A billboard warning drivers of the dangers of texting while driving caused multiple crashes since being installed over the weekend. The distracting sign displays a series of emojis followed by a lengthy explanation of what the emoji message means, followed by distracting bold type which says "WHAT COULD BE SO IMPORTANT THAT YOU HAVE TO READ IT WHILE DRIVING A CAR?
"I think the billboard is really irresponsible," said Daniel Miranda, 19, who crashed his parent's Mercedes after becoming distracted by it. "I was texting my brother when I was distracted by the billboard. I actually put down my phone down to try to make out what the sign was saying. By the time I finished reading it I had run into the car in front of me."
The car Mr. Miranda hit was being driven by 33-year-old Esmeralda Felez-Smith of Kendall. The slow-speed crash caused no injuries to Ms. Felez-Smith or her car, but she nevertheless made a whole big thing about it, including refusing to pull her car over to the service lane because it was "a crime scene" and insisting on calling the cops to come and investigate.
"This has been so inconvenient," said Ms. Felez-Smith of the fender-bender. "I was just driving in my car, texting my husband, when this kid just smashes into me out of nowhere. What is wrong with him that he thinks its okay to read a billboard while driving?"
The crash has drawn the ire of traffic safety groups who say that the increase use of anti-texting billboards presents a public safety hazard. Nadine Lopez, the President of Mothers Against Texting While Driving Billboards (MATWDB)says she plans to lobby Congress to pass laws outlawing the controversial billboard messages.