Do billboards plastered with pretty women cause road accidents?
Billboards have always been a bone of contention amongst the religious in Pakistan. They have resorted to throwing stones and other paraphernalia to register their protest at the image of pretty female models advertising various products from mobile phones to lawn prints.
On the other scale, you get celebrities proudly posting images of billboards with their face on them with hashtags on Instagram as a way of showing just how cool they really are. This week, however, a Supreme Court judge in Karachi ruled that female models on billboards are responsible for road accidents. Yes, on roads that are packed with sputtering rickshaws, a never-ending array of motorcycles, several Corollas and not to mention all those wibbly-wobbly bicycles on the side, it is billboards with female models that indeed cause road accidents.
Having driven in Pakistan before, I can assure you road accidents are not caused by aesthetically pleasing billboards but by total chaos on the roads itself. When you’re not too busy swerving from other vehicles, you have to make sure you don’t hit the beggars on the side of the street who swarm together waiting to pounce on cars that are waiting at the traffic light or from other cars that cut sharply in front of you if you happen to drive at a pace that slows them down.
Instead of punishing billboards, more should be done about the standard of safety on the road itself which is a mammoth task that no one really wants to tackle, so the scapegoat in the shape of hoardings are slaughtered instead.
Billboards are a great marketing technique for companies keen to display their wares to entice passer-by’s into buying their products. They are relatively cheap, form a good source of income for companies, and also keep the advertising companies in business.
There is a definitive logic in removing billboards in the case of strong winds, which can make them fall and kill innocent passer-bys and they should be nailed to walls instead to make them safer, as they do in England.
However, there is no logic in blaming female models who have no control over the content of their advertiser’s methods. Instead male drivers who take issue with females should show restraint and modesty by lowering their gaze and focus on the ensuing chaos they face on the streets. No one bats an eyelid when a partially-dressed male model is shown on billboards.
Aren’t they just as distracting to females?
Will road accidents be less prevalent if male and female models were censured?
In conclusion, I agree in part to the judgment of the honourable judge that hoardings when improperly erected can be extremely dangerous but hoardings are a great source of marketing for the advertisers and a good way to spruce up a concrete jungle. If one takes issue with them, they should simply focus on the colossally difficulty of driving by keeping their eyes on the road.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.