All About Stop Signs
Stop signs are often requested with the goal of reducing speeding, but stop signs are actually designed to assign right-of-way at an intersection, not to control speeding. Stop signs represent a trade off between safety and delay. While public opinion may suggest that signs are necessary, they may not in fact be needed.
Stop signs should be installed at an intersection only when a careful evaluation of existing conditions indicates that their installation is both warranted and appropriate. But what harm can arise from unnecessary stops when unwarranted stop signs are installed?
1. Overuse of stop signs reduces their effectiveness because drivers tend to speed up between stop sign controlled intersections rather than slow down. In fact, studies have shown that at residential speeds, drivers accelerate to their original speed prior to the stop sign in less than 200 feet (that’s less than 3 house lots from the intersection). Driver acceleration and deceleration only adds to noise levels that can turn a quiet neighborhood into a race track.
2. Stop compliance is poor at unwarranted multi-way stop signs. Studies have determined that drivers see little reason to stop and yield the right-of-way when there is no traffic on the minor street. Unwarranted stop signs foster disrespect and disregard of the law.
3. Studies have found that pedestrian safety, particularly for small children, is reduced at unwarranted multi-way stop sign locations. Pedestrians expect vehicles to stop at the stop signs but many vehicles “run” the unnecessary stop sign.
4. Finally, placement of stop signs not warranted by engineering studies may violate State of Texas law.
Belmont Freshwater Supply District No. 1, is required by state law to comply with the guidelines of the Texas Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) when warranting stop signs. The MUTCD warrants for all-way stops (4-way and 3- way at intersections) are typically not met in residential areas because traffic volumes must be roughly equal on both streets and exceed 500 vehicles per hour for at least eight hours of the day. These conditions are typically only found where two major streets intersect and a traffic signal is not warranted.
If a stop sign is installed when it is not warranted, traffic safety is not improved and may actually be impaired. Unnecessary stops may cause rear-end accidents while increasing fuel consumption and adding to environmental concerns.