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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Should councils be encouraging us to take our eye off the road?

Should councils be encouraging us to take our eye of the road? I ask the question as it becomes obvious that we now have a troubling addition to our street furniture. I refer to the commercial adverts which now festoon many of our roundabouts. And usually those in the centre of town where traffic flows are at their greatest.

The roundabout has now been sponsored by such and such company. Placards are posted at regular intervals around the circuit. Of course a logo and suitable strapline add to our delights. “ Glasses from 20/20 vision to help your driving” would suit.

Roundabouts were invented to smooth traffic flow, but with increasing traffic densities they have achieved the reverse. They acquired an extra helper - traffic lights. These junctions are places with the potential for real grief. Indeed a location where the heartbeat may rise and wits have to be honed.

This is a place for due care and attention. There are enough traffic signs to absorb as you negotiate white tramlines disappearing under your bonnet.

So how come our councils have been able to square the circle over road safety and the need to nudge motorists into behaving properly? Well they haven’t and it is lolly that tops the list. Sponsoring a roundabout brings in the coins and helps subsidise the traffic department’s budgets. In an age of contingency, risk aversion and health and safety, it is amazing that this advertising genre has even been contemplated.

We can ask what other locations can be found for our cash-strapped councils? Will our public toilets, public seating and litter bins be finding sponsors next? More importantly, who might the sponsors be? Whoever they are, the exercise won't be compromising our safety.

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