Although a stop sign can be a valuable and effective traffic control tool in the right place under the right circumstances, they can also be ineffective and dangerous in the wrong location. A stop sign is intended to help drivers and pedestrians identify who has the right-of-way at an intersection. Although stop signs have often been installed to address nuisances or reduce speeds, they have not been shown to have any measurable effect. In fact they often reduce safety in areas where there is no warrant for the sign. Specific findings:
- In locations where vehicles do stop, the speed reduction is effective only in the immediate vicinity of the stop sign and frequently speeds are actually higher between intersections. For these reasons, stop signs should not be used as a speed control device.
- When an unreasonable restriction is imposed, it may result in flagrant violations. This may result in conflicting actions caused by increased intentional violations and a false sense of an increased level of safety in the area and at the intersection. This situation can create tragic results.
Interesting Statistics from Mn/DOT Research:
- The percentage of vehicles that make a full stop dropped from 47% in 1931 to 19% in 1981.
- The percentage of vehicles that make a "rolling stop" has increased from 42% to 65% in the same time period, while flagrant violations have increased from 11% to 16%.
Also, although a stop sign is fairly inexpensive to install, its total ongoing cost can be significant. A typical stop will cost the following per 1,000 vehicles: $18,000 in excess vehicle operation costs, 1400 hours of lost time, 8300 gallons of extra fuel, 8400 pounds of carbon monoxide emissions, 600 pounds of hydrocarbon emissions and 600 pounds of nitrogen oxide emissions.
For these reasons, the County will be very judicious in where stop signs are placed.