Traffic Operations FAQs

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For your convenience, we've compiled our most frequently asked questions below.
(Click your question to jump right to the answer and description.)

Why are there not stop signs at all intersections?
A stop sign is one of our most valuable and effective control devices when used at the right place and under the right conditions. It is intended to help drivers and pedestrians at an intersection decide who has the right-of-way.

One common misuse of stop signs is to arbitrarily interrupt through traffic, either by causing it to stop, or by causing such an inconvenience as to force the traffic to use other routes. Where stop signs are installed as "nuisances" or "speed breakers," there is high incidence of intentional violation. In those 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, it should not be used as a speed control device.

A school crossing may look dangerous for children to use, causing parents to demand a stop sign to halt traffic. Now a vehicle, which had been a problem for three seconds while approaching and passing the intersection, becomes a problem for much longer period. A situation of indecision is created as to when to cross as a pedestrian or when to start as a motorist. Normal gaps in traffic through which crossings could be made safely no longer exist. An intersection that previously was not busy now looks like a major intersection. It really isn't; is just looks like it. It doesn't even look safer and it usually isn't.

Most drivers are reasonable and prudent with no intention of maliciously violating traffic regulations; however, when an unreasonable restriction is imposed, it may result in flagrant violations. In such cases, the stop sign can create a false sense of security in a pedestrian and an attitude of contempt in a motorist. These two attitudes can and often do conflict with tragic results.

Well-developed, nationally recognized guidelines help to indicate when such controls become necessary. These guidelines taken into consideration, among other things the probability of vehicles arriving at an intersection at the same time, the length of time traffic must wait to enter, and the availability of safe crossing opportunities. 

Why can't we put a"Children at Play" sign on our road?
An often-heard neighborhood request concerns the posting of generalized warning signs with "SLOW CHILDREN AT PLAY" or other similar messages. Parental concern for the safety of children in the street near home, and a misplaced but widespread public faith in traffic signs to provide protection often prompt these requests.

Although some municipalities have posted such signs widely in residential areas, no factual evidence has been presented to document their success in reducing pedestrian accidents, operating speeds or legal liability. Studies have shown that many types of signs attempting to warn of normal conditions in residential areas have failed to achieve the desired safety benefits. If signs encourage parents and children to believe they have an added degree of protection, which the signs do not and cannot provide, a great disservice results. Because of these serious considerations, Marion County and the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) published by the U.S. Department of Transportation-Federal Highway Administration, does not recognize use of "Children at Play" signs. The law requires that all signs used on streets and highways must comply with the standards contained in the MUTCD. Specific warnings for schools are available for use where clearly justified. Children should not be encouraged to play within the street travel ways. The sign has long been rejected since it is a direct and open suggestion that this behavior is acceptable.

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Can we get speed humps for our neighborhood?
The current policy is that the County does not allow speed humps on County maintained roads or public rights-of-way.

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How is the placement of traffic signals determined?
Traffic signals don't always prevent accidents. Signals are not always an asset to traffic control. In fact, the installation of an unwarranted traffic signal could result in an increase in the total number of accidents and the number of severe injury accidents for an intersection. Usually, in such instances, right angle collisions would be reduced by the traffic signals, but the total number of collisions, especially the rear-end type would increase.

There are times when the installation of signals result in an increase in pedestrian accidents. Many pedestrians feel secure with a painted crosswalk and a red light between them and an approaching vehicle. The motorist, on the other hand, is not always so quick to recognize these "barriers."
When can a traffic signal be an asset instead of a liability to safety? In order to answer this, traffic engineers have to ask and answer a series of questions:
- Are there so many cars on both streets that signal controls are necessary to clear up the confusion or relieve the congestion?
- Is the traffic on the main street so heavy that drivers on the side street will try to cross when it is unsafe?
- Are there so many pedestrians trying to cross a busy main street that confusing, congested or hazardous conditions result?
- Are there so many school children trying to cross the street at the same time that they need special controls for their protection?
- If so, is a traffic signal the best solution?
- Are signals at this location going to help drivers maintain a uniform pace along the route without stopping unnecessarily?
- Does the collision history indicate that signal controls will reduce the probability of collisions?
- Do two arterials intersect at this location and will a signal help improve the flow of traffic?

To aid them in answering these questions, engineers compare the existing conditions against nationally accepted minimum guidelines. Experienced traffic engineers established these guidelines (Warrants) from many observations at intersections throughout the country. Where the guidelines were met, the signals generally were operating effectively with good public compliance. Where the guidelines were not met, public compliance was reduced, and additional hazards resulted.

A traffic signal that decreases accidents and improves the flow of traffic is an asset to any community. On the other hand, an ill-advised or poorly designed signal can be a source of danger and annoyance to all that use the intersection; pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers alike.

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I am having problems with vehicles running off the road and hitting my fence and/or bushes. Can I have a guardrail installed?
In most cases, the requests do not fit the criteria for the installation of a guardrail system. The county has a long-standing policy that guardrails are not installed to protect fences or bushes.

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How do I get a Drive Safely memorial sign installed?
As a public service and to increase awareness of highway safety, the Marion County Traffic Operations Section will fabricate and install Highway Safety Memorial Markers within the County rights of way to:
- Memorialize people who have died as a result of a vehicle-related crash.
- Remind motorists to protect human life by driving safely.

Requests for a permit for Highway Safety Memorial Markers within the County roadway rights of way are to be submitted to the Traffic Division of the Office of the County Engineer. Requests for a sign may be made by immediate family members or friends, with requests from friends requiring the approval of the deceased's immediate family. A notation of how the name should appear on the marker, contact information for the immediate family and a copy of the collision report should be included with the permit application. The Sign Division will place the marker in a safe proximity to the site of the incident. Standardized signs are installed with: "Drive Safely," "In Memory" and the Deceased Name. Please note that crosses or other types of memorials are not permitted to be erected in the county rights of way.

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Can I have the Traffic Division manufacture a sign for me?
No, we do not manufacture and sell signs to the public. Check the yellow pages for private companies that provide this service.

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