Billboard industry uses disputed research to support safety of electronic sign

A report on FairWarning calls attention to a study from Sweden revealing that drivers stare longer at  electronic billboards which may, in turn, increase the risk of a crash. In response the U.S. billboard industry has cited “an unpublished U.S. government study” that purports to deny that these displays affect traffic safety. The wrinkle is that the study remains unpublished because “expert reviewers concluded that its key findings were not believable.” The problem is not yet a large one because probably not more than about 3000 of the 400,000 billboards in the U.S. are electronic, flashing “a new message every six to eight seconds.” It is important to stress that the Swedish study did not claim the signs were actually a danger but reaffirms that they “attract more glances than the other signs.” This is no excuse, however, for the industry to use questionable research in its defense.

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