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Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)

CEVMS and Driver Visual Behavior Study - Peer reviewed report


September 2012

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The advent of 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 and Electronic Billboards.

The present report documents the results of a study conducted to investigate the effects of CEVMS used for outdoor advertising on driver visual behavior in a roadway driving environment. The report consists of a brief review of the relevant published literature related to billboards and visual distraction, the rationale for the Federal Highway Administration research study, the methods by which the study was conducted, and the results of the study, which used an eye tracking system to measure driver glances while driving on roadways in the presence of CEVMS, standard billboards, and other roadside elements. The report should be of interest to highway engineers, traffic engineers, highway safety specialists, the outdoor advertising industry, environmental advocates, Federal policymakers, and State and local regulators of outdoor advertising.

Monique R. Evans
Director, Office of Safety
Research and Development

Nelson Castellanos
Director, Office of Real Estate


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. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation.

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.

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Updated: 4/1/2016
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