Regulating Signs in the Digital Age

What’s wrong with digital signs?

  • Aesthetic concerns: brightest objects in the landscape; become dominant visual element and overwhelm the fundamental character of the place; on-premise digital displays with motion can be particularly garish; distraction from other visual/scenic qualities; clash with historic or established architectural elements, even at great distances.
  • Highway Safety: brightest object in the driver’s field of vision, especially at night; cause inadvertent and instinctual glances; images rotate every¬†10 seconds or less causing lingering looks to see what’s next; complex messages often take 5 seconds to comprehend.
  • Other Considerations: effects on property values; light and noise effects on nearby households and businesses; enormous compensation costs if signs are altered, moved, or removed.

How bright is a digital billboard?

  • The sun is measured at 6,500 nits. During the daytime, a digital sign can be set at over 10,000 nits.

What do we know? (source: USDOT National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)

  • Anything that distracts the driver from the forward roadway for more than two seconds significantly increases the chances of crashes and near crashes.
  • 23% of crashes and near-crashes that occur in metropolitan environments are attributable to eyes off the forward roadway greater than two seconds.
  • Nearly 80% of the crashes and 65% of near crashes were caused by distractions that made the driver look away for up to three seconds.

Georgia Law

  • Outdoor Advertising Law, 32-6-75(c)(1): static for at least 10 seconds, minimum spacing 5,000 feet
  • Construction of part, 32-6-97: nothing in this part shall be construed to abrogate or affect any lawful ordinance, regulation, or resolution which is more restrictive than this part.
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