The proliferation of electronic billboards has continued unabated. The billboard industry continues to claim that they have no effect on traffic accidents. Sorry, there are plenty of studies showing the opposite.
The University of Alabama conducted a study in 2017 of drivers in both Alabama and Florida. They found that accidents within a two-mile range of electronic signs increased over 25% in both states.
The nation of Israel conducted a study, also in 2017. They looked at the number of crashes after the digital billboards were removed. They found decreases in accidents from 30%-41%, depending on location.
Science Magazine, 2022, reported a Texas study of text-only billboards that were announcing the number of fatalities in the state for the year. They found that even simple text messages caused a 4.5% increase in accidents, extrapolated to as many as 17,000 crashes, including 140 fatalities, in all the states that use this type of sign.
Virginia Tech in a 2012 study found that drivers had significantly more accidents (80% increase) if they glanced at a sign for more than two seconds. Most of the digital billboards have a six- to eight-second life with as many as eight different messages per minute. This study was printed in the Journal of Injury Prevention. After publication, the Swedish government ordered the removal of all digital billboards!
In summary, whether in the U.S. or Europe, digital billboards significantly increase traffic accidents. We need to stop using simple word messaging billboards and digital billboards.
Perhaps when we have fully autonomous vehicles, we can revisit the issue?
David Matuszak and Maureen Hunter