ARRB is at the forefront in Australia in assisting various stakeholders evaluate the impact of digital billboard technology on driver behaviour.
In this evaluation, conducted by ARRB on behalf of the Outdoor Media Association (OMA), driver behaviour in the presence of two digital billboards at two complex intersections in Queensland – at the Gold Coast and Gladstone was assessed.
The intersections were filmed without any signage as well as in the presence of an outdoor digital billboard several times over a 24-hour period for four weeks in order to gauge the impact on driver behaviour. Billboards were active for several different dwell times, from eight to 30 seconds.
Researchers analysed two key measures plausibly related to the risk of certain types of crashes – lane drift and stopping over the line at an intersection. The research found lane drift was unaffected or results improved when signage was displayed. In addition, not stopping correctly by stopping over the line improved in all but one case. No crashes were recorded.
“This study showed it is sometimes possible for a digital sign at an intersection to operate with no apparent negative impact on driver performance and, in some cases, to improve it,” said ARBB principal researcher Dr Paul Roberts.
It is important to recognise that these results only relate to two specific sites and not to digital billboards generally. However, If the general parameters of how and when this absence of negative impact occurs can be precisely specified this would prove enormously valuable for all stakeholders.