You really can’t beat the irony. New York’s Port Authority wants to let Geico put giant billboards up at it’s George Washington Bridge toll booths touting “safety” according to a New York Times story late last week (sub req.)
Why irony? Because the billboards will intentionally distract drivers as they approach the tolls. That is, after all, the basic idea a billboard — a distraction from driving to read the sign. This will be done in a spot with lots of stop-and-go traffic and lane-changing. According to the article, the signs:
will include the posting of a huge billboard on top of the toll plaza in Fort Lee, N.J., that says “Geico Drive Safely.” Drivers will also see Geico signs with the company’s mascot, a gecko, on the tollbooths and electronic signs on the approach roads.
Busy toll plazas are undoubtedly one of the more accident-prone pieces of roadway. I bet the toll workers and policemen that need to constantly walk that area are thrilled to have more distractions for the drivers.
Geico will pay $3.2M for two years for the ads. So I guess money trumps safety for the insurance company and the Port Authority that operates the bridge. The more things change in this world, the more they stay the same.
[Addendum: One day after this blog entry, the Port Authority cancelled the agreement, though the New York Times article said nothing about safety issues.)