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Swedish Report on Digital Billboards Inconclusive

Contact: Nicole Hayes
(202) 833-5566
nhayes@oaaa.org
 
For Immediate Release – January 7, 2013
Swedish Report on Digital Billboards Inconclusive

(Washington, DC) – Washington, DC (January 7, 2013)—A new study of digital billboards in Sweden has little relevance to billboards in the United States and did not draw conclusions about traffic safety, according to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA).
 
Experimental Swedish digital billboard on the E-4 Highway (March 2010)

"Whether the billboards attract attention too much, that is, whether they are a traffic safety hazard, cannot be answered conclusively based on the present data," concluded the report about a digital billboard trial program in Stockholm, Sweden, entitled “Effects of Electronic Billboards on Driver Distraction.”


Further, the report found digital billboards in Sweden did not affect driver behavior:

“No consistent significant changes in driving behavior with respect to speed, lateral placement of the vehicle or headway could be found before the billboard was visible, while it was visible and after it was passed.”

In the United States, traffic safety and digital billboards have been studied extensively by state and federal government. In February 2012, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) made information about its research available in response to journalists’ request via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). These documents indicated that drivers’ attention is drawn to digital billboards for periods of time “well below” safety thresholds. Sources: FHWA research summary, FHWA research staff memo.
 
Digital billboard along Interstate highway, Hartford, CT (October 2010)
In December, Massachusetts decided to allow digital billboards after a multi-year review of accident data. The report said, “The traffic engineers preparing the report found no detrimental safety impacts of the DABs (Digital Advertising Boards) in any of the eight study area locations.” Source: MassDOT safety memo

Meanwhile, government-sponsored anti-distraction programs use outdoor advertising – including digital billboards – to reduce texting and phoning while driving. Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 2011 report.

In the US, digital billboards are strictly regulated by size, lighting, and spacing. In Sweden, the experimental digital billboards were located on a major north-south highway known as the E-4. In the US, billboards are not located on the roadway, by law.

“The Swedish report was inconclusive, yet state, national, and private research has shown no impact on traffic safety in the US,” said Ken Klein, OAAA executive vice president. “When weighing the relevance of this research to the US, a good-science question is:  was the Swedish research on the same product operating under the same circumstances as digital billboards in the US? The answer is no.” 

 

 
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OAAA is the national trade association for the out of home (OOH) advertising industry. Founded in 1891, the association represents more than 90 percent of the US industry based on revenues. OAAA is dedicated to leading and uniting a responsible OOH industry committed to serving advertisers, consumers, and communities. The OOH industry generates $6.4 billion annually in ad revenues and donates more than $450 million in space each year. For more information, please visit www.oaaa.org

 

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