An artist in California is calling attention to bad driving habits in a big way, posting pictures of real motorists engaging in distracted driving on billboards all over San Francisco.
Since February, Brian Singer has posted 23 pictures to his blog Texting While In Traffic (TWIT) of distracted drivers with their eyes off the road. Most are guilty of phone fondling, but a recent photo on the site shows a woman curling her eyebrows while behind the wheel.
Singer started the blog when he when he noticed many of his fellow commuters texting while driving on busy San Francisco roadways from the passenger seat in a carpool. At first, he posted the images to his website and Facebook page a few times a week. Now, he has paid for eleven billboards featuring the photos along his commute in the Bay Area. Even though the photos feature the drivers' faces, Singer says the blog and billboards aren't about shaming drivers.
"It's not about shaming, because we're all guilty of distracted driving, whether a phone call or eating a cheeseburger while driving. I'm trying to draw awareness to drivers actions" Singer said. "I can't imagine dialing a phone number from a touch screen while driving down a highway. It scares the daylights out of me. My hope is that people will see these billboards and become more aware of their actions while driving."
The pictures are either taken by himself or fans of his website from the passenger seat on freeways. The billboards will line the 101 Highway in and around the city until late April, which is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Singer has yet to hear any feedback from the drivers featured on the site, but he has heard from those affected by distracted driving.
"Everyone has a story. I get messages from all over the country about people who were injured by distracted drivers" Singer said.
Hopefully the stunt will work. Distracted driving continues to be a major problem on the nation's roadways despite public outreach, PSAs and laws. A recent survey from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found 69 percent of drivers had used a cell phone while behind the wheel and 24 percent said they texted while driving in the past 30 days. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that during daylight hours an average of 660,000 drivers are using a cell phone while driving in the U.S.
Though bans on texting while driving are in place in 39 states, they're difficult to enforce. A USA Today survey showed the bans resulted in few tickets. In some states less than one per day was being issued. California issues thousands of distracted driving tickets each year, but fines for violating the laws can be as low as $20 for a first offense.