Digital Billboard Ban Lifted


Daktronics field reps who provided sign legislation support in Massachusetts: Bob Messier, Kelly Barrett, and Sheri Swanson

What’s the first step to installing a digital billboard? Usually, applying for the permit, right? Sometimes this isn’t a problem, but sometimes it is. That’s when you need help from people who deal with permits, and even changing the codes, all the time.

Several years ago, Massachusetts banned digital billboards from the entire state. Daktronics area representatives and our Sign Code Legislation department helped change that. It took a while, but since 2013, OOH companies have installed approximately 40 Daktronics billboards in the state.

State Level—Billboards and Traffic Safety

In 2008 during the state ban, the Massachusetts DOT established a pilot program to evaluate digital billboards and traffic safety. Several Daktronics digital billboards located in selected areas were part of a three-year process: one year to gather data, one with the digital billboards in use, and another to review the data.

Bob Messier and Kelly Barrett, Daktronics area representatives, were on hand to help several OOH companies obtain state permits to take part in the pilot study. When the evaluation was completed, the Massachusetts DOT memorandum stated:

“The traffic engineers preparing the reports found no detrimental safety impacts of the DABs [digital advertising boards] in any of the eight study area locations.”

Massachusetts regulations allowing digital billboards went into effect December 7, 2012.

Local Level—Educating Communities

As the pilot program wrapped up, OOH companies started applying for local permits. If the pilot program was a success, they’d be ready to apply for their state permits.

Daktronics representatives Messier, Barrett, and Sheri Swanson provided needed support, attending local zoning meetings all over the state, educating city officials about digital billboards, and clearing up misconceptions.

These representatives, along with information from the Daktronics Sign Legislation team, helped educate Massachusetts communities about digital billboards. Brightness is often a concern, and the Daktronics reps explained about light sensors that automatically adjust brightness to correct levels.

They also clarified that per Outdoor Advertising Association standards, billboard operators set hold times, prohibit flashing/blinking, and use only static content. They also pointed out the value of a communication network capable of relaying AMBERAlerts and FBI most wanted fugitive warnings.

For years, Daktronics has worked to change prohibitive codes. If you need appropriate sign code wording, legislation information, or an educational seminar, phone us at 1-800-325-8766 or email

Also visit our LED Sign Regulation page.

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