Critical information to address opposition to Electronic Message Center (EMC) signs and similar LED based illuminated changeable signs - From the USSC - The Online Magazine for the Sign Trade.
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March 23, 2010

Critical information to address opposition to Electronic Message Center (EMC) signs and similar LED based illuminated changeable signs - From the USSC

If your sign company is involved in selling Electronic Message Center (EMC) or other electronically changeable signs and works to obtain zoning approvals for these signs, you are likely to run into the Wachtel report which is increasingly being cited by planners and others opposed to EMC's.

Entitled Safety Impacts of the Emerging Digital Display Technology for Outdoor Advertising Signs, the lengthy 180 page report is the work of Jerry Wachtel, a human factors researcher based in California and president of the Veridian Group. Mr. Wachtel has been employed by the Federal Highway Administration, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, among other governmental agencies, and currently consults with such anti-sign groups as Scenic America.

Essentially, the Wachtel report asserts that EMC signs are distractive, and as a result pose dangerous traffic hazard issues. In making these assertions, it also seeks to discredit current professional and university based research which has shown no correlation between EMC usage and traffic accident rates.

Unfortunately, the Wachtel report contains very little if any proof of its claims. Nonetheless, it has achieved wide distribution in the planning community as well as to others opposed to electronic signs, and citations from it are likely to be used at zoning hearings and other venues by opponents of EMC technology

Without opposing argument, the use of the Wachtel report to buttress an anti-sign position can be destructive to the securing of permits for signs using EMC technology.

USSC now has the opposing arguments you will need when confronted with statements from the Wachtel report. It is entitled Inside the Wachtel 2009 Digital Display Report: A Commonsense Guide by Richard Crawford, USSC Legislative Consultant. If you are involved in zoning hearings involving EMC signs, it is critical that you read and understand this rebuttal report, which will provide the vital information you need to address claims made based on the Wachtel assertions.

You can obtain a copy from the home page of the USSC website,, which provides a link to the USSC report, which is also on the Zoning Information page of the USSC site.

United States Sign Council ( USSC )
211 Radcliffe Street
Bristol, PA 19007
Phone: 215-785-1922
Website URL:

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