In the "visioning group" regarding the future of the "visual landscape" of Los Angeles on last Saturday, CBS and CCO asserted numerous times that there were "numerous studies" that showed that digital billboards did not diminish traffic safety.  Of course they haven't produced a single independent, scientific study about how digital billboards would affect traffic safety in general, or specifically how they affect now or would affect in the future, the traffic safety of Los Angeles. 

They've also failed to mention the latest study on the impact of digital billboards on traffic safety that was recently conducted in Sweden and published in the journal Traffic Injury Prevention,  which showed the digital billboards harm traffic safety because they are too distracting. 

How can our Council be considering allowing the continuation of the illegal digital billboards and considering allowing MORE digital billboards without any scientific basis to do so?  Can anyone in the Council say conclusively that digital billboards won't detract from the traffic safety and aesthetics of Los Angeles?  For the last 12+ years, the City of Los Angeles' official policy has been against any new billboards, and any alteration to existing billboards, all in the name of improving the traffic safety and aesthetics of our communities?  

Why this sudden, dramatic, and scientifically unsupported change in the policy towards billboards?  There's no basis in common sense or in science for allowing these signs. Could it be because Clear Channel Outdoor and CBS Outdoor are on the verge of losing the 100+ digital billboards that were erected in violation of our LA Municipal Code? Could it be because CCO and CBSO have so much power, money and influence that they persuaded members of our City government in the Council to do their bidding and to try to rush through a new law that will protect these illegal, and hugely profitable, digital billboards from the Court of Appeal decision?

It can't be because the Council thinks that allowing these digital billboards will improve traffic safety or aesthetics.

If this is a democracy with a rule of law, it sure doesn't feel like or act like one.  We will only stop this madness if we continue to make our strong beliefs known to our elected officials, and if we continue to alert the press to the wrongs that are happening in our City government.

If you have not already, please sign our petition at If you've already signed it, please get another person to sign it as well. 


Here's the article:


Study says flashing digital billboards are too distracting

By Gary Richards San Jose Mercury News


Many drivers say the large digital billboards flashing ads every few seconds along Bay Area freeways are just too bright and too distracting.

And they may be right.

A Swedish study published in the journal Traffic Injury Prevention concludes that digital billboards hold the gaze of drivers longer than two seconds. Previous studies have shown that anything that takes a driver's eyes off the road for longer than two seconds increases the risks of a crash.

"This study validates what is common sense when it comes to digital billboards," said a statement from Mary Tracy, president of Scenic America, a national nonprofit group that seeks to limit billboards. "Bright, constantly changing signs on the side of the road are meant to attract and keep the attention of drivers, and this study confirms that is exactly what they do."

The report will be presented to a national transportation conference in Washington, D.C., later this month and is sure to draw interest over the growing installation of these signs. Last month a three-judge panel ordered the removal of 100 digital billboards in Los Angeles, and Denver has banned them.

The Federal Highway Administration allowed digital signs for the first time in 2007 after concluding they did not pose a significant danger to drivers. But a follow-up report is pending and could be released this year.

California has no law banning the billboards and is one of 39 states that allows them.

"We would need to review more research, so it's premature to call for a ban," said Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association. "There is a role for digital messaging such as that employed by states to convey Amber Alerts and other safety messages."

Caltrans has considered using digital ads on its electronic freeway signs as a way to raise more cash. And revenue is why more billboards are being installed in cities strapped for cash such as San Jose.

There are more than 1,800 digital billboards nationwide, more than double the number five years ago. In the Bay Area, there are digital advertising signs on Highway 101 near Great America, IKEA in East Palo Alto and in Redwood City, on Interstate 880 near Marina Boulevard, on Highway 237 near First Street, on I-80 east of the Benicia Bridge and on Highway 85 at Almaden Expressway. Another is planned at the 280-880 interchange adjacent to the Valley Fair shopping center.

While there is no data that indicates an increase in accidents caused by the Bay Area signs, many drivers are opposed to them.

"Monstrosities" is what Merlin Dorfman of San Jose calls them, while insurance agent David Whitlock says he has found them a major distraction.

"The brightness is by far too bright for at night," he says. "When the advertisement switches from a brighter color to a darker color, your eyes cannot adjust fast enough and you end up losing vision of the roadway."

Officials with sign companies could not be reached for comment, but Bryan Parker, an executive vice president for Clear Channel Outdoor, told USA Today last year that "there's no doubt in my mind that they are not a driving distraction."

Several years ago, a study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute concluded the signs did not pose a danger, but its findings have been challenged by critics.

The Federal Highway Administration requires states to regulate the distance between signs and how long one image can remain on screen before changing to another.

Last summer many South Bay motorists howled when a digital sign was installed off Highway 85 at Almaden Expressway. But criticism eased when the brightness was reduced.

"I still don't like the sign," said Marge White of San Jose, who says she frequently sees drivers ahead unexpectedly slowing on the freeway and guesses they may be reading the ads. "But it's not as distracting since it's not as bright as before."

Contact Gary Richards at 408-920-5335.

K. Hope
2/26/2013 05:22:57 am

I believe that the digital billboards are DEFINITELY a distraction because it happened to me. I nearly rear-ended another car on at least two occasions when I looked up at one of those signs. I don't do it anymore, obviously. In addition, I think they are ugly and smack very loudly of the type of look that was exhibited in the movie "Bladerunner" where there are hundreds of those signs everywhere. To me, that is very disturbing, not attractive, not inviting when driving through an area that has them. I think they are ugly and should be banned everywhere. One of the problems is that once you allow a few, then eventually more and more and more of them begin to appear and pretty soon we're overwhelmed with them. We have ENOUGH advertising shoved at us on a continuous basis. You can't get away from it. We don't need even more, with these billboards flashing MULTIPLE ads at a time on us. STOP DIGITAL BILLBOARDS! Please. Thank you.

Clifton H. Clark
2/26/2013 05:59:30 am

Clifton H. Clark
2/26/2013 06:08:01 am

If the electronic billboads are illegal, serve the offenders and send the Police/Sheriff out and turn-off the power. In other words - turn them off. Why argue? Why allow the distraction to continue? If the traffic ticket writers acted as the City Council is acting, the City wouldn't have any traffic violations revenue. Prosecute the violators.

Walter P Robles
2/28/2013 09:01:29 am

Go for it


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