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Stop Signs

“Let’s put a STOP Sign There And Slow Down Traffic” WRONG!

Many local and county officials are often pressured by constituents to put in STOP signs at intersections where the citizens of the neighborhood want to interrupt traffic, either by making the vehicles stop or by making it an inconvenience so that the traffic will use more expedient routes. This is a bad practice and will usually create more problems than they solve. In addition, if the municipality does not pass a traffic ordinance to authorize the placement of this regulatory device, the sign has no enforceability.

Studies from around the country show that there is a high incidence of intentional violations where the STOP signs are installed as a speed deterrent. These studies showed that the speed was reduced in the immediate vicinity of the sign but the speeds were actually higher between intersections than they would have been if the signs had not been there.

When installed correctly, a STOP sign will tell the driver and pedestrian who has the right of way. The Federal Highway Administration’s Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices contains criteria, which must be met in order to justify the installation of STOP signs as well as traffic control signals. Among other things, these criteria consider traffic speed, sight distance, traffic volume and the frequency of gaps that occur in the traffic that would allow for safe vehicle entry or pedestrian crossing.

Most drivers are reasonable, but when faced with unreasonable restrictions, may violate them and develop contempt for other traffic controls. Not only is this dangerous for the driver but for the responsible agency as well. Unwarranted or substandard traffic control devices contributing to an accident can sometimes be grounds to award a judgment against an agency involved in a lawsuit.



This page last updated on 1/9/13