August 30, 2007
A response from the billboard industry

Lee Vela, the president of the Outdoor Advertising Association of Texas, has responded to the digital billboards story with the following letter to the editor in the Chron.

Regarding the Chronicle's Aug. 22 editorial ("Visual blight / Texas' policy should be to reduce distracting, ugly billboards, not make them more garish, profitable") and its Aug. 24 article ("Digital billboard plan stirs debate"): This media coverage on the issue of electronic billboards has brought to light an often repeated misconception about using these billboards in Texas.

The off-premise advertising use of electronic billboards that was proposed by the Texas Department of Transportation rules would allow one message change every eight seconds.

This use is static, as compared to on-premise casinos, whose displays are allowed to flash, blink and display motion.

The use of motion in electronic billboards in Texas would be prohibited.

Static electronic displays are highway safe.

The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute has conducted a study on static displays, and has found them "safety-neutral."

The institute is nationally renowned for its transportation studies and is often used by the federal government.

Additionally, another traffic study conducted by Tantala & Associates found that static displays had no statistical relationship to the occurrence of highway accidents.

Another critical component of the proposed rules is that the billboards would adjust their brightness for natural ambient light conditions.

A board that is found to be too bright would have to reduce its intensity to an acceptable level.

Finally, the rules allow cities to decide if, and under what conditions, off-premise electronic billboards could be erected.

We are doing everything possible to ensure their responsible use.

president, Outdoor Advertising Association of Texas, Houston

Thank you for the feedback. I'm glad to know that there's no degradation in highway safety due to these things. I still hate the idea and still think they'll be an extra level of ugly, no matter how much they're downplayed. And I still hope we never see them in Texas.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 30, 2007 to The great state of Texas

These have been popping up all over Pittsburgh. The rules sound similar to yours -- static images, infrequent (?) changes, and so forth.

They've been up for around 18 months now, and I honestly can't say that I notice them anymore, but they did seem godawful bright when they first went in. I still find the three-ad triangle billboard more distracting however. The changeover has a curious way of drawing my eyes!

Posted by: David Raitt on August 30, 2007 3:43 PM