Digital roadside billboards grabbing attention

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Digital billboards glow in the day and light up the night sky while you’re driving on Interstate 65 through Greenwood, but they’re still rare in other parts of the metro area.

The illuminated billboards along the highway tell drivers what’s on television tonight, where to stop for supper and when there’s an amber alert for a missing child. They’re like big television screens but show only static images that change two or three times a minute.

The technology is state-of-the-art but is rare in central Indiana because many communities ban the LED billboards.

Franklin, Johnson County, Indianapolis, Fishers, Carmel and Shelbyville all ban the digital billboards. Those cities have concerns about distracted drivers, light pollution and how they look.

They all require permits before anyone can put up a billboard, and all place restrictions on them, such as that they have to be so far off the road and can’t be too close to residential neighborhoods. Greenwood, for instance, allows billboards to be built only along Interstate 65 and requires that they be at least 1,000 feet apart, planning director Ed Ferguson said.

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