The advance in LED technology and price drop have made big LED billboards more and more common to be installed along roadside for advertisement purpose. New Swedish study, Effects of electronic billboards on driver distraction, proves that big electronic billboards indeed would distract drivers and increase road accidents.
The study found that there was a link between electronic advertising billboards along major roads and car crashes. The Swedish Transport Administration recently approved the installation of 12 electronic billboards for a trial period along a three-lane motorway with heavy traffic running through central Stockholm, Sweden, to evaluate the effect of electronic billboards on visual behavior and on driving performance.
In the study, a total of 41 drivers were recruited to drive an instrumented vehicle passing four of the electronic billboards during day and night. A driver was considered visually distracted when looking at a billboard continuously for more than two seconds, or if the driver looked away from the road for a high percentage of time. Dependent variables were eye-tracking measures and driving performance measures.
Data showed that drivers had a significantly longer dwell time, a greater number of fixations and longer maximum fixation duration when driving past an electronic billboard compared to other signs on the same road stretches. No differences were found for the factors of day and night, and no effect was found for the driving behavior data.
Electronic billboards have an effect on gaze behavior by attracting more and longer glances than regular traffic signs. Yet, more studies are necessary to prove whether electronic billboards attract too much attention and constitute a traffic safety hazard.