Advertisement
Find a Car
Go!

Study: Digital Billboards Don't Cause Accidents, People Do

Follow Richard

Digital billboard in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Digital billboard in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Enlarge Photo

Earlier this year, we talked about some of the controversies surrounding digital billboards. Proponents insist that they're cleaner than their analog variants, simpler to use, look better, and make outdoor advertising affordable to more companies, small and large. Haters say that they're unattractive energy hogs that distract drivers and cause accidents. Now, a new study shows that at least one of the opponents' complaints is baseless -- but it comes with a catch.

The study in question comes from Tantala Associates, "a multi-disciplined, professional, consulting-engineering firm...established in 1966". Tantala dug through eight years of traffic data from Reading, Pennsylvania; the data included some 35,000 accidents, stretching across an area that's home to 26 digital billboards. Tantala's conclusion? "[D]igital billboards in the greater Reading area have no statistically significant relationship with the occurrence of accidents". That finding matches those generated by similar studies in Ohio, Minnesota, and New Mexico.

There is, however, a small catch. The study was commissioned by the Foundation for Outdoor Advertising Research and Education, a nonprofit closely affiliated with the Outdoor Advertising Association of America. And the OAAA, of course, is a professional association that, among other things, helps promote the deployment of digital billboards and helps fight against anti-digital billboard laws in cities like Denver and Los Angeles.

Of course, we'd never want to impugn the  reputations of the good people at Tantala Associates and we have faith that they carried out their studies with every degree of professionalism. We're also sure that FOARE took a totally hands-off approach to the study. And yet...

If FOAA and the OAAA really want to make their most persuasive case, they should partner with organizations that oppose digital billboards to co-underwrite a study. Until then, even the appearance of impropriety will undermine their arguments.

A federal study is underway at the moment -- we'll see what they turn up. In the meantime, here's the FOARE press release.

* * * * *

For Immediate Release – August 17, 2010

Engineer: Digital Billboards Not Linked to Accidents

(Philadelphia, PA) – Eight years of data covering 35,000 traffic accidents in Reading, PA, indicate digital billboards are not related to traffic accidents, according to a new traffic safety analysis released today. The study, conducted by Philadelphia’s Tantala Associates, LLC, is the latest in a growing body of evidence showing digital billboards do not pose a problem for drivers.

“The overall conclusion of the study is that digital billboards in the greater Reading area have no statistically significant relationship with the occurrence of accidents,” the report says.

The Reading study reviewed accident records in proximity to 26 digital billboard faces on state and local roads. More than 233 million cars pass by these billboards every year.

The data came from local police and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation accident records. In addition to the overall lack of a relationship between digital billboards and traffic accidents, the study looked at other factors and measures. Driver age and time of day are neutral factors. And, for the first time, a predictive method called the “Empirical Bayes Method” was used to determine if accidents near digital billboards are inconsistent with what is statistically predicted. The answer was an unequivocal no.


Posted in:
Advertisement
 
Follow Us

People Who Read This Article Also Read

 

Have an opinion?

  • Posting indicates you have read this site's Privacy Policy and Terms of Use
  • Notify me when there are more comments
Comment (1)
  1. In 2009, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) released an independent study that analyzed existing research regarding traffic safety issues and digital billboards. This study was highly critical of the methodology of the billboard industry-sponsored studies by Tantala, and essentially concluded that they were meaningless. The report is posted at www.banbillboardblight.org/links/digital billboards and signs. Please read it before you accept the OAAA propaganda.
    Dennis Hathaway, President
    Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

 

Have an opinion? Join the conversation!

Advertisement
Try My Showroom
Save cars, write notes, and comparison shop with hi-res photos.
Add your first car
Advertisement
Take Us With You!
   
Advertisement

More From High Gear Media


 
 
© 2014 The Car Connection. All Rights Reserved. The Car Connection is published by High Gear Media. Stock photography by Homestar, LLC. Send us feedback.