Over use of stop signs

Use of Stop signs is recommended for specific situations primarily involving high speeds, high traffic volumes, restricted views, and crash history.

In addition, the MUTCD discusses a few situations where Stop signs should not be used.  

What is MUTCD?

The MUTCD also advises that less restrictive measures of traffic control be considered where a full stop is not required at all times.

MUTCD describe Yield signs along with applications and placement of these signs. This description includes locations and situations where Yield signs can be effectively installed.

Primary factors to be considered when judging the appropriateness of Yield sign usage include traffic volumes, volume split, speeds, visibility, and crash history. R1-2 Visibility and approach speed are important factors when selecting the most appropriate control for a given intersection.

The MUTCD advocates the use of Stop signs only when warranted. In many situations with lower volume roads and streets, Yield signs or no control may be the most appropriate choice.

Overuse of Stop signs will result in additional delay for drivers, disruption in traffic flow and/or traffic congstion, increased fuel consumption and consequent noise, dust and emissions pollution, and possible eventual noncompliance by motorists due to the frustration endured by precieved redundant stopping and starting.

Some studies have found that Stop sign installation will not effectively reduce, and will actually increase speeds and therefore, should not be used for this purpose.

Overuse of Stop signs will have a net effect of drivers beginning to disregard them and resultantly, other traffic rules.

If the complaint or concern is for drivers not stopping at stops, it is likely that the sign has been used improperly.  

Alternate methods of controlling speeds, such as traffic calming, are also described in the MUTCD manual.

Many studies have been made of the effects of Stop versus Yield control at intersections.

One such reference is Guidelines for Converting Stop to Yield Control at Intersections, National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Report 320, published in October 1989.

The City of Winnipeg currently neglects to apply sound engineering principles to stop/yield signage use.  Intersections are exclusively controlled by stop or 4 way stop, in many cases where yields may more appropriate and productive at traffic calming.

Enforcement is then often utilised, instead of proper signage use (engineering).


 While the City of Winnipeg echos

much of the concepts as described above,

it neglects to consider yield and 4 way yields.

This is from the City of Winnipeg web site, October 16th, 2015...

Stop Signs

4-Way stop signs

All-Way stop control is NOT a speed control device.

Many requests received for additional stop signs are related to concerns of speeding. Studies show that stop signs only influence motorists to slow down within approximately 30 metres before and after the stop sign and that speeds actually increase at mid-block locations to the original speeds and often higher as drivers attempt to make up for lost time.

All-Way stop control does not reduce traffic volumes.

Before and after studies show that Stop signs have little or no impact on vehicle volumes.

Unwarranted stop signs result in unacceptable levels of Stop sign non-compliance and breeds disrespect for ALL traffic signs.

Stop sign compliance studies show that when all-way stop control was installed but not warranted, an average of 68% to 95% of the motorists approaching the intersection do not come to a complete stop. In general, if people see no reason for the stop sign, they disrespect the sign. Excessive unwarranted stop sign usage breeds disrespect for all traffic signs. Inappropriate signs become part of the landscape and their effectiveness is reduced.

All-way stop control does not always increase safety/reduce collisions at an intersection.

Disregard and disrespect of stop signs by the motorist may decrease safety. Pedestrians may be lured into a false sense of security by the presence of a stop sign by assuming that motorists will stop. Young children who are brought up to believe that people obey laws are the most vulnerable victims. Other motorists may also assume a motorist will stop because of the presence of the sign and enter the intersection when it is not safe to do so, thus resulting in the potential for a collision.

All-way stop control may reduce the number of right-angle and left with opposing through collisions. However, there is a potential increase in the number of rear-end and fixed object collisions, especially if there is a high volume of traffic being required to stop unnecessarily.

Unwarranted Stop signs result in noise and air pollution and fuel consumption.

Residents living nearest the intersection experience an increase in traffic noise resulting from vehicles stopping and accelerating (tire noise and engine noise). Stopping and accelerating also increases environmental emissions and fuel consumption.

Proper use of All-Way Stop Control:

The purpose of all-way stop control (3-way or 4-way) is to assign right-of-way to traffic approaching an intersection. Stop signs should only be used where an engineering analysis indicates the usage of stop signs is warranted. The following aspects are considered:

  • Traffic Volume – All-way stop control may be recommended where there are large traffic volumes (vehicles and pedestrians) approaching the intersection from all directions and the volume of traffic approaching from each street is close to being equal.
  • Collision History – All-way stop control may be recommended where there is a high incidence of right angle and/or left with opposing through collisions.

 We advocate for the appropriate utilisation of

stop and 4way stop signs,

removing where not compliant

with sound engineering principles,

or conversion to yield or 4 way yields.


It is ironic that there has been a move to introducing traffic circles and roundabouts to Winnipeg, which are, functionally similar and similarly effective at traffic calming as 4 way yields, but much more expensive to install. 


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