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How a STOP Sign Serve Its Purpose, Traffic Devices & Safe Driving

Standard Stop Signage

The purpose of stop signs, locations as to where you can put up two-way signage, & the warrants for traffic control devices.

Question: What is the purpose of a STOP sign?

This, of course, is a hotly debated topic!

Some have said that a STOP sign should be used as a dinner plate, while others a shield to deflect arrows, but not bullets. Some juveniles have insisted that STOP signs should be used as wall décor in their bedrooms.

But I say that these signs should be used strictly as traffic control devices, at intersections where if there were no STOP sign, many accidents would happen.

And furthermore, stop signs should be used coming out of parking lots to prevent shoppers (particularly WalMart shoppers) from just driving out into traffic without even slowing down!

So, the answer to your question, most succinctly stated, would be to get someone in a car, on a motorcycle, or in a truck, or any other motorized vehicle, to STOP!

Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

Where should two-way STOP signs be installed?

Anywhere where the flow and speed of traffic from the right or left is greater than the speed limit and flow of traffic from the incoming street, road or highway. If there is too much traffic from all 4 directions consistently, then a signal light or 4-way Stop sign.

Question: What are “warrants” for traffic control devices?

Controlling Traffic A warrant for traffic control devices is the criteria used by various road departments to determine whether a traffic control device is needed at an intersection or on/along any street, road, or highway. However, just because the warrant’s criteria is met does not require any municipality, county, state, or federal transportation department to add a sign or signal.

Warrant Criteria

Some of the criteria for a warrant for signs are as follows:

  1. Fulfillment of something considered necessary, such as accident reduction
  2. A sign or signal that needs to attract attention, such as a One Way sign
  3. Gives a driver a clear direction as to where they need to go, such as a directional sign
  4. Signs that “lay down the law” such as “Fines Double in Construction Zones”
  5. Signs that let you know something is about to change, such as “Road Closed in 1 Mile”

Traffic Signal Warrants

Traffic Signals have warrants as well, such as the following:

  1. How many vehicles go through an intersection daily
  2. What times the traffic through a given intersection is heaviest
  3. What kind of foot traffic crosses at any given point or intersection
  4. How many crashes have occurred at an intersection
  5. Or any combination of the above factors

Criteria for Stop Signs

Stop Signs have their own criteria:

  1. Which street, out of a possible 2 or more, has heavier traffic
  2. Does traffic from a side street enter a highway, road, or street
  3. Are there other traffic signs or signals in the area. One unmarked intersection in an area where there are all marked intersections may have more accidents when the others are all marked
  4. Restricted views
  5. One street, road, or highway that has a higher speed than the other
  6. How many crashes have occurred at an intersection
  7. Speed control; a stop sign may act similar to a speed bump, and is likely less costly to install

It may also be decided that a stop sign is not needed, but that a Yield sign would be sufficient in some circumstances.

Other Signs with Warrants

There are several warrants for other types of signs such as warning signs that might include a sign that warns of a sharp corner ahead, a school zone, road construction areas, crosswalk or railroad signs, addition or subtraction of traffic lanes, no shoulder signs for roads that drop off sharply on the sides, and many more.

Other regulatory signs such as speed limit signs, parking signs, slow children signs, reduced speed signs, and the like, are also required to have warrants in many municipalities in order to be placed.

Ultimately, smooth traffic flow and safety are the goal of traffic signal warrants. These are typically determined by local traffic engineers who are employed by the city, county, state, or federal highway and street departments, and enforced by local law enforcement.

If you’re interested to get your very own traffic sign, get here.


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Barry K. Brown

Barry Brown has been in the Sign, Banner, Decal and Display Business for over 20 years. It isn't what he thought he'd do with his life, but he says he knows too much now to do anything else!

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