Friday, January 12, 2007

Are roadside electronic billboards dangerous?

Hot on the heels of the last two articles, which focused on interesting things happening in the roadside digital billboard market, comes this piece from Media Buyer Planner, suggesting that might not be such a great thing:

While there are currently only about 400 digital billboards across the country, there may be as many as 4,000 within 10 years, according to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, writes The New York Times.

Deanna Singhal, research associate at the Traffic Injury Research Foundation, a driving safety group in Ottawa, believes that not only do digital billboards keep drivers' eyes away from the road more, but that they are also more "cognitively demanding."

A study commissioned by the Federal Highway Administration has recommended more research into whether the signs present risks to drivers, and the federal government has also allotted $150,000 for a study of digital signage.

While we may not know yet whether electronic signs can affect driving performance, hopefully the federally-funded study will put the issue to rest. And unlike corporate-funded research, we can expect that the FHA report will be released to the public so that we can all benefit from it.

[UPDATE 2007-01-07]: The figure above was downgraded from 75,000 electronic billboards in the next 10 years to only 4,000, which is interesting because it contradicts a recent iSuppli survey on digital billboards. While I'm more inclined to believe the 4,000 number predicted by OAAA, it's quite odd to see such a large difference.

Tags: electronic billboards, digital billboards, out-of-home advertising

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