Do Denmark’s election placards distract drivers?

A study has found that election placards, widely used in Denmark by political parties and candidates during election campaigns, can distract motorists.

Do Denmark’s election placards distract drivers?
2022 election campaign posters fill the city streets in Copenhagen. photo: Kristian Djurhuus/Ritzau Scanpix

Drivers in cities could be at increased risk of being involved in an accident during parliamentary election build-ups, according to research by researchers at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU).

“In the period in which election placards are up, we have estimated that there is approximately 0.5 accidents extra each day within city zones, compared to what there usually would be,” associate professor Anders Stockmarr of DTU’s Statistics and Data Analysis department, who supervised the research, told news wire Ritzau.

The results could indicate a connection between a higher number of accidents and the presence of the placards, he said.

“This could be because people look up at the election placards and become less attentive in traffic, and so accidents sometimes happen,” he said.

The students behind the research looked at data from municipal, regional and EU elections as well as parliamentary elections. Placards and posters are used in all types of election.

Although data from other types of election also suggested drivers may be distracted, “the effects were small and we have not been able to document that they are actually there,” Stockmarr said.

That may be because the higher profile of parliamentary elections means drivers are more likely to give their attention to them.

 “These numbers should be used to warn that drivers in cities should be cautious during the election campaign. People should double check traffic before looking up at an election poster,” Stockmarr said.

The data used in the study was collected from seven parliamentary elections between 1997 and 2019.

Accidents involving alcohol or medicine or known to be caused by weather conditions were not included in the data set. Rural areas, where election posters are fewer, were also not included.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Danes protest against plan to abolish public holiday

Tens of thousands of Danes protested on Sunday against the government's plan to abolish a public holiday to help fund the defence budget.

Danes protest against plan to abolish public holiday

“It’s a totally unfair proposal”, said Lizette Risgaard, the head of the FH union which organised the demonstration and which has 1.3 million members in the country of 5.9 million inhabitants.

Protesters, estimated at between 40,000 and 50,000 by police and organisers, gathered outside parliament in Copenhagen and carried signs reading “Hands Off Our Holiday” and “Say No to War”.

Around 70 buses ferried in demonstrators from across Denmark.

Denmark’s left-right government coalition, in power since December and led by Social Democratic Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, plans to scrap the religious holiday known as Great Prayer Day, observed since the 17th century.

The government wants to use the money generated to raise the defence budget to NATO’s target of 2 percent of GDP by 2030, instead of 2033 as previously planned.

It insists the accelerated calendar is necessary due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

But Danish unions argue the decision to make Danes work an extra day violates the country’s sacrosanct collective wage agreements, negotiated by the unions and the government.

The government decision is “breaking into our Danish model”, Risgaard told AFP.

“The next time we in our parliament think that we need some more money, will they take another holiday or a Sunday and say, ‘oh you’ll have work there’,” she said.


Mads Overgaard, an 18-year-old student, said he came out to support the Danish model.

“It’s very important that it doesn’t change, because it’s one thing to change this case, but what will they do next time?”, he told AFP.

Kurt Frederiksen, the 56-year-old head of the hotel and restaurant branch of the 3F union, said he also disagreed with the government using the money to boost defence.

“We don’t think that money for war will ever make peace”, he said.

Meanwhile, Johannes Gregers Jensen, the Dean of Copenhagen in Denmark’s Evangelical-Lutheran Church, of which around 73 percent of Danes are members, said the main problem was the “principle that is broken here”.

Denmark has a long tradition whereby Church matters “are decided by the people in the Church and the government shouldn’t put their finger into that”, he said.

“They are doing that… and that’s a huge problem.”