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UK Government Outdoor Advertising

Government health ads more dangerous to drivers than posters of scantily clad women


By Jennifer Faull, Deputy Editor

February 16, 2013 | 1 min read

According to a study from the University of Alberta in Canada, drivers are more likely to be distracted by government health billboards which feature negative words such as “cancer” and “death” than those which feature semi-nude women.

Motorists were put through computer game-style simulators which aimed to test their reactions to different adverts.

It found that ads with negative words, such as those on “quite smoking” posters, were highly distracting, often causing drivers to swerve and drift off the road.

Conversely, posters with positive messages, with words such as “love” and “happiness” and often featuring pictures of attractive women, put drivers in a better mood, helping them to react more quickly.

Michelle Chan, a PhD psychology student at the University of Alberta in Canada, who led the study, said: “There are some really graphic anti-smoking billboards around. They tend to capture more attention, so drivers tend to look at them longer and pay less attention to the driving task.”

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