Electronic Billboards– Do They Cause Distracted Driving?

In an interesting article by Matt Richtel in the March 2, 2010 Business Section of the New York Times, electronic billboards are examined as another possible cause of distracted driving. We are all aware of distracted driving due to speaking on a cell phone and texting while driving, and who hasn’t seen someone driving while eating, drinking, applying makeup or looking at a map? However, what about driving while digital images are flashing at you every six to eight seconds, with headlines, food deals or what song is playing on the radio? In my opinion, the increased prevalence of these electronic billboards will undoubtedly lead to more car crashes and more fatalities on the roadways.

In Michigan, safety groups are attempting to block construction of the billboards, and the executive director of Scenic Michigan called the digital billboards “weapons of mass distraction.” Michigan legislators are considering a two year moratorium on the construction of electronic billboards. According to the article, the Federal Highway Administration is performing a study in which eye-trackers are utilized to determine whether motorists look at these billboards, and if so, for how long. Studies have been performed which indicated that electronic billboards do not change driver behavior, but their accuracy is questionable as they have been sponsored by the billboard industry.

The Federal Highway Administration has prohibited states from having “flashing, intermittent or moving light or lights” for some time, but possibly due to some intense lobbying by the billboard industry, the agency ruled in 2007 that free standing digital billboards did not violate their rules. Instead, the the agency simply recommended that advertisements on the billboards remain in place for at least 4 seconds and not be “unreasonably bright”, which is certainly a vague standard, to say the least.

If you have been the victim of a distracted driver, or have been in a New York car crash, slip and fall accident, or have been injured by a defective or dangerous product, contact the Westchester County Personal Injury Attorneys at the White Plains, New York Law Office Of Mark A. Siesel online or toll free at 888-761-7633. We will provide you with a free consultation with an experienced, knowledgeable trial attorney to discuss the facts of your accident and to determine if you have a case under New York law.