Digital Billboard Display Technology – Review Report
A human factors Consultant was requested to critique reports prepared for industry on the emerging outdoor advertising digital display technology. Our concern is for highway safety driver distractions and inattentiveness. This report confirms the need for guidelines for the design, use and application of digital technology in outdoor advertising along our State’s streets and highways. The pursuit of these guidelines is a part of the TRB NCHRP 20-07 program. Download the Digital Billboard Display Technology – Review Report (140 KB, PDF)
What Do I have to do to put up a Sign?
Before you erect or post a sign adjacent to a State highway, you need to contact the Maryland State Highway Administration - Outdoor Advertising Representative, at one of our District offices listed on the back of this pamphlet. This includes not just billboards, but yard sale, real estate, and other types of advertising signs.
Can I put my sign on the highway Right-of-Way or State property?
NO. State property is reserved for official traffic control signs or devices. Other signs are distracting to motorists and considered a safety hazard.
Why do I have to get a permit?
State and Federal regulations and laws require permits so we can keep track of the number, use, location, spacing, and maintenance of signs. This also helps us ensure signs are properly maintained, removed when they have served their purpose, do not clutter our roadsides, and do not create a safety hazard. There is an exception to the permit requirement for political signs discussed below.
Can I put up a sign on my own property, without a SHA permit?
YES. However, you must still meet certain conditions to put up an On-premise sign!
- The sign must only advertise activities or products available on the property. Signs advertising property for sale, lease must be located on the site advertised.
- The sign must be within 100 feet of the business activity ( such as the edge of building or parking lot )
- A permit is required for an on-premise sign that is within 660 feet of an expressway in an urban area. Outside an urban area, a permit is required for an on-premise that is within 660 feet of an expressway or is intended to be visible from an expressway, regardless of its distance from the road. Such a permit can only be issued if local zoning does not prohibit the on-premise sign.
- An Off-premise advertising signs (advertising something not sold on the property where the sign is located) requires a SHA sign permit and must meet other requirements related to size, lighting, zoning, and spacing.
- Off-premise outdoor advertising signs are prohibited along designated Scenic Byways.
Do I also need a permit from the county, town or city?
Counties, towns and cities have their own sign regulations. You may need to get a permit from the locality, as well as from SHA. Please check your phone book for the telephone number of your local government offices.
Where can I get an SHA sign permit application?
You can obtain an application from any District office.
How much do SHA sign permits cost?
Permits are based on the size of the sign number of advertising faces. Please contact your local SHA District Office for permit fees. All sign permits must be renewed annually and are due on April 30th. Out of State applicants must obtain a $1,000.00 Surety Bond, before sign permits are issued.
How long does it take to get a SHA sign permit?
Permit applications require the signature of the applicant, property owner, and local zoning board. You must also include a detailed site plan showing property lines, set backs from the right-of-way, location of the sign on the property, State Route No. and intersecting road, and distances from other sign(s) on the property. Once you have completed these requirements, you can usually get your permit in approximately 2 weeks. Responsibility for securing these approvals, rest with the applicant.
Can I use the flashing arrow on my portable sign?
If your sign is within 100 feet of your business and off State property, the light may burn constantly. Flashing lights are distracting to motorists and considered a traffic hazard. Under no circumstances may flashing lights or signs be used.
Can I put an off-premise advertising sign next to the interstate highway?
State laws prohibit off-premise advertising signs within 660 feet of an Interstate highways or other expressway and, except within an urban area, at any farther distance at which the signs are intentionally visible.
What About Advertising Signs Along Other State Highways?
Outside industrial and commercial areas, off-premise advertising signs also are prohibited within 660 feet of any other state highway and, except for urban areas, when viewable from a farther distance.
Are weekend real estate directional signs allowed along State highways?
NO. Although some local governments allow weekend real estate directional signs on county and municipally maintained roads, these signs are prohibited on State highways. SHA works with the Maryland State Police and local law enforcement to control this illegal activity since these signs can distract the traveling motorist and litter our highways.
Will I need to display the SHA sign permit on my sign?
YES, a numbered red and white aluminum permit tag will be issued to you. The permit must be displayed on the sign at all times. Replacement tags cost $5.00 each. Also the name and address of the sign owner must be displayed on the sign structure.
I am a candidate for public office. Do I need a State permit to advertise?
NO. Political signs do not require a permit, but they may not be placed in the median, along the shoulder, or anywhere else within SHA right-of-way, just as other advertising signs are prohibited.
Do I need an Outdoor Advertising License?
Yes. If you are in the business of renting, maintaining, or erecting outdoor advertising signs along State highways. SHA license fees vary and depend on the number of structures erected. Out of State applicants must also obtain a $1,000.00 Surety Bond, before the license is issued.
This pamphlet is not intended to replace Federal regulations or the laws of Maryland relating to outdoor advertising. For specific questions, refer to the Annotated Code of Maryland, Sections 8-701 thru 8-749.
For more information, please write or phone the District office nearest you:
(When calling our district offices, please ask for the outdoor advertising representative)