The City occasionally receives requests to install signs warning drivers of the possible presence of children at play. Concerned citizens fail to realize that these signs are deceiving and ineffective. Drivers already expect the presence of children in residential areas, especially at certain times, and studies show that devices attempting to warn motorists of normal conditions or conditions that are not always present fail to achieve the desired safety benefits.
False Sense of Security
"Children at Play" signs also tend to create a false sense of security for parents and children who believe the signs provide an added degree of protection when motorists, particularly local ones, actually pay little attention to them. The use of “Children at Play” and similar signs such as “Slow” or “Slow - Entering Residential Area” has long been discouraged since these signs are a direct and open suggestion to small children that playing in or beside the roadway is acceptable.
Parents also seem to believe such signs may help reduce speeds. There is no evidence that these signs prevent accidents or reduce the speed of vehicles. If problems with speeding exist, stricter enforcement should be sought from the appropriate law enforcement authorities.
City Policy on "Children At Play" Signs
Children at Play and similar signs are ineffective and are not recognized by the State or the Federal Highway Administration as official traffic control devices and, therefore, are not installed by the City on public streets.
Addressing the Safety of Young Children
Unnecessary signs confuse and annoy drivers and foster a disrespect for all signs, but signs in accordance with the California Manual On Uniform Traffic Control Devices can and should be posted for school zones and school pedestrian crossings, as well as playgrounds and other recreational areas where there is a real need.
Most importantly, parents should teach children the dangers of playing in or near roadways and strongly discourage them from doing so. The City provides neighborhood parks where children can play safely with proper supervision. Safe playgrounds are also provided at many elementary school sites.