On June 26, the Cabinet of Ministers supported the changes to the law on outdoor advertising on highways and streets. According to the government portal, the bill was developed by the Interior Ministry of Ukraine following the program for economic reforms for 2010-2014 "Prosperous society, competitive economy, effective state," as well as to bring Ukraine closer to the European Union standards.

In particular, the documents stipulates to ban installing outdoor advertising on sidewalks, bicycle lanes, avenues; within easement area of roads; over roadways; on safety zones, on top face and pillars of road signs, street lights, artificial structures; in zones of traffic intersection, bridges, crossovers; in places of frequent road traffic accidents. Moreover, out of the bounds of settlements, billboards must be installed minimum 10 meters far from the road (now - 5 meters).

According to the plan, the implementation of provisions of this law will allow, first of all, improving road safety by reducing the influence of extraneous information on drivers. In addition, these changes are aimed at adapting the Ukrainian legislation to the EU standards.

ForUm has asked experts on whether such limitations for outdoor advertising can improve traffic safety:

Artem Bidenko, head of the Association of outdoor advertising of Ukraine:

- The government proposes not to remove billboards, but to move them 10 meters far from the road. They believe bill boards will still attract attention, but will not cause accidents. You know that in Russia and the EU experts have undertaken a study and come to the conclusion that outdoor advertising does not distract drivers. In Russia they installed special cameras on drivers' eyes and these cameras recorded and separated 20 distracting factors. Outdoor advertising holds 14th position, while traffic police vehicle - the 4th. Even traffic police officers admit that outdoor advertising has nothing to do with road accidents.  

If the draft bill is adopted, a part of outdoor advertising will go in shadow. City budgets will not get money, entrepreneurs will bribe police and prosecutor's office, but billboards will remain, as it is hug investments. To reduce accident incident rate we need proper road markings and lights. 

Vasyl Zaychenko, lawyer, former head of the Traffic safety center of the State Traffic Police Department of Ukraine:

- In western European countries it is not accepted to install bright and blinking outdoor advertising near and over the roads. They understand that such advertising irritates drivers and distracts their attention from the road. Thus, limiting billboard installation is a good thing.

However, we will never know how effective such step may be, as nobody ever investigates into reasons why a driver lost control of his car - because of blinding or not.

Denis Bohush, vice president of Ukrainian PR-League, official representative of IPRA in Ukraine, president of PR agency Bohush Communications:

- The ban applies not to all billboards, but only to those on the roads, which is good. We are living in the century of total advertising, when ad writers try to invent something more and more catching to attract people's attention. However, driver's attention is better be focused on the road, not ads. in my opinion, the less billboards on city roads the better.

Volodymyr Oliynyk, MP of Ukraine (Party of Regions), deputy head of the parliamentary committee on legislative provision of law enforcement activities:

- Similar draft bill, developed by me and MP Malysh, has already been registered in the parliament. We have worked jointly with officers of the road control service. The document provides for similar limitations, and we also paid special attention to railroad crossing zone. We even have cases when outdoor advertising reducers visibility. It must be fixed. Ukraine does need European standards.

Mykhailo Fryziuk, psychologist, psychotherapist:

- From the psychological point of view, studies prove that certain distracting events on the road make drivers even more focused and concentrated. However, such outdoor advertising should not be too bright and its content should not distract or scare.

Olena Kondratiuk, MP (Motherland party), head of the parliamentary subcommittee on advertising:

- Rules of advertising positioning must be improved indeed, as current norms are not observed or even violated. The draft bill provides for installation of advertising constructions along roads 50-75 meters apart, which will reduce the range of outdoor advertising in cities by 40-50%. The draft bill of the committee provides for civilized norms of ads market regulation. It take into account interests and recommendations of both operators and state agencies, preoccupied by the situation on the roads.

Advertising does distract, let alone its pushiness, which distorts consumers' preferences. However, as for Cabinet's project, I don't think it has a point considering we already have similar draft bill.
Oleksandr Serhiyenko, expert, director of the City Institute:

- To speak about effectiveness of the initiative on limitations of outdoor advertising we should first  analyze the statistics of road accidents. The fact is that the number of accidents caused by outdoor advertising is minimal, I would say even none. As a driver I can tell you that I don't remember paying attention to any billboards on the road. Thus, i don't think these limitations will somehow improve the traffic safety.

Road safety means a range of absolutely different measures, like reformation of traffic police, increase of fines for violation of traffic rules, etc.


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