Digital Advertising Billboards and Driver Distractions

There is growing concern that roadside advertising presents a real risk to driving safety, with conservative estimates putting external distractions responsible for up to 10% of all traffic incidents. Studies indicate that anything that distracts the driver from the forward roadway for more than two seconds significantly increases the chances of crashes and near-crashes. Reports confirm that 23% of crashes and near-crashes that occur in metropolitan environments are attributable to eyes off the forward roadway greater than two seconds. Nearly 80% of the crashes and 65% of near-crashes were caused by distractions that made the driver look away for up to three seconds. Digital billboards are composed of bright light, vibrant color, and image changes or motion and are designed to pull viewer's attention to the advertisement displays. As such, these displays may divert drivers' attention from the safe operation of the car thereby causing crashes. Studies sponsored by billboard advertising companies state that the presence of digital billboards does not cause a change in driver behavior in terms of visual behavior, speed maintenance, or lane keeping. In the past, attempts have been made to show the driver's diminished attention could result in more crashes in the vicinity of such billboards, but because of methodological problems, these studies have never been done in a sufficiently reliable manner. Due to the growing debate on this issue, an objective evaluation is needed to determine if the presence of digital billboards really distracts drivers' attention and, if distraction occurs, then to what extent. This project will study digital advertising billboards and driver distraction and will determine the correlation between the presence of digital billboards and traffic safety through literature review, crash data analysis, driver survey, empirical study using a driving simulator, and statistical analysis.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Contract Numbers:



  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Florida Department of Transportation

    605 Suwannee Street
    Tallahassee, FL  United States  32399-0450

    Alabama Department of Transportation

    1409 Coliseum Boulevard
    Montgomery, AL  United States  36130-3050

    Research and Innovative Technology Administration

    University Transportation Centers Program
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Performing Organizations:

    Florida International University

    Miami, FL  United States 

    University of Alabama, Birmingham

    Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering
    1075 13th Street South
    Birmingham, AL  United States  35294
  • Principal Investigators:

    Gan, Albert

    Sisiopiku, Virginia

  • Start Date: 20121004
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 20141231
  • Source Data: RiP Project 33611

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01640926
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: National Center for Transportation Systems Productivity and Management
  • Contract Numbers: DTRT12GUTC12, A0-UTC-057
  • Files: UTC, RiP
  • Created Date: Jul 13 2017 1:01AM