A study on one of Israel’s busiest highways found that the removal of roadside billboards significantly reduced the number of crashes along the roadway, including a more than two-thirds reduction in fatal or injury crashes.
The analysis on the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv compared the number and types of crashes at treatment sections, where billboards were present along the roadway, with crashes within a control group of road sections where billboards had been removed or covered.
In 2007, before the billboards were removed or covered, there were a total of 95 crashes within the treatment sections. In 2008, after the billboardswere removed or covered, there were 65 crashes, a decrease of more than one-third. The decrease in injury or fatal crashes was even more compelling: from 55 in the ‘before’ period of 2007 down to 17 in the ‘after’ period of 2008, a more than two-thirds reduction.
The study’s authors said: “The downward trend in accidents in the ‘after’ period was robust and consistent…particularly for injury crashes. Therefore we can conclude that…there is empirical evidence of a link between the removal of advertising signs and the improvement of road safety on an urban / suburban highway.”
The opportunity to perform the study presented itself because of a governmental order to temporarily remove or cover the billboards. This allowed the researchers, working on behalf of Israel’s National Road Safety Authority, to look at crashes in the vicinity of these billboards both before and after they were removed or covered.