Driving Performance in the Presence and Absence of Billboards

The current project was undertaken to determine whether there is any change in driving behavior in the presence or absence of billboards. Several measures of eyeglance location were used as primary measures of driver visual performance. Additional measures were included to provide further insight into driving performance--these included speed variation and lane deviation. The overall conclusion from this study is that there is no measurable evidence that billboards cause changes in driver behavior, in terms of visual behavior, speed maintenance, and lane keeping. A rigorous examination of individual billboards that could be considered to be the most visually attention-getting demonstrated no measurable relationship between glance location and billboard location. Driving performance measures in the presence of these specific billboards generally showed less speed variation and lane deviation. Thus, even in the presence of the most visually attention-getting billboards, neither visual performance nor driving performance changes measurably. Participants in this study drove a vehicle equipped with cameras in order to capture the forward view and two views of the driver’s face and eyes. The vehicle was also equipped with a data collection system that would capture vehicle information such as speed, lane deviation, GPS location, and other measures of driving performance. Thirty-six drivers participated in the study, driving a 35-mile loop route in Charlotte, North Carolina. A total of 30 billboard sites along the route were selected, along with six comparison sites and six baseline sites. Several measures were used to examine driving performance during the 7-seconds preceding the billboard or other type of site. These included measures of driver visual performance (forward, left, and right glances) and measures of driving performance (lane deviation and speed variation). With 36 participants and 42 sites, there were 1,512 events available for analysis. A small amount of data was lost due to sensor outages, sun angle, and lane changes, leaving 1,481 events for eyeglance analysis and 1,394 events for speed and lane position analysis. Altogether, 103,670 video frames were analyzed and 10,895 glances were identified. There were 97,580 data points in the speed and lane position data set. The visual performance results indicate that billboards do not differ measurably from comparison sites such as logo boards, on-premises advertisements, and other roadside items. No measurable differences were found for visual behavior in terms of side of road, age, or familiarity, while there was one difference for gender. Not surprisingly, there were significant differences for road type, with surface streets showing a more active glance pattern than interstates. There were also no measurable differences in speed variability or lane deviation in the presence of billboards as compared to baseline or comparison sites. An analysis of specific, high attention-getting billboards showed that some sites show a more active glance pattern than other sites, but the glance locations did not necessarily correspond to the side of the road where the billboards were situated. The active glance patterns are probably due more to the road type than to the billboard itself. One major finding was that significantly more time was spent with the eyes looking forward (eyes on road) for billboard and comparison sites as compared to baseline sites, providing a clue that billboards may actually improve driver visual behavior. Taken as a whole, these analyses support the overall conclusion that driving performance does not change measurably in the presence or absence of billboards.

  • Corporate Authors:

    Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg

    Virginia Tech Transportation Institute
    3500 Transportation Research Plaza
    Blacksburg, VA  United States  24061

    Foundation for Outdoor Advertising Research and Education

    1850 M Street, NW, Suite 1040
    Washington, DC  United States  20036
  • Authors:
    • Lee, Suzanne E
    • Olsen, Erik C B
    • DeHart, Maryanne C
  • Publication Date: 2004-2-29


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Print
  • Edition: Final Report
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 113p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01052031
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jun 19 2007 4:07PM