Our Position: oppose
Bill Number: H1827
Sponsor: Rep. Nelson Cole
Legislative Session: 2006
H.B. 1827, DOT General Contractor License Exceptions, was amended to add provisions sought by the outdoor advertising industry to double the land area in front of billboards from which trees and other vegetation can be removed in order to increase the visibility and profitability of billboards.
Currently, the policy allows for 250 sq feet; industry is seeking to double this to 500 sq feet.
The concessions sought by the billboard industry would have a substantial and adverse impact on the landscape by dramatically reducing tree cover along the right-of-way.
The Board of Transportation has already voted on this very issue - after spending weeks examining the merits of the billboard industrys request. Furthermore, the current policy came out of a DOT task force - all interested parties had input and the ensuing position was a compromise amongst these groups.
HB 1827 eliminates the current policy that requires the billboard industry to pay compensation for the loss of the publics trees. Mitigation fees are used to replant trees elsewhere along the roadway.
Billboard view-time impacts safety In April of this year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a report showing that driver inattention is the leading factor in most crashes and near-crashes. The study reports that any distraction that causes the driver to direct their attention away from the forward roadway FOR MORE THAN TWO SECONDS causes a demonstrably increased risk of crash the billboard industry is asking you to extend the amount of time a driver will be paying attention to a billboard instead of the road by several seconds.
DOT signs and Billboards are treated differently for a reason The billboard industry is demanding that they should be treated the same as logo signs with respect to vegetation removal policies. Logo signs in addition to being regulated by the federal, not state, government are on the public right-of-way and there is limited need to cut vegetation for these signs because, in most instances, they are already visible due to NC DOTs normal mowing and maintenance activities. By contrast, the courts have ruled that billboard signs do not have a legal right to be seen.
The bill passed the House Transportation committee with the provision included. Representative Cole later removed the provision because of opposition and moved the bill forward sans the billboards piece.