WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — A new study being presented in Washington D.C. and published in the journal “Traffic Injury Prevention” says digital billboards are unsafe and distracting to drivers, but a Piedmont outdoor advertising company says it has proof saying otherwise.
Scenic America, a non-profit group concerned with improving America’s landscape and limiting outdoor advertising, says a study performed by the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute found drivers look at digital billboards longer than they do other types of signs.
The study goes on to site a 2006 study for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration which says anything taking a driver’s eyes off the road for more than 2 seconds increases the risk of a crash.
Scenic America President Mary Tracy says, “they are selling their signs by the amount of eyeballs that go by and we have enough problems out there with crashes and the loss of life and loss of property. It’s time to take step back to look at what are the real safety implications and not just listen to billboard industry.”
But Fairway Outdoor Advertising Piedmont General Manager Dan O’Shea says, “we rely on studies done by Virginia Tech and F.H.A. which both have found they are not dangerous and they were done here in U.S. and not in Sweden.”
O’Shea says the digital billboards here are much more regulated than those in Sweden. The signs can’t be in the right of way, can’t change but once every 8 seconds, and they can not be animated.
O’Shea goes on to say, “we’ve had digital billboards here in the U.S. for over 10 years and to date not a single accident has been reported that has involved an outdoor advertising structure, not one.”
Scenic America will present the Swedish study and arguments for stricter digital sign regulation across the country to the Transportation Research Board in Washington D.C. on January 16th.