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The Possible Effects of Commercial Electronic Variable Message Signs (CEVMS) on Driver Attention and Distraction

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Foreword

The Highway Beautification Act of 1965 outlined control of outdoor advertising, including removal of certain types of advertising signs, along the Interstate Highway System and the existing Federal-aid primary roadway system. Since that time, most States have evolved a body of legislation and/or regulations to control off-premise outdoor advertising (billboards), and many local governments have developed similar rules.

The advent of new electronic billboard technologies, in particular the digital Light-Emitting Diode (LED) billboard, has necessitated a reevaluation of current legislation and regulation for controlling outdoor advertising. In this case, one of the concerns is possible driver distraction.

In the context of the present report, outdoor advertising signs employing this new advertising technology are referred to as Commercial Electronic Variable Message Signs (CEVMS). They are also commonly referred to as Digital Billboards (DBB) and Electronic Billboards (EBB).

The present report reviews research concerning the possible effects of CEVMS used for outdoor advertising on driver safety, including possible attention and distraction effects. The report consists of an update of earlier published work, an investigation of applicable research methods and techniques, recommendations for future research, and an extensive bibliography. The report should be of interest to highway engineers, traffic engineers, highway safety specialists, the outdoor advertising industry, environmental advocates, Federal policy makers, and State and local regulators of outdoor advertising.

Michael F. Trentacoste
Director, Office of Safety Research and Development

Gerald Solomon
Director, Office of Real Estate Services

Notice
This document is disseminated under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Transportation in the interest of information exchange. The U.S. Government assumes no liability for the use of the information contained in this document.

The U.S. Government does not endorse products or manufacturers. Trademarks or manufacturers' names appear in this report only because they are considered essential to the objective of the document.

Quality Assurance Statement
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provides high-quality information to serve Government, industry, and the public in a manner that promotes public understanding. Standards and policies are used to ensure and maximize the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of its information. FHWA periodically reviews quality issues and adjusts its programs and processes to ensure continuous quality improvement.

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Technical Report Documentation Page

1. Report No.
FHWA-HRT-09-018
2. Government Accession No. 3. Recipient's Catalog No.
4. Title and Subtitle
The Effects of Commercial Electronic Variable Message Signs (CEVMS) on Driver Attention and Distraction: An Update
5. Report Date
February 2009
6. Performing Organization Code:
7. Author(s) John A. Molino, Jerry Wachtel, John E. Farbry, Megan B. Hermosillo, Thomas M. Granda 8. Performing Organization Report No.
9. Performing Organization Name and Address
Human Centered Systems Team
Office of Safety Research and Development
Federal Highway Administration
6300 Georgetown Pike
McLean, VA 22101-2296
10. Work Unit No.
11. Contract or Grant No.
12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address
Office of Real Estate Services
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
13. Type of Report and Period Covered
Final Report, Phase I
January 2008–October 2008
14. Sponsoring Agency Code
15. Supplementary Notes
FHWA Contracting Officer's Technical Representative (COTR): Thomas M. Granda, Safety Research and Development, FHWA
16. Abstract
The present report reviews research concerning the possible effects of Commercial Electronic Variable Message Signs (CEVMS) used for outdoor advertising on driver safety. Such CEVMS displays are alternatively known as Electronic Billboards (EBB) and Digital Billboards (DBB). The report consists of an update of earlier published work, a review of applicable research methods and techniques, recommendations for future research, and an extensive bibliography. The literature review update covers recent post-hoc crash studies, field investigations, laboratory investigations, previous literature reviews, and reviews of practice.

The present report also examines the key factors or independent variables that might affect a driver's response to CEVMS, as well as the key measures or dependent variables which may serve as indicators of driver safety, especially those that might reflect attention or distraction. These key factors and measures were selected, combined, and integrated into a set of alternative research strategies. Based on these strategies, as well as on the review of the literature, a proposed three stage program of research has been developed to address the problem.

The present report also addresses CEVMS programmatic and research study approaches. In terms of an initial research study, three candidate methodologies are discussed and compared. These are: (1) an on-road instrumented vehicle study, (2) a naturalistic driving study, and (3) an unobtrusive observation study. An analysis of the relative advantages and disadvantages of each study approach indicated that the on-road instrumented vehicle approach was the best choice for answering the research question at the first stage.
17. Key Words
Commercial Electronic Variable Message Signs, CEVMS, Digital Billboards, DBB, Electronic Billboards, EBB, Driver Attention, Driver Distraction, Driver Safety, Outdoor Advertising
18. Distribution Statement
No restrictions. This document is available through the National Technical Information Service, Springfield, VA 22161.
19. Security Classif. (of this report)
Unclassified
20. Security Classif. (of this page)
Unclassified
21. No. of Pages
94
22. Price
N/A
Form DOT F 1700.7 (8-72) Reproduction of completed page authorized
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SI* (Modern Metric) Conversion Factors

Approximate Conversions to SI Units

Symbol When you know Multiply by To Find Symbol
Length
in inches 25.4 millimeters mm
ft feet 0.305 meters m
yd yards 0.914 meters m
mi miles 1.61 kilometers km
Area
in2 square inches 645.2 square millimeters mm2
ft2 square feet 0.093 square meters m2
yd2 square yard 0.836 square meters m2
ac acres 0.405 hectares ha
mi2 square miles 2.59 square kilometers km2
Volume
fl oz fluid ounces 29.57 milliliters mL
gal gallons 3.785 liters L
ft3 cubic feet 0.028 cubic meters m3
yd3 cubic yards 0.765 cubic meters m3
NOTE: volumes greater than 1000 L shall be shown in m3
Mass
oz ounces 28.35 grams g
lb pounds 0.454 kilograms kg
T short tons (2000 lb) 0.907 megagrams (or "metric ton") Mg (or "t")
Temperature (exact degrees)
oF Fahrenheit 5 (F-32)/9
or (F-32)/1.8
Celsius oC
Illumination
fc foot-candles 10.76 lux lx
fl foot-Lamberts 3.426 candela/m2 cd/m2
Force and Pressure or Stress
lbf poundforce 4.45 newtons N
lbf/in2 poundforce per square inch 6.89 kilopascals kPa

Approximate Conversions From SI Units

Symbol When you know Multiply by To Find Symbol
LENGTH
mm millimeters 0.039 inches in
m meters 3.28 feet ft
m meters 1.09 yards yd
km kilometers 0.621 miles mi
Area
mm2 square millimeters 0.0016 square inches in2
m2 square meters 10.764 square feet ft2
m2 square meters 1.195 square yards yd2
ha hectares 2.47 acres ac
km2 square kilometers 0.386 square miles mi2
Volume
mL milliliters 0.034 fluid ounces fl oz
L liters 0.264 gallons gal
m3 cubic meters 35.314 cubic feet ft3
m3 cubic meters 1.307 cubic yards yd3
Mass
g grams 0.035 ounces oz
kg kilograms 2.202 pounds lb
Mg (or "t") megagrams (or "metric ton") 1.103 short tons (2000 lb) T
Temperature (exact degrees)
oC Celsius 1.8C+32 Fahrenheit oF
Illumination
lx lux 0.0929 foot-candles fc
cd/m2 candela/m2 0.2919 foot-Lamberts fl
Force and Pressure or Stress
N newtons 0.225 poundforce lbf
kPa kilopascals 0.145 poundforce per square inch lbf/in2

*SI is the symbol for the International System of Units. Appropriate rounding should be made to comply with Section 4 of ASTM E380.
(Revised March 2003)

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Updated: 09/05/2014
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