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Digital or analog? A recent study says that it does not matter which format a billboard takes when it comes to driving accidents. The eight year study, commissioned by the Foundation for Outdoor Advertising Research and Education, looked at the frequency of traffic accidents at various billboard locations throughout Reading, Pennsylvania to conclude that there is no greater chance for an accident when looking at print or digital billboards.
The Car Connection reports on the study: "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 Reading data matches data from Cleveland, Rochester, and Albuquerque, and all says the same thing: digital billboards are safe." The concern was based on the same features that make digital billboards appealing-- the increased sensory experience was also an increased distraction to drivers.
The conclusion is a welcome one for those proponents of digital billboards, which are said to be environmentally cleaner, and make outdoor advertising more affordable than their analog counterparts. Since their inception, digital billboards have been a popular form of advertising employed by business, and even the FBI. Featuring a brightly-lit visual display rather than static print, fans of the technologically-enhanced form of advertising are hoping that the study will encourage more cities to make the switch, or lift the ban placed on this form of advertising by some cities concerned by the potential for driving distractions.
Currently there are close to 450,000 digital billboards across the country. Whether catching criminals or increasing customers, the presence of a digital billboard is no more distracting than a print advertisement, at least if you are a Pennsylvania driver. Looks like we are back to blaming drivers for accidents.