Scenic America Sues FHWA to Overturn Billboard Ruling
Recently, Scenic America filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia seeking to overturn a 2007 Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) ruling that has allowed for the proliferation of commercial digital billboards along the nation’s federal highways.
In 2007, FHWA issued a guidance memorandum to the HBA that stated that “a changing message through the use of lighting was not considered to be intermittent if the message changed in the range of every 4–10 seconds.” This memorandum allowed states to allow TV-like commercial messages to be displayed along federal highways so long as the message did not change more frequently than every four seconds.
Since the FHWA’s 2007 guidance the number of digital commercial billboards has significantly risen. According to the Outdoor Advertising Association for America, the number of digital billboards on interstate highways has gone from 1,800 to 4,000 since 2010. Most of these displays operate along federal highways regulated under the HBA. In many instances digital billboards distract drivers, thereby creating unsafe driving conditions. Digital billboards also have the ability to diminish the visual quality of the natural and built environment and contribute to visual clutter.
Scenic America is asking for help with their fight against FHWA’s 2007 guidance by urging concerned citizens to sign a petition to President Barack Obama and Senate and House of Representatives leadership asking them to take steps to have FHWA enforce the letter and spirit of the Highway Beautification Act. You can take action to help Scenic America with this petition here. Learn more about ASLA’s Billboards and Signage and Visual Resources public policies.