Journal article

The impact of road advertising signs on driver behaviour and implications for road safety: a critical systematic review

Advertising Road safety Traffic accidents Behavioural insights Regulator strategy


Driver inattention and distraction are recognised as two of the most critical factors for road safety worldwide. While roadside advertising is often identified as a potential source of distraction, it has received less attention compared to other types of distractions such as texting or calling while driving. Therefore, this study focused on the impact of roadside advertising signs on driver behaviour and road safety. To examine this, a theory-driven systematic literature review was undertaken. In total, 90 unique documents were identified and reviewed using the Task-Capability Interface (TCI) Model to explain the potential safety impact of roadside advertising. The findings confirmed that the TCI model is a useful tool for describing the relationship between roadside advertising and driver behaviour. From this perspective, roadside advertising signs can be considered environmental clutter, which adds additional demands to the driving task. In particular, roadside advertising signs impaired eye movement patterns of drivers. Additionally, it was demonstrated that the impact of roadside advertising on driving behaviour is greatly moderated by individual differences among drivers. Of great importance was that young drivers invest more attentional resources in interacting with roadside advertising, which suggests a lower capacity to discriminate between relevant and irrelevant driving information. Based on the available evidence, however, it is not possible to definitively conclude that there is a direct relationship between the driving behaviour changes attributed to roadside advertising and road crashes. Nonetheless, while most studies remain inconclusive, there is an emerging trend in the literature suggesting that roadside advertising can increase crash risk, particularly for those signs that have the capacity to frequently change (often referred to as digital billboards). Lastly, it is important to mention that most of the empirical studies undertaken to date feature strong methodological limitations. Consequently, there is an urgent need for more research in this area, given that roadside technology and the transport system are changing rapidly.

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