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Negative words on billboards could cause crashes

University of Alberta researcher looked at distracted driving

A University of Alberta researcher wants to put the brakes on billboards with negative words.

Michelle Chan says her recently published study shows negative words on roadside ads lead to more distracted driving.

The PhD student put fellow students into a driving simulator and tested their skills behind the wheel as negative, positive and neutral words appeared in the background.

She found negative words, such as cancer, war and abuse, caused most of the test subjects to slow down and veer outside their lane.

She says positive words caused people to speed up, but their driving was still safer.

Chan says she hopes Canada adopts rules cracking down on the content of billboards, similar to laws Australia.

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