Sign association defends flashing LED lights in North Cowichan. (File photo)

Sign association defends flashing LED lights

North Cowichan preparing staff report on issue after complaint

Local issues that have been raised around LED signage on highways are considered “scare mongering” by the president of the B.C. chapter of the Sign Association of Canada.

David Atkinson said that the concerns in the Cowichan Valley about LED signage are the same issues that came with neon signage approximately 50 years ago.

He said he has a number of reports from various studies over the years on the topic, and the results are the same.

“They make it sound bad throughout the report only to have a disclaimer at the end that they found no evidence that the billboards are the cause of accidents,” Atkinson said.

“The issue that should be addressed is the brightness of the digital unit. These can be controlled and should be through sign bylaws.”

Atkinson said West Kelowna had an issue a number of years ago when a digital billboard was placed head-on to traffic.

He said that when it was first installed, it was blinding, but caused no accidents.

Atkinson said the local government put guidelines on the brightness.

“Today you can’t tell if this is a digital board or paper,” he said.

Council in North Cowichan unanimously asked for a staff report on LED roadside lights in the municipality after a presentation by Craig Meredith at the council meeting on Dec. 6.


Meredith reported that he had been blinded by white light coming from a flashing LED sign coming from a car dealership along the Trans Canada highway in North Cowichan.

He suggested the municipality may wish to seek legal advice before approving more digital sign permits and, at the least, consider amending the signage bylaw to include regulations as far as brightness and distraction is concerned.

Meredith cited a study in his presentation conducted by researchers at the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute that found drivers looked at digital billboards significantly longer than they did at other signs on the same stretch of road.

But Atkinson said the study did not conclude that digital billboards are a traffic hazard.

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