Nuisance Lights

TranBC logoLights, without a doubt the subject that generates the greatest number of requests for DriveSmartBC articles. We've looked at almost every kind of light connected with the operation of a vehicle or cycle on a highway in British Columbia, so it's time to widen our view to the roadside. Have you been blinded by the light emitted by newer LED advertising signs?

I don't know about you, but I can point to a few roadside advertising signs that I'm familiar with that cause me discomfort due to their brightness when I approach them in darkness. It is almost as if the lighting level needed to make the sign stand out during the day has not been moderated when night falls. Since your eyes quickly adapt to the brightness level but take significantly longer to return to dark vision after you pass the sign, this can be a dangerous situation.

Depending on where you are driving, signs beside the highway are regulated by municipalities within their borders or the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure outside of municipalities. Either municipal bylaws or the Transportation Act provide the authority to require changes if these signs are a nuisance to passing road users. These bodies are also the authorities that grant permission to install the signs in the first place.

I cannot find any published standards for how much light from LED signs is considered to be hazardous, so complaints about them may be difficult to satisfy. The opinion of the MOTI official or bylaw enforcement officer may or may not match yours. However, a carefully worded complaint outlining your difficulty should raise the possibility of liability for a crash with both the official and the sign owner and that may be enough to cause a change.

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nuisance roadside advertising lights

Believe it or not, just as you approach Kelowna from the south along busy Highway 97, not only is there a virtual wall of billboards completely blocking your view of the city and beautiful Lake Okanagan, but along the sweeping right-hand, descending curve of the roadway, there is a HUGE billboard that is like a giant LED TV screen, staring you right in the face!

As if garish colours and eye-grabbing images aren't distraction enough, now advertisers have the ability to play a recorded series of MOVING video features that are distracting (and esthetically reprehensible) in broad daylight, let alone after dark! I doubt that this is the only jurisdiction in "Beautiful British Columbia" that has these roadside monstrosities.

Here is an instance of advances in technology outpacing our ability to create workable rules and road safety regulations. Surely we could devise a general, common-sense solution. Or the next thing you know, there will be loud TALKING billboards too!

Submitted by E-mail

"Right On !" (to quote a note from the mid 60's),

And good advice at the bottom.

Like most people, I just fume in silence not thinking to voice my complaint of these kinds of issues. Red has to be the worst.

I also find the red LED Rear Stop Lights on trucks and busses to be very annoying, almost painful, when stopped behind them at a traffic light at night.

In place of the old single filliment fixtures, we now are faced with dozens of super bright bulbs : all directed horizontally, at eye level. Ouch !

Nice to know I am not alone.

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