Digital billboards, according to some highway safety advocates, are “weapons of mass distraction” right up there with cell conversations and mobile texting, even though an earlier Virginia Tech study found otherwise.

The New York Times explains:

Safety advocates who worry about the dangers of distracted driving have a new concern beyond cellphones and gadget-laden dashboards: digital roadside billboards.

These high-tech billboards marry the glow of Times Square with the immediacy of the Internet. Images change every six to eight seconds, so advertisers can flash timely messages — like the latest headlines, coffee deals at dawn, a cheeseburger at lunchtime or even the song playing on a radio station at that moment.

The billboard industry asserts there is no research indicating they cause crashes, and notes that the signs do not use video or animation.

A 2007 Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study apparently found that digital billboards and ordinary billboards had about the same effect on driver behavior. But the lead researcher in that study appears to be distancing herself from it to some degree.

Even the researcher who led the Virginia Tech institute project, Suzanne Lee, while defending her science as sound, said that the potential for drivers to be distracted by the new billboards — and digital signs that use video and animation — should be investigated further.

Lawmakers in Michigan and Minnesota are considering temporary bans on new digital billboards.

Fortunately, most Virginia motorists drive responsibly, but if you–or someone you love–have been injured in an automobile accident brought about by a distracted driver regardless of the cause of the distraction, do not hesitate to get in touch with the personal injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Richard J. Serpe, P.C., Toll Free 877-544-5323, for a no-obligation consultation.


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