Roadside Advertising Affects Driver Attention and Road Safety

by Lene Herrstedt, Poul Greibe and Puk Andersson


3rd International Conference on Driver Distraction and Inattention

For many years, roadside advertising along rural roads has been strongly restricted in Scandinavian countries, mostly for safety reasons and aesthetic considerations. But during the last decades, a growing pressure on road authorities caused by significant financial interests has resulted in a rapidly increasing number of advertising signs along rural roads.

The signs are placed with the purpose of capturing drivers’ visual attention. Every time the drivers’ visual attention is distracted away from the road and towards competing advertising signs, the time available for the drivers’ response to avoid a crash if something unexpected occurs is reduced. In this perspective, it is relevant to ask whether roadside advertising affects driver attention and road safety.

With the purpose of clarifying this question, a literature study followed by empirical studies has been carried out. The empirical studies were made by use of an instrumented car equipped with a camera system to track eye movements, GPS for registration of speed behaviour, and laser scanner for measurement of distances to other road users.

The overall results of the empirical studies show that advertising signs do affect driver attention to the extent that road safety is compromised.

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