Advertising billboards impair change detection in road scenes
Advertising billboards impair change detection in road scenes Jessica Edquist (MUARC), Tim Horberry (TRL, UK), Simon Hosking and Ian Johnston (MUARC). Throughout Australia and much of the world, roadside advertising by means of billboards is commonplace - but potentially distracting for drivers. As yet, there is little research into which specific aspects of driving performance might be affected by the presence of such advertising billboards. To investigate this, the present experiment used the 'change detection' paradigm to examine how billboards affect visual search and situation awareness in road scenes. In a controlled experiment, inexperienced, older, and comparison drivers searched for changes to road signs and vehicle locations in static photographs of road scenes. On average, participants took longer to detect changes in road scenes that contained advertising billboards. This finding was especially true when the roadway background was more cluttered, when the change was to a road sign, and for older drivers. The results are consistent with the small yet growing body of evidence suggesting that roadside advertising billboards impair aspects of driving performance such as visual search and the detection of hazards, and therefore should be more precisely regulated in order to ensure a safe road system.