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Distracted Drivers: Is the Confederate Flag Distracting?

Recently, the Confederate Flag has received some backlash because of the South Carolina massacre of 9 black churchgoers in the beginning of the summer. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (R) banned the flag to be flown at the capitol grounds after signing a bill into law. The flag has been flown at the capitol grounds since 2000, when it was removed from atop of the statehouse. To many the flag is a symbol of racism and slavery carried out by the Confederate troops in the 1861-1865 U.S. Civil War. However, there are also many who proudly hail it as an emblem of Southern heritage.

People who support the flag believe that racism is a fact of heart, not something that can be solved by taking down a flag. The world’s largest Confederate flag is flown across i75 and i4 here in Tampa Bay in Hillsborough County. Tampa’s mayor Bob Buckhorn stated that, “the fact that is still flying over i4 is not a celebration of the history of the South but a painful reminder of man’s inhumanity to follow men. It does not reflect the amazing diversity of Tampa or the emergence of this state as a beacon of tolerance.” Ever since its controversial conception in 2008, locals have either been supporting it or asking for its removal because of how heavy the traffic is in the current location of the flag.

So Why is it Still Up?

The local chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans made sure they received the required county permits as well as making sure the flag pole did not violate any zoning laws. Although its members do not condone the killings in South Carolina, they claim that the flag did not cause the killings themselves but rather the mentally-ill man did. Furthermore, at the flags base, there are plaques honoring black, white, Hispanic, Jewish and Native American Confederate Soldiers who died in battle. The members of the group that are made up of people from different races participate in the Hillsborough County Diversity Advisory Council’s Multicultural fairs every year representing the Southern Americans. With racial tensions building from incidents with cops, the marches of racially charged groups and the flag itself, it can be concluded that such a controversial image distracts drivers.

Studies that Show Distraction

A study by Swedish researchers published in the journal of Traffic Injury Prevention concluded that giant billboards attract and hold the gaze of drivers for longer than a threshold that previous studies have shown to be dangerous. Subsequently, anything that takes a driver’s eyes off the road for more than 2 seconds really increases the risk of a crash. Nearly 80% of all crashes involved drivers being distracted prior to just 3 seconds before the crash.

Another study founded by the researchers at the University of Alberta asked 30 adults to hop into a driving stimulator and react to different types of billboards. These billboards featured both positive and negative words like “joy” or “stress” as well as target words such as “cat” or “lion”. These target words were to be addressed by pressing a button in the stimulator to indicate that the participant saw the word. The results showed that when billboards featured negative words, drivers tended to slow down and veer from their lanes as well as become slower to spot the target words. This indicates that negative language has an emotional affect your attention and decision making skills. Negative language is more emotionally charged than positive language, therefore absorbing more of your focus. This can be translated over to negative images as well.

And what is a negative image you might ask- the confederate flag. Regardless of the historical background encouraged by southern heritage, the fact of the matter is that the majority of people driving on the road will find it distracting when driving because of its size and emotionally charged presence. It’s largely negative image can cause drivers to get into accidents because of its looming nature. It’s unfortunate to know that I know exactly where I am based on the enormity of that flag and the fact that I even know this information shows that it has even distracted me.

Whether we’re talking about distracted billboards or large Confederate flags, distracted driving will lead to an accident. Have you been injured in an auto accident due to the negligence of another? Has a loved one suffered physical, mental, monetary, or emotional losses due to the lack of care displayed by another party? Whatever your situation is, you may be eligible for compensation. Don’t settle for what the greedy insurance companies are telling you. Speak with an experienced personal injury attorney from Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA today at (727) 451-6900.

Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765
(727) 451-6900