Traffic hazards associated with mobile billboards on the Las Vegas Strip are cause for concern
The Clark County Commission is considering further tightening regulations on the brightly lit, truck-mounted signs, saying they distract drivers and impede traffic.
That’s not sitting well with Mike Foland, owner of Flo Advertising, a local marketing company that specializes in mobile billboards.
“Everywhere you look on the Strip, there’s LED boards everywhere playing lights and distractions, so I don’t know why we’re getting singled out,” Foland said.
Commissioners this month heard a presentation from the county’s business licensing department about mobile billboards on the Strip. Some commissioners said they wanted to do away with them altogether.
“These have no business on the Strip,” Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick said at the meeting. “I didn’t like them before; I don’t like them now. But it seems like we’re stuck with them.”
Officials from the departments of business licensing and public works said they conducted a study on Las Vegas Boulevard between Tropicana Avenue and Elvis Presley Boulevard to determine the effect mobile billboards have on safety and traffic flow.
They found mobile billboards travel noticeably slower than a typical car during nonpeak hours on the Strip.
While most vehicles drive the 2.6-mile Strip in 10 minutes, mobile billboards take an extra six minutes, according to county officials.
The billboard trucks also tend to travel primarily in the middle lane and sometimes form a “stack,” with multiple trucks traveling in a line some 30 to 60 feet apart.
County officials said this contributed to the already congested traffic on Las Vegas Boulevard.
Commissioners also were troubled by the distraction the lights from the mobile signs caused. During the study, county officials observed several advertisements that used loud sounds, flashing lights and screens that emit higher levels of light. Commissioner Ross Miller complained about billboards that used a fog machine.
Air quality issues were also a concern because the billboards are pulled on flatbed trucks that produce more pollution than most cars, commissioners said. Las Vegas ranked in 2022 as the 11th-most ozone-polluted city in the U.S., according to the American Lung Association’s State of the Air report.
“There’s obviously a significant public safety concern with having advertisements in the right of way where you want drivers to pay attention,” Miller said. “The idea that we would take a corridor as important to us as the Las Vegas Strip and allow it just for advertisements for what public utility, I have no idea.”
Some of the proposals include revising county code to require companies lower the illuminance of their mobile billboards, limit the amount of mobile billboard licenses permitted on the Strip to 100, and require that mobile billboards travel in the far right lane of the Strip.
While Foland agreed that some of the loud sounds or bright lights should be “toned down a bit,” he said some of the county’s proposed regulations would cause more problems for business owners and the county.
A 2019 county moratorium prevented more people from entering the business. The industry has five license holders who own 86 vehicle decals — the stickers put on trucks that allow them to operate as mobile billboards that allow them to advertise, Foland said.
But banning the vehicles outright would require further studies, county officials told commissioners.
County officials added that it also might bring constitutional challenges.
“They’ve had a bad taste in their mouth for billboard trucks over the years,” Foland said. “There’s a lot of bad operators out there, (but) I believe those five (operators), for the most part, they’re doing the right thing.”
Kre8 Media has the most at 63 trucks, while Silver Lining owns 17, Red Line three, Do-it-Outdoors two and Foland’s Flo Advertising has one.
Foland started his company in 2018 and has done advertisements for both local and national brands, from the Shade Tree to Champion.
But he said it had been difficult growing the business, especially with large players like Kre8 Media. These proposed regulations would make it even harder on “the little guys,” Foland believes.
County officials “also have to think of us small guys. We’re just trying to navigate this whole thing and figure out how to regulate the industry,” Foland said. “It just doesn’t seem like they’re looking at this from the perspective of a business owner.”
No ordinance has been drafted or introduced yet. This could change in the coming months, though.
Foland said he and the four other industry players have been meeting with the county to discuss possible compromises. He wants to continue working to develop a solution that will benefit everyone.