We’ve all been in a situation where you’re driving down a highway or a major city thoroughfare at night when a bright light blinds you. No, Putin didn’t push the button, that wasn’t a nuclear flash, what you saw was a digital billboard – a giant display screen playing ads on a loop.

Ubiquitous on the roads of Malaysia’s Klang Valley, electronic billboards are a form of revenue for highway concessionaires. Stuck in traffic jams like most drivers, advertisers have a captive audience whenever cars roll by.

But do electronic billboards pose a driving hazard, especially at night and in the rain, where the glare is exacerbated by the diffusion caused by raindrops? to this end, paultan.org Set out to find out whether electronic billboards are really too bright at night to distract drivers.

First, what do the regulations say?

Legal Regulations for Digital Billboards in Malaysia – Click to Enlarge

For Malaysia, outdoor billboard advertising is governed by the Local Government Act 1976 and the Streets, Drainage and Buildings Act 1974 and the relevant by-laws and regulations of the District Councils. Regulations state that electronic billboards are only allowed to be activated between 6am and 1am each day.

In addition, the brightness of billboards at night is also limited, and the luminosity is measured by a lux meter. Judging from the Department of Public Works (JKR) Billboard Luminance List, the regulations are based on standards published by the Institution of Illuminating Engineers in the UK and approved for signboards by JKR and TNB.

In the measurement standard, it is pointed out that the maximum allowable brightness of electronic LED billboards or displays is 600 cd/m2 when the lighting area is less than 10 square meters, and the maximum allowable brightness at night is 300 cd/m2 for billboards measuring more than 10 square meters . For billboards larger than 10 m2 on rural roads, the nighttime figures drop to 400 cd/m2 and 200 cd/m2, respectively.Anyway, the numbers that matter to us are 300 cd/m² For large billboards within city limits.

How do we measure “brightness”?

If you’re wondering what the units mean, cd/m2 is candela steradian per square meter, which is defined as the unit of illuminance and luminosity. For research purposes, we used a calibrated lux meter, which measures illuminance in lux, or lumens per square meter, and coincidentally, 1 cd/m2 equals 1 lux. To make it easier to understand, from now on we will restrict the use of cd/m2 by law.

So properly equipped, paultan.org Depart on roads and expressways in Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Jaya and the Federal Highway, stopping at selected spots where the roads are illuminated by electronic billboards. As the measurements were taken at midnight, stray lighting from other sources such as car headlights or buildings was kept to a minimum when ambient conditions were slightly cloudy.

The readings were taken from five locations – LDP at Kelana Jaya station eastbound, Jalan Maarof in Bangsar Village and Bangsar Shopping Centre, Junction 17 of Sprint Highway and Sheraton Petaling Jaya in Jalan Utara. Measurement specifications call for readings to be taken one meter away, but since we were unable to do so, our readings were taken from a standing position as close as possible to the billboard, usually about 20 to 30 meters away.

Actual discovery – brighter than our future!

exist Bangsarreading 170 and 207 cd/m² They were taken to Bangsar at Bangsar Village and Jalan Maarof respectively. During the measurements, we noticed that the colors and graphics displayed on the screen had a significant effect on the light readings (white ads gave higher numbers), and we chose to only record the maximum value during the test.

exist Sprint Section 17 Intersection, maximum 184 cd/m² is recorded. It has to be noted that standing in front of a billboard displaying the brightest ad was enough to give our cameraman Patrick’s camera meter spasms when the readings were just in line.

The physics are almost bright enough to hurt, and are an annoyance at best. However, these are subjective feelings and vary from person to person. Or, as Patrick puts it, “Maybe older people perceive light differently.”

Heading to Petaling Jaya, we stopped at Sheraton Petaling Jaya Hotel, where there is a billboard bright enough to actually cast a shadow.We took a measurement and the reading was surprisingly low 134.7 cd/m².

Sure it’s bright, but Meek had suggested earlier that there was a specific billboard along the road Kelana Jaya That’s enough brightness to rival that of the sun.So we recorded an almost unbelievable reading there 277 cd/m2.

What conclusions can we draw from the measurements of the electronic billboards we visited? On the one hand, the overall lighting level is highly dependent on advertising, based on colors and graphics using white and yellow to record high values.

So, are they legal or illegal?

While yes, all billboards record values ​​within the allowable range, these numbers are a considerable distance from what is actually displayed.If we take them from a distance of one meter as prescribed, we Pretty sure all of these will be over 300 cd/m2. In fact, the Kelana Jaya screen measured 277 cd/m2 at about 30 meters away. Starting from one meter, this figure is sky-high!

Even setting aside the raw numbers, it’s clear (pun very much intended) that while driving in a car, the amount of lighting is certainly bright enough to distract and temporarily blind the driver. Some of them are absolutely illegal as far as we know, and from what we’ve seen firsthand it’s hard to believe they should be allowed.

What do you think of our findings? If you are a driver in and around the Klang Valley, please reply below where you feel the brightness of the electronic billboard is too bright.

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