Staff . Regardless, City Councillors (all of whom had been heavily lobbied by the billboard industry, on behalf of Metrolinx) approved all eight signs – ignoring the advice of their own staff and advisory body.
It’s time for Metrolinx to back down from this disturbing project. Our highways are already dangerous enough, without outdoor advertising companies trying to distract our eyes towards their flashing billboards.
Public spaces are for people to use and enjoy. Drivers aren’t a “target market”. They are citizens. And they are mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters. Metrolinx’s job is to protect our families. Not to put us at risk, for some quick cash.