Why can't we have 4-way stop signs?

"Many people believe that installing STOP signs on all approaches to an intersection will result in fewer accidents. This is not always the case, however."

Although the accident severity may be lessened, drivers are penalized by the additional delay and higher vehicle operating costs (fuel, brakes, etc.). There is no real evidence to indicate that STOP signs decrease the speed of traffic. Impatient drivers view the additional delay caused by unwarranted STOP signs as "lost time" to be made up by driving at higher speeds between STOP signs. Unwarranted STOP signs breed disrespect by motorist who tend to ignore them or slow down without stopping. This can sometimes lead to tragic consequences.

State Law requires the installation of all traffic control devices, including STOP signs to meet State standards adopted by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (LADOTD). Louisiana Statutes, Section 235 of Act 310 of the 1962 Legislature, amended by Act 182 Section 1 of the 1968 Legislature states that the Department of Transportation and Development "shall adopt a manual and specifications for a uniform system of traffic control devices consistent with the provisions of Title 32, Chapter 1 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes, for use upon highways within the state" The statutes also state: "All official traffic control signals or other traffic control devices purchased and installed in this state by an public body or official shall conform with the manual and specifications published by the Department of Transportation and Development"

The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) published by the U.S. Department of Transportation is the national standard for Traffic Control Devices. The LADOTD has adopted the MUTCD as the State standard.

The installation of a multiway STOP condition must first meet the warrants as set forth in the MUTCD. Any of the following conditions may warrant a STOP sign installation (sec. 2B-4):

    1. Where traffic signals are warranted and urgently needed, the multiway STOP is an interim measure that can be installed quickly to control traffic while arrangements are being made for the signal installation.
    2. An accident problem, as indicated by five or more reported accidents of a type susceptible to correction by a multiway STOP installation in a 12-month period. Such accidents include right and left-turn collisions as well as right angle collisions.
    3. Minimum traffic volumes:
          (A) The total vehicular volume entering the intersection from all approaches must average at least 500 vehicles per hour for any 8 hours of an average day, and
          (B) The combined vehicular and pedestrian volume from the minor street or highway must average at least 200 units per hour for the same 8 hours, with an average delay to minor street vehicular traffic of at least 30 seconds per vehicle during the maximum hour, but
          (C) When the 85th-percentile approach speed of the major street traffic exceeds 40 miles per hour, the minimum vehicular volume warrant is 70 percent of the above requirements.

STOP signs should not be viewed as a cure-all for solving all safety problems but, when properly located, can be useful traffic control devices to enhance safety for all roadway users.

SOURCE: International Transportation Engineers, Florida Section, U.S. Department of Transportation, Monroe City Code, Louisiana Revised Statutes

Monroe Engineering Department

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