Regulating Signs in the Digital Age

Presentation given by Bill Ross during the Winter 2009 GAZA conference.

 

What's wrong with digital signs?

- Aesthetic concerns: brightest objects in the landscape; become dominant visual element and overwhelm the fundamental character of the place; on-premise digital displays with motion can be particularly garish; distraction from other visual/scenic qualities; clash with historic or established architectural elements, even at great distances.

- Highway Safety: brightest object in the driver's field of vision, especially at night; cause inadvertent and instinctual glances; images rotate every 10 seconds or less causing lingering looks to see what's next; complex messages often take 5 seconds to comprehend.

- Other Considerations: effects on property values; light and noise effects on nearby households and businesses; enormous compensation costs if signs are altered, moved, or removed.

 

How bright is a digital billboard?

- The sun is measured at 6,500 nits. During the daytime, a digital sign can be set at over 10,000 nits.

 

What do we know? (source: USDOT National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)

- Anything that distracts the driver from the forward roadway for more than two seconds significantly increases the chances of crashes and near crashes.

- 23% of crashes and near-crashes that occur in metropolitan environments are attributable to eyes off the forward roadway greater than two seconds.

- Nearly 80% of the crashes and 65% of near crashes were caused by distractions that made the driver look away for up to three seconds.

 

Georgia Law

- Outdoor Advertising Law, 32-6-75(c)(1): static for at least 10 seconds, minimum spacing 5,000 feet

- Construction of part, 32-6-97: nothing in this part shall be construed to abrogate or affect any lawful ordinance, regulation, or resolution which is more restrictive than this part.