Digital News

Aussie Study Finds Digital Billboards Don’t Impair Driving

The Outdoor Media Association (OMA) of Australia just released an independent digital billboard safety study conducted by the Australian Road Research Board with encouraging results. Here’s what Insider learned after reading the study.

Where was the study performed:

Two traffic intersections in Australia: Gladstone, Queensland and Surfers Paradise, Queensland. Both intersections were busy, urban environments with plenty of pedestrian and car traffic.

The Methodology:

Cameras were placed at two intersections to measure lane drift (the number of instances of a car drifting outside a lane), stopping over the line (the number of instances where a car stopped over an intersection traffic line) and traffic incidents. The cameras were run for one week before and three weeks after a digital billboard was constructed in each location. The study measured lane drift, stopping over the line and traffic incidents at each intersection before and after a digital billboard was installed. The study measured the impact a digital sign compared with no sign, and the impact of 6 different “dwell times” or flips: 8 second, 10 second, 16 second, 20 second, 24 second and 30 second flips. The study measures all cars on the road, and drivers are naïve to the research, making it entirely naturalistic.

The results:

There were no traffic incidents at either location either before or after a digital billboard was installed.

At both locations lane drift went down or was unaffected by a digital billboard with every flip from 8 – 30 seconds.

Stopping over the line went down or was unchanged at 8 second, 10 second, 20 second, 24 second and second flip. Stopping went up at one location for a 16 second flip.

The Study’s Conclusion:

“In conclusion, the current evaluation investigated the impact of the presence of digital billboards on vehicle control performance. The sites evaluated were relatively complex signalized intersections. Because of the cognitive demands associated with negotiating a signalized intersection, these are the kinds of sites where it might be expected that drivers would display impairment from distraction. However, there was almost no evidence that the digital billboards at these locations impaired driving performance…”

“Interestingly, the current evaluation didn’t simply show a benign impact from digital billboards that were ‘front and centre’, it actually showed a positive impact on vehicle control from the presence of these digital billboards.”

Although a fairly small sample size and a fairly short duration, given this is an entirely naturalistic study, the results are very encouraging.