The use of new, electronic billboards on roadways have alarmed those who feel the distracting signs will create an increase in auto accidents. However, a nonprofit group administered by the Outdoor Advertising Association of America has proven otherwise. Two new studies conducted by the group have proven that the electronic billboards make roads no more harmful than they are without the signs, despite drawing more attention than the average billboard. It is said that 500 of about 450,000 billboards in the United States use digital images. Communities are out to make sure that they are indeed safe to use and are implicated with a set of rules. The Federal Highway Administration agrees that the technology does need to be further researched. Virginia Tech’s Transportation Institute conducted one such study which had 36 drivers follow a 50-mile route around Cleveland in a vehicle which tracked their speed, lane movements, and eye movement between late 2005 and early 2006. The study concluded that while the signs are distracting to drivers, they are no more dangerous than any other attraction along the way. This makes these devices both successful marketing tools and a safe form of advertisement. The signs are also often placed directly in front of traffic lights so that drivers are not moving when they look at them and do not have to crane their necks to be able to see them. In saying this, the outraged sparked in San Francisco’s decision to allow electronic signs on California highways is unnecessary. The Assembly voted 60-3 to approve this bill which now goes to the senate. Instead of hiring a worker to replace the ads every once in awhile, the ads can change electronically every five seconds. In this way, billboards are catching up to the fast-paced, electronic age that society has entered into. For related articles visit http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07198/802156-28.stm and http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/localnews/detail?blogid=37&entry_id=16673.

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