Investigating the impact of static roadside advertising on drivers' situation awareness

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Roadside advertising has the potential to create a crash risk for drivers as it may distract attention from driving at critical times. In an on-road instrumented vehicle study, we examined if and how static advertising billboards affect drivers' situation awareness across different driving environments. Nineteen fully licensed drivers drove an instrumented vehicle around a 38 km urban test route comprising freeway, busy urban retail and arterial road sections. The route contained a number of static billboards. Drivers provided continuous verbal protocols throughout the drive. Results indicated that the structure and content of drivers' situation awareness was not appreciably affected by the billboards in any of the road environments examined. Drivers focused their attention on the billboards when driving demand was low, such as when driving on the freeway with light to moderate traffic, in lower speed zones, or when stationary. However, when drivers were required to perform a manoeuvre or driving demands increased, drivers directed less attention to the billboards and focussed their awareness on the immediate driving task. This suggests that drivers can, at least under some conditions, effectively self-regulate their attention to billboards when required to focus on the immediate traffic or driving situation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-145
Number of pages10
JournalApplied Ergonomics
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017


  • Billboards
  • Driver distraction
  • On-road study
  • Roadside advertising
  • Situation awareness

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