Graduation Year

2016

Date of Submission

4-2016

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Economics

Reader 1

Mary Evans

Rights Information

© 2016 Andrew Clary

Abstract

My study offers a strategy to examine the effects of outdoor advertising on traffic safety. Innovations in the out-of-home advertising industry suggest the potential for outdoor advertising to increase driver distraction and therefore vehicle accident rates. Moreover, city planners need to understand how sign-free zones perform relativecompared to other areas and whether there is a safety rather conservational or aesthetic motivation for such planned zones. In addressing these issues, the present study uses panel data collected from the Massachusetts Departments of Transportation and Revenue and the American Community Survey on cities and towns in Massachusetts from 2008 to 2012 to assess whether off-premise advertising displays have a significant impact on vehicle accident rates. Ultimately, this study finds no evidence that sign density, or the number of signs per road mile, consistently impacts accident rates. However, the presence of signs in general significantly and adversely affects traffic safety, increasing collision rates. While this detected effect may be causal, it may also be indicative of differences in city-specific policies and environmental circumstances across Massachusetts cities with and without off-premise advertising signs.

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