The sign industry isn’t usually dogged by controversy unless someone erects a particularly offensive advertisement or image on a billboard. However, there is one segment of the modern commercial sign industry that has galvanised public opinion and caused battle lines to be drawn – digital billboards.
To some they are too bright, too distracting, and an intrusive and offensive blight on the landscape. To others they are an effective, eye catching, and completely safe form of advertising. Digital billboards have become the subject of a seemingly endless string of studies and counter-studies with contradictory results over the past several years. No sooner does one study determine that digital billboards are safe and don’t distract drivers than another study comes out and says that they are a distraction that puts the public at risk.
One of the most recent studies was conducted by the US Government’s Federal Highway Administration. Eye tracking technology was used to measure how long drivers’ eyes linger on digital and static billboards. The results show that drivers are more likely to look at a digital billboard than they are to look at a conventional static billboard. However, the average length of a driver’s gaze is well within the 2 second safe limit defined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Drivers look at a conventional billboard for an average of 335 milliseconds. The average glance at a digital billboard was slightly longer at 379 milliseconds, but still well within the 2000 millisecond (two second) safe limit.
Love them or hate them, there’s no doubt that the controversy surrounding digital billboards won’t be going away anytime soon. They’ve been banned in some countries but it’s a huge market for the sign industry and a lot of people will be waiting with bated breath for the next policy shaping study to be released.
By Mario Patacic Join me on Google +