Photo by Bill Gardner / 90.5 WESA News

A national nonprofit group that promotes scenic beauty is tightening ties with its local affiliate. 

Kiley Koscinski / 90.5 WESA

Since the summer of 2017, Pittsburghers stuck in traffic at the intersection of Bigelow Boulevard and Herron Avenue could be greeted by a billboard with the same smiling face, positive message and personal phone number. Its message belonged to poet Rachel Ann Bovier. 

Pittsburgh City Photographer / University of Pittsburgh

Some people find billboards disruptive and unattractive. They cover up scenery and distract drivers. But billboards are one of the oldest forms of advertising and are still a popular way for companies to get their message across.

In 2008, billboards adjacent to a suburban highway in Israel were covered up, and accidents were analyzed compared to data from 2006 and 2007, when the billboards were visible. 

There was a significant decrease in the number of total accidents and in accidents with injuries. Damage-only accidents were not significantly affected.

Mike Dawida, executive director of Scenic Pittsburgh, has sent a letter asking Pennsylvania state legislators to make Pennsylvania highways safer by regulating billboards.