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Stop Signs
It is not uncommon for the City to receive requests to install stop signs as a way to reduce speeding. However, the purpose of stop signs is to assign right-of-way at an intersection, not to control speeding. Research also shows that other measures are often more effective than adding more stop signs. Public understanding of the function of stop signs is one of the most critical elements in reducing speeding and traffic accidents. The following information explains our policies and the correct use of stop signs.

Installation Policies

The California Manual On Uniform Traffic Control Devices dictates the size, shape and color of all traffic signs. This manual has guidelines for installing signs in an attempt to create uniformity from state to state and the City complies with these guidelines. These guidelines identify specific conditions that must be present at the intersection before these traffic control devices may be installed. For stop signs, these conditions relate to traffic and pedestrian volumes, accident history, delay, and traffic speeds. The City will install stop signs at an intersection only after a careful engineering evaluation of the existing conditions indicates that their installation is appropriate.

Alternatives

If the concern is speeding, it is better to address it with focused enforcement, speed humps, or perhaps a neighborhood speed watch program. The Sheriff’s Teen Traffic Offender Program (STTOP) is also a very effective way of educating young drivers and changing their driving behavior.

If the concern is intersection safety, our experience has shown that simply restriping or improving intersection visibility by prohibiting parking near the intersection can be more effective in improving safety. This often reduces the need to install more restrictive intersection controls.

This is important because installation of unwarranted stop signs breeds disrespect by motorists and reduces their effectiveness. In fact, unwarranted stop signs could actually cause increased speeds by impatient motorists that view the additional delay as lost time to be made up between stop signs. More importantly, drivers would eventually realize that there is rarely any real need to stop at an unwarranted stop sign, after which they would stop expecting conflicting traffic, stop looking for conflicting traffic, and roll through the intersection at higher and higher speeds. Efforts by the Sheriff’s Department to “force” compliance would be met with understandable outrage – enforcement can be truly effective only when applied to traffic controls that are understood and supported by the majority of drivers.