Controversial Allentown Digital Billboard Approved By Zoning Board
In July, the proposal of an Allentown digital billboard had residents up in arms. If approved, the sign would be displayed on the second story of the 11-story Two City Center. Two City Center is located across from the PPL Center at the intersection of Seventh and Hamilton streets. It seems that heavy resistance and questioning did not stop the approval of proposed plans for the controversial Allentown digital billboard.Despite the fact that several Allentown residents have called the billboard “tacky and inconsistent with the aesthetics of the surrounding neighborhood” Allentown zoners unanimously approved the 11-by-14 digital billboard. According to Lehigh Valley Live, the Allentown digital billboard will curve around the corner of Two City Center at Seventh and Hamilton streets. It will advertise clients both in that area and from outside the downtown location. With the approval of this controversial Allentown digital billboard, it seems disapproving Allentown residents are joining other disgruntled Americans who strongly disapprove of these digital displays that are popping up around the country. There is no question digital billboards are eye-catching. And we understand that some consider them tacky. But more importantly, do digital billboards cause a distraction when driving in a car? It’s not just local residents who are upset about the aesthetics of these digital billboards. The flashing colors and changing images also have safety experts concerned.
According to www.thenational.com, safety experts say they pull motorists’ eyes away from signals and pedestrians could lead to more accidents. A study published in a journal called Traffic and Injury Prevention found that digital billboards hold a driver’s gaze for longer than other signs on the road. The study also found that digital signs often take a driver’s eyes off the road for more than two seconds. The study’s authors said the digital billboards are brighter, are visible from further away, and show changing advertisements, thereby holding a driver’s attention for longer. With that being said, many critics do not believe that digital billboards are more distracting than a standard billboard.
Tantala Associates, “a multi-disciplined, professional, consulting-engineering firm…established in 1966” dug through eight years of traffic data from Reading, Pennsylvania. The data included some 35,000 accidents, stretching across an area that is “home to 26 digital billboards.” Tantala’s concluded “[D]igital billboards in the greater Reading area have no statistically significant relationship with the occurrence of accidents”.
That finding matches those generated by similar studies in Ohio, Minnesota, and New Mexico. Despite mixed data on the safety of digital billboards, whether Allentown residents like it or not construction will begin soon on this now approved Allentown digital billboard. The Allentown board voted 3-0 to approve the Allentown digital billboard.
“We have the law as it stands right now. You apply the facts and that’s the result you come to,” said board member Juan Camacho. “Two plus two can’t equal five because of personal preference. It has to equal four. The law says so.”
On the bright side Lehigh Valley Live reports the digital Allentown billboard does include some “reasonable restrictions” on the sign such as no “flashing” or “twinkling.”