Road Safety News

Giant billboard raises safety concerns

Thursday 18th December 2014

The IAM has raised concerns over plans to erect a giant advertising hoarding with moving digital images over a major road in Edinburgh (Edinburgh Evening News).

The 30-metre video screen, spanning four lanes of traffic, would be sited above the Gogar roundabout on the main route to Edinburgh Airport.

Talking to Edinburgh Evening News, Neil Greig, director of policy and research at the IAM, said a large digital advert near a busy road went against “best practice” for road safety.

Neil Greig said: “Although it’s very difficult to put your finger on definitive evidence either way, it is clearly a distraction.

“These things are designed to be looked at, and if you’re looking at the hoarding, you’re not looking at the traffic. The contractor (advertising firm JCDecaux) and the council should be promoting road safety best practice, and best practice would be not to have any distractions at a busy roundabout.”

The Edinburgh Evening News says a road safety report compiled by analysts WYG Transport, and submitted as part of JCDecaux’s application, says “the advertising installation is unlikely to result in an increase in accidents on the off-ramps due to driver distraction”.


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The only effect this can possibly have is that of distration. The pupose of the advertising board is to attract attention and focus on the adverts for monetary gain. So to say the installation is unlikely to result in an increase in accidents is based on what?

Agree (29) | Disagree (1)

The item doesn't say that it has been approved - only that it's a proposal. I would expect the local highway authority will decide for itself whether this will be a driver distraction and not be swayed by the reassurances given by the applicant's appointed consultant. I've always been a bit sceptical about the impartiality of TIAs and the like, when submitted by the planning permission applicants themselves.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (12) | Disagree (0)

With 'distracted' driving being such a hot subject at the moment it is surprising that an august body like the IAM should say that there is no definitive evidence either way about it and that a firm of repected transport planners should be so firm in their opinion.

Perhaps then it's about time that the industry created a definitive guide to what actually constitues a distraction and whether or not being distracted is an essential part of the driving process.
Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon

Agree (9) | Disagree (2)

The issues with distraction by advertising centre around the advert's position within the drivers' search field, the extent to which the driver is inadvertently attracted to the advert and the length of time the advert is visible for. This is then coupled with the complexity of the driving task at the point where the advert is positioned.

Raised level adverts have been found to be less distracting than street level adverts as they compete less with a driver's search for hazards. Video or moving adverts are more distracting as they attract attention more.

The longer the advert is clearly visible for, the less the distraction, as the driver has more time to selectively allocate attention during dips in demand from the driving task.
Matt Staton, Cambridgeshire

Agree (2) | Disagree (4)

As long as the average motorist understands this I guess we should all be Ok with it.

Agree (6) | Disagree (2)

Thanks Matt for providing us with the definitive guide so quickly. I have taken the liberty of just changing and adding the odd word here and there to make it appropriate for all distractors as well as adverts.

"The issues with distraction centre around the distractor's position within the drivers' search field, the extent to which the driver is inadvertently or deliberately attracted to the distractor and the length of time the distractor is visible for. This is then coupled with the complexity of the driving task at the point where the distractor is positioned".

It is now possible to universally replace the word 'distractor' with the name of any object as it will not change the sense of the statement. Change 'distractor' with 'road sign' or 'burning building' and you'll see what I mean.
Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon

Agree (5) | Disagree (2)

Yes but the advert proposed is a moving pictorial one and therefore not a static like the 99.99% of others that are viewed by the road. It will therefore represent a greater danger when it may last for say 10 seconds and wish to hold your attention for that length of time.

It will be a decision made by the Local Authority under provisions of the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (England) Regs. 2007. The Highways authority will be involved and consulted also on safety grounds. Adverts that are likely to distract motorists are unlikely to be approved.

There are only two matters which a planning authority needs to consider before granting express consent. The first is the effect of the advertisement as an amenity and the second is the effect on public safety. It is an offence to display in contravention of these regs and subject to a maximum fine at Magistrates Court of £2500 and for a continuing offence £250 per day.

That said I suppose the company can argue that Blackpool illumination fall soundly within this medium and still they go on year after year, or Piccadilly and other junctions and roads in all our major cities. Particularly at Christmas time. There is a precedence for this form of advertising.
Bob Craven Lancs Space is Safe Campaigner.

Agree (8) | Disagree (0)

It has little to do with the average motorist understanding it - it's for the planning authority to decide on appropriate positioning of advertising and I hope they would also consult experts in the field themselves.

The story is about adverts, hence my choice of words, but thanks for the edited version. If I'm ever in need of a proof-reader I'll be in touch ;)
Matt Staton, Cambridgeshire

Agree (2) | Disagree (2)

Daft as a brush, and irresponsible with it.
Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield

Agree (8) | Disagree (3)

Unfortunatley, Matt it's the average motorist that will be effected by it.

Agree (6) | Disagree (0)