Research Papers

Road safety regulations for digital and projected advertising displays: Issues to consider for consistent practice

Version 1
Date added June 17, 2014
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Category 2014 CMRSC XXIV Vancouver
Tags Research and Evaluation, Session 5B
Author/Auteur Garreth Rempel, Jeannette Montufar, Robert Dewar, Gerry Forbes
Stream/Volet Research and Evaluation

Slidedeck Presentation Only (no paper submitted)

5B Rempel_Road Safety Regulations for Digital and Projected Advertising Displays


Digital and projected advertising displays (DPADs) use light-emitting diode (LED) technologies to
dynamically change message content and have the capability of displaying high quality video and
animation on billboard-size screens. The rapidly decreasing cost of DPADs since the mid-2000s has led to
increasing pressure on governments to approve their installation adjacent to roads. Although the effect of
static roadside advertisements on driver distraction and road safety has been researched since the 1930s,
the effect of digital and dynamic advertising on road safety is still inadequately understood. Many
jurisdictions, both in Canada and worldwide, have struggled to regulate these signs due in part to their
rapid market penetration and the lack of information regarding their impact on road safety. This has
resulted in some jurisdictions instituting a moratorium on DPADs, others attempting to regulate DPADs
according to existing static advertising sign by-laws, and others creating new by-laws specific to DPADs.
The Transportation Association of Canada (TAC) recognized the need for national guidelines to help
government agencies regulate DPADs from a road safety perspective. This paper presents preliminary
research findings from a literature review and advertising sign industry representative interviews which
were used to develop these guidelines. Specifically, it discusses the following six issues to consider to
help jurisdictions develop transparent, consistent, reasonable, and flexible DPAD regulations: (1) DPAD
conspicuity, (2) sight distance measurement, (3) differentiating between on- and off-premise DPADs, (4)
defining animation exemption zones, (5) DPAD proximity to traffic control devices, and (6) DPAD
proximity to key decision-making points. Since this paper is based on ongoing research, it provides
information for each of the six issues – it does not provide recommendations (these will be included in the
forthcoming guideline) and does not necessarily represent the views of TAC.

Garreth Rempel, Jeannette Montufar, Robert Dewar, Gerry Forbes