Roadside billboards either fail to catch your attention – in which case they’re bad at being advertising, since you need to notice for their message to worm into your mind – or they do catch your attention, in which case they make you more likely to crash.

Maybe a billboard commandeers only a small fraction of your attention, but that’s enough to make roadways worse. Amid heavy traffic in cities, it takes only tiny disturbances – a moment of inattention before tapping the breaks – to seed a traffic jam, because a cascading set of reactions follow.


In addition to the billboards for personal injury attorneys, roadside attractions, fast food, lite beer and such, the Midwest has many signs instructing drivers to find religion. “HELL IS REAL” in stark white caps on a black background. “Ready or not, Jesus is coming.” A person’s hands in chains alongside the words, “Shackled by desire? Jesus can help.”

Until recently, I hadn’t realized how expensive these messages might be. A truck driver working to promote Christian beliefs in Wisconsin spent about $250,000 per year to rent signage space on about two dozen billboards.


As much as I dislike advertising, I still love the aesthetics of urban decay – skeletal husks of shuttered retail outlets, graffiti, & the peeling remnants of un-rented billboards. I passed this sign often while driving to visit my mother, up until the space was rented to a winery.

Roadside billboard showing the message "PRAY: Time is of the essence" falling off the advertising platform.


The bird might laugh at your calamity; might mock when your fear cometh.

Did you choose the fear of The Raptor?