Sign of the times as digital billboards declared safe

DIGITAL billboards are no more dangerous than other forms of roadside signs.

An Australia-first study by the shows concerns the on-trend form of advertising, which uses LED screens to broadcast still electronic advertising, are misplaced.

Outdoor Media Association CEO Charmaine Moldrich said the organisation, which represents outdoor media display companies and related business, said researchers used hi-tech equipment to monitor driver reactions to digital and traditional billboards as well as on-premise business signs.

Twenty-nine road-users wore eye-tracking glasses while driving along a 14.6km stretch of Gympie Road in Brisbane that took them past all three forms of outdoor advertising.

The glasses measured how long the drivers' eyes looked at the signs as they passed by.

The car was also equipped with a tracker that measured its movement including moving side to side.

READ MORE: Expert calls for drop in suburban speed limits

"The research had to be based on an Australian real-world driving situation," Ms Moldrich said.

"We wanted to ascertain whether the third-party signs distracted people more than the all the other signage that was on the road.

"We were going to do the research on Parramatta Road in Sydney because that was one of the most cluttered environments in terms of on-premise signs.

"But we moved it to Brisbane because Queensland had more digital inventory than any other state.

The study found the drivers, on average, looked the signs for less than a second, which experts consider to be the minimum perception reaction time needed to respond to an unexpected event.

"What we were trying to test was 'Is there any particular sign type that drivers look at in a way that is unsafe during the driving task?'," Ms Moldrich said.

"What we found was that in the presence of digital, static and on-premise signs, drivers were by and large looking at the road - in fact 78-79% of the time.

"We also checked what was happening in the car, and found that drivers maintained a safe headway (they were not tailgating) in the presence of all of those signage types. This was a really positive result." 

 

 

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