Digital billboards called dangerous to drivers

Written by Jon Schmitz on .


The anti-billboard group Scenic America is touting a new study that concludes that digital billboards are a potentially dangerous distraction to drivers.

A new study published in the journal Traffic Injury Prevention concludes that digital billboards attract and hold the gazes of drivers for far longer than a threshold that previous studies have shown to be dangerous.

The study, conducted by researchers at the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute and funded by the Swedish Transport Administration, found that drivers looked at digital billboards significantly longer than they did at other signs on the same stretch of road, with the digital signs often taking a driver’s eyes off the road for more than two seconds.

A well-regarded 2006 study by Virginia Tech for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that anything that takes a driver’s eyes off the road for more than two seconds greatly increases the risk of a crash. The study also found that nearly 80 percent of all crashes involved driver inattention just prior to (within 3 seconds) of the crash.

“This study validates what is common sense when it comes to digital billboards,” said Mary Tracy, president of Scenic America. “Bright, constantly-changing signs on the side of the road are meant to attract and keep the attention of drivers, and this study confirms that is exactly what they do.”

Here's a 2009 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story on other research that reached a similar conclusion. 

Road work updates

Squirrel Hill Tunnel construction has resumed after a holiday break. Expect inbound single-lane closures overnight starting at 9 p.m. and outbound single-lane closures starting at 11 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. Work concludes by 5 a.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

Traffic signal improvements on Banksville Road will cause short-term restrictions inbound from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and outbound from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Removal and replacement of overhead signs and lighting on ramps near the Fort Duquesne Bridge will occur starting at 10 p.m. Monday through Wednesday. On Monday, the ramp from the Fort Pitt Bridge to Fort Duquesne Boulevard will be closed. Traffic will be detoured using Liberty Avenue to Stanwix Street to Fort Duquesne Boulevard. On Tuesday, the ramp from the Fort Duquesne Bridge to Fort Duquesne Boulevard will be closed. Traffic will be detoured using the 10th Street Bypass off-ramp making a right onto 10th Street, right onto Penn Avenue, right onto Ninth Street back to Fort Duquesne Boulevard. On Wednesday, the ramp from the 10th Street Bypass to the Fort Duquesne Bridge will be closed. Traffic will take Fort Duquesne Boulevard to Stanwix Street to Fort Pitt Boulevard, using the on-ramp to the northbound Fort Duquesne Bridge. Work concludes by 5 a.m. daily.

Reminder: tolls increase 10 percent for cash customers and 2 percent for E-ZPass users on the Pennsylvania Turnpike system at 12:01 a.m. Sunday. This includes turnpike-operated roads like the Mon-Fayette Expressway, Toll 66 and the Beaver Valley Expressway. Tolls will go up for the first time on the Findlay Connector, aka Turnpike 576, from the current 50 cents to 75 cents for cash payers and 63 cents for E-ZPass customers.

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