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Safety must be considered in electronic billboard issue

Posted: February 23, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: February 23, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Regarding the Feb. 13 Signal story “A closer look sought for billboard proposal,” I think the situation outlined in the article is actually two separate issues.

The first is removing 118 billboards citywide. The other is construction of three double-sided digital billboards along the Interstate 5 and Highway 14 freeways.

My concern is the installation of digital billboards.

Perhaps the city, hoping to net some revenue from the digital billboards, hasn’t considered the increase in accidents that will result from drivers attempting to read the billboards as they cruise along at 70-plus miles an hour on our crowded freeways.

With drivers already talking on their cellphones and texting (they don’t think the laws apply to them) and zooming between semis, the last thing we need is yet another demand for their attention.

City beautification is one thing — putting lives at risk is another.



technologist: Posted: February 23, 2014 10:15 a.m.

"…hasn’t considered the increase in accidents that will result from drivers attempting to read the billboards as they cruise along at 70-plus miles an hour on our crowded freeways."

Do you know this to be the case? What's the data source for your conclusion that electronic billboards increase accidents? Should the Caltrans information signs be removed as well?

CaptGene: Posted: February 23, 2014 10:34 a.m.

I too would like to know if there is some data on digital billboard related accidents.

As a purely anecdotal observation, I have noticed that when there is a message on the CalTrans boards the traffic slows to a crawl. Slow readers I guess. Usually the message is of no importance.

My opinion is that those signs should be reserved for truly important information, not telling you to pull over if you're in an accident.

technologist: Posted: February 23, 2014 11:35 a.m.

Concur, CG. My post isn't advocating the electronic billboards. I object to unsupported assertions and thus requested data from the LTE author.

Do we really need to know how many minutes it will take to reach the 605 FWY (always inaccurate)? --edited.

CaptGene: Posted: February 23, 2014 2:06 p.m.

Precisely. I am foursquare in favor of using these signs for Amber Alerts or other emergency information, but "High winds in Gorman"? Really, what a shock. It would be news if it wasn't windy in Gorman!

bbcalvin: Posted: February 23, 2014 5:49 p.m.

A quick internet search seems to indicate that there are several studies done over the last 10 years and none have found a link between digital billboards and increase in accidents. I didn't read them all since I don't have a strong opinion one way or another if the City is going to let Metro put them up. I'm sure the City has done research on this as it seems a lot of people are going to bring up safety as an issue.

technologist: Posted: February 23, 2014 6:32 p.m.

Those match my cursory results, bbcalvin. To my mind, it comes down to a trade off of aesthetics in the community and a financial cost/benefit review rather than safety.

My understanding is the City doesn't own the advertising space on the railroad right of way.

ricketzz: Posted: February 24, 2014 7:08 a.m.

It will make the city the aesthetic equivalent of driving North on I-15 in Southern Nevada. "Loosest slots in LA County". Klassy with a capital K. Kitsch for cash.

bbcalvin: Posted: February 24, 2014 2:23 p.m.

You are right technologist. They don't own the billboards or the right of way they are under now. In the proposal, they would be on city-owned land but will not own the billboards.

I don't see the digital billboards less aesthetic than the conventional ones. The proposed size of the three digital ones are quite large though. Maybe if the City is able to work another agreement with Metro to reduce the size of them, maybe more of the public would be favorable.

technologist: Posted: February 24, 2014 4:57 p.m.

Has Metro or the City done a digital mock up to scale to demonstrate what the appearance, i.e. size and luminosity, would be when viewed by a driver or resident on an adjacent property, bbcalvin?

bbcalvin: Posted: February 25, 2014 9:17 p.m.

I haven't seen anything personally. I think the planning commission meeting had a simulation of it. I would think they would have something similar at the council meeting.

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