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

A recently published study says negative words on roadside ads lead to distracted driving.

Michelle Chan put fellow students behind the wheel of a driving simulator, showing them negative, positive and neutral words.

She found  motorists that were showed the most negative stuff like cancer, war and abuse were more likely to become distracted and veer out of their lanes.

The PhD student hopes Canada adopts rules that will crack down on the content of billboards, similar to those in Australia.

“So to try to remove some of the, for example, anti-smoking ones, the really graphic ones because they tend to capture more attention,” she says.

Chan says drivers who were shown positive words tended to focus more on driving tasks.