Digital Billboards are Safe, Study Finds

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More than seven years of auto crash data show that digital billboards are not related to traffic accidents, according to a new traffic safety analysis. The analysis was conducted by Tantala Associates, LLC, consulting engineers based in Philadelphia, on behalf of the Foundation for Outdoor Advertising Research & Education.

“The overall conclusion of the study is that the digital billboards studied in Richmond have no statistically significant relationship with the occurrence of accidents,” said the report, commissioned by the outdoor advertising industry.

The new study reviewed accident records in proximity to 14 digital billboard faces in the Richmond area. Nationwide, there are some 2,000 digital billboards. The outdoor advertising industry commissioned engineers to review crash data in five diverse markets in proximity to a total of 69 digital billboard faces in:

Cleveland, OH (2007, updated 2009)
Rochester, MN (2009)
Albuquerque, NM (2010)
Reading, PA (2010)
Richmond, VA (2010)

The consistent conclusion in all five areas was that digital billboards have no statistically significant relationship with the occurrence of accidents. Crash data were supplied by state and local authorities. The study in the Richmond area was based on official data collected by municipal police departments, Henrico County, and the Virginia Department of Transportation.

In Richmond, the crash-data analysis spanned more than seven years, examining accident rates near ten digital billboard structures with a combined total of 14 faces.
The engineers compared the rate of accidents before and after digital billboards were installed in the Richmond area, and compared locations with and without digital billboards. Drivers’ age and time of day were neutral factors.

The Federal Highway Administration is studying digital billboards and traffic safety. A federal report is expected soon, based on duration and frequency of eye glances in driving tests conducted in Reading, PA, and Richmond, VA.

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