When used under the right circumstances, the stop sign is one of our most valuable and effective traffic control devices. It is intended to help drivers and pedestrians determine who has the right-of-way at intersections.
Stop signs are often misused to arbitrarily interrupt traffic, which often causes drivers to use alternate routes. In these areas where stop signs are used as "nuisances" or "speed breakers," there are typically high incidences of intentional violations. Drivers also tend to speed between intersections where stop signs are continuously placed. For these reasons, the stop sign should not be used as a speed-control device.
A school crossing may appear dangerous for children to use, causing parents to demand that a stop sign be placed in the location. This scenario may cause as many problems as it solves. With the addition of stop control, a vehicle that had been a problem for three seconds while approaching and passing the intersection is a problem for a longer period.
A situation of indecision is created as the pedestrian doesn't know when to cross and the motorist doesn't know when to start. Normal gaps in traffic, through which crossings could be made safely, no longer exist. An intersection, which was not previously busy, now operates like a major intersection even though it really isn't. Studies have shown that the addition of stop signs at such an intersection does not improve safety for the pedestrians.
Most drivers do not intend to maliciously violate traffic regulations; however, the imposition of an unreasonable restriction may result in flagrant violations. In such cases, the stop sign can create a false sense of security for a pedestrian and an attitude of contempt for a motorist. These attitudes often conflict with tragic results.
Well-developed, nationally-recognized guidelines help to indicate when stop control is necessary. These guidelines take into consideration, among other things:
- The probability of vehicles arriving at an intersection at the same time.
- The length of time traffic must wait to enter.
- The availability of safe crossing opportunities.
POLICY ON STOP SIGN INSTALLATIONS
The City installs stop signs based on criteria defined in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. Traffic on state highways, arterial and major collectors will only be stopped by traffic signals.
Two-way and one-way stop signs are primarily installed to safely assign right-of-way. Other considerations are drainage dips, sight distance restrictions, school pedestrian crosswalk locations and accident history.
Four-way signs are not installed to control speeds. These stops may be installed on collector street intersections and on intersections of collector and local streets depending on volumes, sight distance, accident history, school crosswalks and pedestrian usage.