Nova Scotia regulators are sorting out competing claims about whether roadside LED billboards are distracting to the point where they pose a safety risk to drivers.
This week a Halifax sign company, One Oh One Limited, appealed the city's refusal to allow it to install an LED billboard on the side of its building at a busy intersection at Kempt Road and Windsor Street.
"We have found evidence there has been no increase in traffic accidents around similar signs across North America," said Sean Murphy of One oh One.
The city disagrees. It's prepared to defend itself in this case. Another refusal in Dartmouth also under appeal.
"If for some reason the Utility and Review Board says we should allow these, then in our opinion they are putting the public in jeopardy because we're saying we believe this is a safety hazard," said Ken Reashor, director of transportation for the Halifax Regional Municipality.
In the case of Murphy's company, the HRM said flashing LED lights could distract drivers, pulling their eyes from traffic signals at the Windsor Street interchange where One oh One is located.
"At an intersection like that, we are very very concerned about the impact," Reashor said.
But Murphy dismisses that claim. His building is next to a car dealership that has many promotional signs.
"If you look around this intersection there's so many promotions going on its hard to believe this sign would really be an additional distraction," he said.
Besides, said Murphy, Halifax allows LED signage elsewhere, pointing to an LED billboard on the Bedford Highway, a major traffic artery.
"That is significantly closer than what we are proposing. What we're really looking for as business owners is clarity and consistency around just what we can do and how those rules are applied," he said.
Reashor responds that each LED billboard application should be decided on its merits. As for the billboard on the Bedford Highway, he said the HRM is weighing whether to rescind its own approval after complaints from emergency services the billboard is a distraction.