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Chapter 17

Stop Sign
Observation Studies

Studies of stop sign observance on the part of drivers are made to:

  • Determine the need for keeping or replacing stop signs.
  • Replacing stop signs with yield signs.
  • Compare driver obedience of stop signs to accident frequency.
  • Determine how to improve driver obedience. (This may be selective enforcement, education, relocation of the signs, fresh painting or reflectorizing.)
  • Conducting Studies

    The key ingredients in conducting stop sign observance studies are planning and recording.


    Unless traffic is very heavy, one person can record data for this study at each sign.

    The MP should not be in uniform. MP patrols should avoid the area during the time of the study.

    All high accident frequency locations should be studied. At least 25 other intersections with stop signs should also be studied for comparison purposes.

    The study at each stop sign should last one hour or more and include at least 50 vehicles for each approach to the intersection.


    The field sheet below is used to record data during the study. The observer makes an appropriate entry as each vehicle enters the intersection.

    Data from the field sheets is then transferred to a summary sheet (sample below). In analyzing observance, the following percentages of full stops are used:

    Excellent observance

    75% or more

    Good observance

    51% to 74%

    Problem intersection

    50% or less


    The results of this study may be used to determine the following:

  • Need to improve stop sign observance through a special enforcement program. (Facts from this study can be used to justify this need to the public.)
  • Need to remove unnecessary stop signs at intersections where a combination of the following factors exists:
    • View at the intersection is unobstructed.
    • Vehicular conflicts at the intersection are not a problem.
    • The accident rate at the location is not a factor.

    Need to make stop signs more visible. Lack of visibility may often be the reason for nonobservance. Some factors in this are:

    • Hourly or seasonal variations (weather, leaves, branches on trees, parked cars, etc.)
    • On wide streets, drivers turning left may not obey stop signs on the right side of the road. This can be corrected by putting another sign on the left side of the road, or overhead flashing red lights.
    • A stop line painted on the pavement may also help motorists observe stop signs.

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