Effects of advertising billboards during simulated driving

  • Published: Monash University, Applied Ergonomics, Volume 42, Issue 4, February 2011
  • Authors: J. Edquist, T. Horberry, S. Hosking, and I.Johnston
  • Date Added: 07 Feb 2013
  • Last Update: 07 Feb 2013
  • Format: pdf


Simulator trials to examine the effects of billboards on drivers, including older and inexperienced drivers who may be more vulnerable to distractions.


The experiment examined a range of driver performance measures using a driving simulator. The simulator experiment examined speed and lane change behaviours and also examined visual behaviour. A combination of road types (with varying levels of complexity) were presented to drivers, containing different types and numbers of advertising billboards and different hazard types and warnings. The study assessed how these billboards affected eye movement, visual attention and driver behaviour and also looked at how the effects on young novice drivers and older drivers compare with drivers who were neither old, young nor inexperienced (comparison drivers).

Key Findings:

  • Simulator trials show that the presence of billboards changed drivers’ patterns of visual attention, increased the amount of time needed for drivers to respond to road signs, and increased the number of errors in this driving task.

  • Reviews of RTI rates associated with advertising signs seem to show that these signs are correlated with higher RTI rates, particularly in certain situations such as junctions, when driver workload is very high or very low.

  • The presence of billboards in the simulator experiment distracted eye movements away from the road ahead and delayed responses to other road signs. Responses to other road signs were delayed by an average of 0.5 to 1 second in the presence of billboards, in which time a car travelling at 70 km/hour will have travelled almost 20m.

  • Eye scanning patterns for novice and older drivers were both more affected by billboards than eye scanning for comparison drivers. Older drivers made more lane change errors overall, but particularly when billboards were present.

  • The simulator trials demonstrated that even simple billboards can affect drivers’ attentional allocation and performance, therefore having the potential to lead to potentially dangerous driving situations.


Advertising signs, distraction, RTIs, safety


Robust academic document.