Billboard Wording May Distract Drivers

Mar 21, 2013 Posted by in Distracted Driving, Motor Vehicle Accidents and Safety, Personal Injury

Most of the discussion concerning distracted driving has focused on distractions inside the car. Handheld electronic devices, primarily cellphones, are often considered the source of most driver distraction. However, a recent study by the University of Alberta has found a possible risk outside the car.

Researchers have discovered that certain billboards are distracting to motorists. In a recent paper published in Accident Analysis & Prevention, University of Alberta researchers reported that drivers were distracted by billboards containing negative words – like cancer, killer or stress.

The study placed 30 students in a driving simulator and tested their skills behind the wheel. The test was similar to a video game, and subjects were asked to drive down a simulated road as advertisements appeared along the roadside. The advertisements containing negative or emotionally charged words distracted drivers the most. When negative words appeared on the screen, drivers slowed and veered outside their lanes, and some even crashed into trees, other vehicles and pedestrians. 

The results of this study are alarming, considering the prevalence of billboards along most major roadways. According to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, there are an estimated 450,000 billboard advertisements nationwide.  

Thousands of billboards line our Florida highways. In light of this recent study, perhaps a question that needs to be addressed is: Should billboard content be more closely regulated?

Under Florida law, billboards are regulated under a section of the Florida Administrative Code titled Outdoor Advertising Sign Regulation and Highway Beautification Program. The program is based on federal law and regulations as well as state statutes and administrative rules.

According to the program, any person engaging in the business of outdoor advertising must apply for a license from the Florida Department of Transportation. Further, an outdoor advertising permit is required for each advertisement facing a Florida highway.

Florida law also regulates the location, size, shape, lighting, and height of billboard advertisements but makes no mention of content.

A Florida Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help

If you or someone you love has been injured by a distracted driver in Florida, talk to an experienced Florida accident attorney. Call us today at (800) 299-8878 or fill out our convenient online contact form for a free consultation.

The law firm of Philip DeBerard, Injury Attorney, concentrates on helping accident victims in Stuart, Jupiter, Port St. Lucie, Okeechobee, Fort Pierce, Palm Beach and Vero Beach.

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