Almost anyone who has driven on a major highway in the US has seen some version of a digital billboard in use. In the Garden State, digital signs and billboards have become commonplace, giving information on everything from traffic conditions to Silver Alerts. These signs often display several screens of flashing information. I’ve often wondered if they contribute to motor vehicle crashes due to the fact that drivers must often divert their attention from the road in order to read them. Well, a recent study conducted by researchers at the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute and published in the journal of Traffic Injury Prevention concludes that such signs attract and hold the gazes of drivers for significantly longer than a threshold that prior studies had already shown to be dangerous. The current study found that drivers looked at digital billboards for much longer than they looked at other signs on the same stretch of road. The study found that digital signs often took a driver’s eyes off of the roadway for more than two seconds.
Think this is not a threat to traffic safety? A study conducted in 2006 by Virginia Tech for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showed that anything that takes a driver’s eyes off of the road for more than two seconds greatly increases the risk of a crash. The same study also concluded that nearly 80% of all crashes involved driver inattention just prior (within three (3) seconds) of the crash. The researchers concluded that digital billboards “have the potential to keep up the driver’s curiosity over an extended period of time.” The Swedish researchers noted that the findings are not all that surprising because the signs are brighter and visible from greater distances, and they display a constantly-changing series of advertisements. After the study’s release, the Swedish government ordered the removal of all digital billboards. In the US, the use of digital signs and billboards on roadways continues to grow.
When driving, always be safe and obey all rules of the road. Do not let yourself be distracted by anything. Otherwise, you could cause a car accident.
Have you been injured as a result of a driver who caused a car accident because he or she was looking at a road sign or who was distracted by a digital billboard? Call me to discuss your situation. Any call to me or consultation is free of charge.