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Regulating Digital Signs and Billboards (S606) Sponsored by Zoning Practice


Both studies were paid for by the Foundation for Outdoor Advertising Research and Education. Driver Distraction #1 Cause of Crashes Specific Distraction: ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Regulating Digital Signs and Billboards (S606) Sponsored by Zoning Practice

Regulating Digital Signs and Billboards
(S606)Sponsored by Zoning Practice
  • APA National Planning Conference
  • Tuesday, April 28, 2009

(No Transcript)
Meet Our Panel
  • Marya Morris, AICP
  • John Baker
  • Dan Mandelker, FAICP

Electronic / Digital Sign Types and Technologies
Old School Changeable Copy
Electronic Message Centers
Tri-Vision Electronic Static Display
  • Tri-Vision

Static Display
Video LED Billboards
Digital/Programmable Ink
1978 Highway Beautification Act co-opted by
billboard industry to require cash payment for
billboard removal. 2007 FHWA further
circumvented the law by allowing digital
billboards along federal highways pending a
current study
They are Supposed to Distract Drivers
Model AlphaEclipse Excite 35mm The AlphaEclipse
Excite 35 is designed to provide the ultimate
outdoor advertising experience. The 35mm pitch
produces a dominant, outdoor full color, full
motion LED digital sign for higher speed roads
around town, for highly elevated locations, or
for highway installations that cannot be ignored.
Research on Electronic/Video Signs and Traffic
Regulating Digital Signs and Billboards (S606)
APA National Conference, April 28, 2009
Research Summary
  • Smiley, Univ. of Toronto (2001)
  • Video signs in direct line of sight are very
  • Wallace (2003)
  • Signs can distract drivers even if they are
    watching the road billboards are distracting in
    both cluttered and uncluttered areas exact
    reason for driver distraction usually goes

Research Summary (continued)
  • Beijer Smiley, University of Toronto (2004)
  • Drivers make twice as many and longer glances at
    video signs
  • Texas Transportation Institute (2005)
  • Flashing messages are more distracting, less
    comprehensible, and require more reading time
  • WisDOT/CTC (2006)
  • Visually complex locations, e.g., intersections,
    compound the distraction problem

Research Summary (continued)
  • Non-peer-reviewed, billboard industry funded
    studies that have been debunked
  • Tantala, Albert Martin Sr., and Michael Walter
    Tantala, Tantala Associates. 2007. A Study of
    the Relationship between Digital Billboards and
    Traffic Safety in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. July 7.
  • Lee, Suzanne E. et al. 2007. Driving Performance
    and Digital Billboards Final Report. Virginia
    Tech Transportation Institute Center for
    Automotive Safety Research. March 22.
  • Both studies were paid for by the Foundation for
    Outdoor Advertising Research and Education.

Driver Distraction 1 Cause of Crashes
Causal Category Percentage of Drivers Contributing to Causation
Driver Distraction 22.7
Vehicle Speed 18.7
Alcohol Impairment 18.2
Perceptual Errors 15.1
Decision Errors 10.1
Incapacitation 6.4
Other 8.8
Source National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration, 2001 2006.
Specific Distraction of Drivers
Outside person, object or event 29.4
Adjusting radio, cassette 11.4
Other occupant in vehicle 10.9
Moving object in vehicle 4.4
Other device in vehicle 2.9
Adjusting vehicle/temp 2.8
Eating or drinking 1.7
Dialing/using cell phone 1.5
Smoking 0.9
Other distraction 25.9
Unknown distraction 8.6
Zeigarnik Effect
  • Potential effects of video signs and EMCs on
  • Scrolling messages require viewers to
    concentrate how long depends on size,
    resolution, length of the message
  • Sequences of images or messages that tell a
    story may capture drivers attention for the
  • Anticipation of a new image appearing may
    distract driver, who feels compelled to wait for
    the change.

Source G. Wachtel, The Veridian Group, Video
Signs in Seattle Final Report. 2001.
Modes of regulating dynamic displays
Five alternative approaches
Regulating Digital Signs and Billboards (S606)
APA National Conference, April 28, 2009
A. Complete or near-complete bans
  • A broad prohibition,
  • Supported by broad definitions and
  • No exceptions, or ones that are crafted with
    safety in mind

B. If your City generally dislikes such signs,
but not these kind
One local suburbs general approach
  • Citywide permission to operate dynamic displays,
    under. . .
  • Strict conditions designed to reduce
  • Proliferation, and
  • Distraction

Examples of restrictions
  • Long minimum display time (20 minutes)
  • Only a percentage of a sign can be dynamic
  • Dynamic text cannot be too small
  • How? Set a minimum font size that varies by the
    speed limit on the road
  • Source of standards the sign industrys best
    practices formula

C. Allowing dynamic billboards, if more static
ones come down
  • The underlying principle one sign that is
    dynamic allows consolidation of many
  • Minnetonka, Minnesotas incentives provision
  • The City had a restrictive ordinance and
    restrictive enforcement stance
  • Clear Channel well take down half the
    billboards in town (and keep at least ½ of the
    rest static) if up to eight others can become
    dynamic and change every eight seconds.

Minnetonkas incentives approach
  • The City proposed which signs should come down
    (based on safety and planning criteria)
  • A side agreement keeps more than one dynamic
    billboard from being visible from any single
  • The eight-second duration was hard for the city
    to swallow, but Minnesota law allowed no better
    way for the City to get rid of so many billboards

D. Allowing flashy signs in selected districts
  • Minneapolis flashing signs are lawful only in
    its downtown opportunity billboard district
  • East Dundee, IL car dealerships, retail centers
    and amusement establishments can use
  • Video signs (in one overlay district)
  • PowerPoint-type displays (in another one)

E. Encouraging dynamic displays
  • One consultant dynamic displays should reduce
    blight caused by temporary signs
  • His client (Cuyahoga Falls OH) limits sign face
    size, but rewards certain types with bonus area
  • Those who chose a dynamic over a static sign can
    have a 20-larger sign face

Cases on Digital Signs
Daniel R. Mandelker Stamper Professor of
Law Washington University in St. Louis
Regulating Digital Signs and Billboards (S606)
APA National Conference, April 28, 2009
Prohibiting Digital Signs
  • Naser Jewelers, Inc. v. City of Concord, 513 F.3d
    21 (1st Cir. N.H. 2008)

Content Neutrality
  • A threshold question is whether the restriction
    is content-neutral
  • A regulation that serves purposes unrelated to
    the content of expression is content neutral

Goals and Purpose
  • The statement of purpose includes promoting
    traffic safety and community aesthetics. We look
    to the legislative body's statement of intent.

Narrow Tailoring
  • Concord's interests in traffic safety and
    community aesthetics would be achieved less
    effectively without the prohibition.

Need for Studies
  • NJI argues that Concord must perform studies to
    uphold the ban. Concord was under no obligation
    to do such studies or put them into evidence.

Alternative Channels
  • NJI can use static and manually changeable signs,
    place advertisements in newspapers and magazines
    and on television and the Internet, distribute
    flyers, circulate direct mailings, and engage in
    cross-promotions with other retailers.

Lessons Learned
  • Be neutral. Ban everything.
  • Have a good statement of purpose.
  • Prepare your defense.
  • Read Metromedia and Vincent.
  • Read Street Graphics and the Law.

Conversion Prohibited
  • Adams Outdoor Advertising., L.P. v. Board of
    Zoning Appeals, 645 S.E.2d 271 (Va. 2007)
  • No nonconforming sign shall be structurally
    altered, enlarged, moved or replaced,

Court Holding
  • The electronic message board added between 3,000
    and 3,500 pounds to the weight of the
    billboardIt did not increase the billboard's
    height, length, or the square footage of its
    advertising surface area but increased the
    billboard's depth.

Lessons Learned
  • Careful definition of prohibited change is
  • Clear Channel Outdoor, Inc. v. City of Arden
    Hills, (Ramsey Co. 8/1/08) (conversion is
    prohibited expansion)

Dans Website
  • 2007/2008 session PowerPoints available

Regulating Digital Signs and Billboards (S606)
Questions and Answers
Regulating Digital Signs and Billboards (S606)
Thank You!