What do you think about the LED billboards on our roads?

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Unless you have serious eye-sight problems, you can’t have missed those 3 huge LED billboards at strategic locations on the motorway, namely both entrances to Port Louis and at Phoenix. Since their installation a couple of months back, these new billboards have raised a number of concerns on road safety due to the distraction caused and sometimes, alarming brightness levels. The Road Development Authority (RDA) have summoned the company “Rent A Sign” for having installed these billboards without their approval.  Additionally, the special advisor of the Prime Minister, Mr Buntipilly, present during the small launching party held at the entrance of Port Louis (from the north, right besides the motorway), has declared that he asked for a decrease in the brightness of the display screens.

Well, now my comments :

Distracting billboards

Indeed, these LED billboards are distracting, I strong agree, especially when the videos being broadcast include large areas of white and vibrant colors.

But that’s their aim. But we should remember something : LED billboards are not something which Mauritians invented. So, how are they handled and controlled in other countries? The “Rent a sign” company said that they installed the 3 billboards according to international standards. What were they and how different can they be in our local context, causing so much fuss around their installation in our landscape?

Unauthorized installations

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As per press articles, it seems that the Road Development Authority have sent legal notices to the company in regards to their unauthorized installations. According to the RDA which regulates any form of road publications (panneaux d’affichage) along road sides, they have never approved any installation of LED billboards.

What if a “pti copain” owned those billboards?

transat

Based purely on my assumptions, I can bet that none of the authorities would have dared to stand against those billboards if ever they were owned by someone having priviledged relationship with the persons in power. Instead, appropriate legal frameworks would quickly be created to approve such installations. And then, our roads will then be comparable to those “public” beaches over-crowded with transats (Sun chairs).

Huge LED screens are not new in Mauritius

LED PL

Yes, while it might sound surprising to some people, several huge LED screens have been around since quite a long time. For example, the Municipaility of Port Louis has a large one on its building, right in front of the Sir Seewoosagar Ramgoolam Street (ex-Desforges). Although it is not used for advertising purposes, the huge LED screen continuously displays details about events, festivals or other information such as time, date and temperature.

However, I can confirm that the luminosity levels of these LED installations are much more acceptable to those 3 new billboards installed along the motorway. For comparison purposes, the luminosity of the LED billboards are nearly the same as the huge LED screens at La Croisette (Grand Bay).

No, speed cameras will not solve the problem

The introduction of speed cameras have probably decreased the number of accidents in specific areas but however, it might not be the most suitable solution to all problems. In regards to this, I don’t know what they might end up with but it might not be surprising if the authorities decide to install speed cameras just in front of the billboards to force drivers to slow down so that they can appreciate the adverts, safely. After all, speed cameras have proved to be a good sense of investment for the government. I wonder if in some months, speed cameras might be listed in the Stock Exchange of Mauritius. [To read : Map of speed cameras in Mauritius]

What’s your stand?

To conclude, I’m not totally against the new LED billboards on our roads. There are more serious concerns about our existing road infrastructures which make driving dangerous in some parts of the island. One thing for sure : I’m pretty amazed at the incredible speed with which the local authorities reacted following the installation of the LED billboards. Normally, it can take years for them to find a problem and a solution.

And now, what do you think about these LED billboards? Any comments and experience to share?

12 thoughts on “What do you think about the LED billboards on our roads?

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  1. not annoying. is same in a lot of countries. The speed cameras flash gives more lumens than this.

    Because probably it isn’t owned by pti copain, that’s why there is so much of fuss around this.

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  2. “several huge LED screens have been around since quite a long time.”

    Yes – Municipality of Vacoas-Phoenix and Meteoreological Station. They are small and apparently of lower luminosity. But this is not a correct way of assessing this: think about all the LED traffic signals some of which seem acceptable and others appear to be like headlights on “full” – the intensity should be measured first before giving out such normative statements like “alarming brightness levels” or “these LED installations are much more acceptable to those 3 new billboards installed along the motorway”.
    Why?
    First, there is no measurement made so far. It’s based purely on subjective sensory perceptions so far. Just imagine this: the same bulb that there is in your car headlight can be acceptable when set to “dim” or blindingly intense when set to “full”. It’s just a question of which bulb is found near or at the focal point of the concave mirrors found inside your headlight: the outgoing beams then either shine down to the ground (“dim”) or high up (“full”).

    Same for lighting fixtures on the road. Take the street lightings: all of them are made to focus down onto the street. Have you ever stared up into that light? If yes, it’s the same intensity at all times, but it depends where you are standing. And where your eyes are pointing to.

    One point in illustrating this is the flood lights used to illuminate the football pitch at the Camp Fouquereaux football ground. One – just one bloody hell of them – is wrongly oriented, and it shines its beam through the trees onto to nearby roundabout, and boy, if this is not distracting! Yet, no one seems to care. Apparently, according to your analysis, either it was installed by a “petit copain” or a non-business related activity (funded from governement money).
    One of the solution sets could be to
    (1) measure the luminous intensity
    (2) measure the orientation
    (3) check with international standards (there exists one for airports, e.g., banning flashing lights and/or lasers for averting temporary blinding of air and ground crewsi)
    (4) issue notices for changing luminous intensity and orientation of all LED displays (including traffic lights) to prevent direct conflict with incoming line of sight of road-users.

    The curious thing is that none of these so-called authorities seem to be aware of one similarly glaring (excuse the intended pun) example of their own incompetence: wrongly set vehicle headlights! There are around 65% (my own stats, considering the number of vehicles that I cross after dusk which I have to remind of their callous indifference, which causes by co-pilot wife to sulk) vehicles (and 85% of motorcycles) which either have one/two headlights permanently set on “full” or have replaced their original bulbs with aftermarket high-discharge / neon ones. If I could I’d install a thing like this on my dashboard and rear windscreen…

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    1. lol. Sorry Sir for assessing the luminosity based purely on my eyes 😛
      Talking about luminosity and car lights, I remember the authorities setting a maximum of 6000 or 8000k for car headlights. But are they able to measure it? Has anyone been fined in regards to this? Probably no, they are not yet equipped but I might be wrong with this assumption, again.

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  3. If the company owning the speed camera is listed, i wil be the first one to take a loan to buy the shares. Its really a very good investment. Same as airway coffee

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  4. Hi Yashvin,

    the only time I pay attention to Billboards is if I’m not the driver. Else when fully concentrated while driving I pay no attention at all to Billboards – except when waiting for the traffic light to turn green. Like @akashguragoredo:disqus was mentioning I also came across some stadium (not Camp Fouquereaux, more in the north) flood light that is wrongly set along the highway and once I thought it was someone with full beam right head on and for a few seconds puts you off guard thinking there is a ghost driver in front of you… However I haven’t yet noticed how those led billboards are at night and if they are annoying. Do they run 24/7?

    On the other hand I hope not to see a billboard jungle… Some places already have really A LOT of billboards!

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    1. We do have a billboard jungle. It’s just that we are too accustomed to them…
      We have to hope that there will be NONE along the new Anil-roads, like the picturesque Terre Rouge-Verdun one…

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  5. I kind of think this one is quite okay compared to the defimedia live news led screen on the way towards coromandel which can cause accidents more easily since people will tend to red the live news which changes on and on

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