Transportation Education

Stop Signs vs. Speeding

When it comes to slowing down drivers on City streets and roadways, a common misconception is that stop signs are the answer. It's easy to think why a stop sign is a viable solution for speeders. In reality, however, stop signs often have the opposite effect when it comes to slowing down drivers.

The purpose of a stop sign is NOT to control vehicular speeds. A stop sign is used to assign the right of way at an intersection and to make sure that traffic flows smoothly and predictably. A stop sign is one of our most valuable and effective control devices when used at the right place and under the right conditions.

Several studies have shown that using stop signs to control speeding does not bring about the desired results and actually causes drivers to go faster between signs to make up for "lost" time. Often, drivers will accelerate rapidly after a stop, which can create unsafe road conditions. Research also shows that where stop signs are installed as “deterrents” or “speed breakers,” there are high incidences of intentional violations resulting in accidents.

Shanell Robinson

The stop sign versus speeding debate is a nationwide topic. See what other cities are saying about the use of stop signs as traffic calming devices. 

Lake Forest, Illinois: "Research indicates that stop signs are ineffective at controlling vehicular speeds as that is not their purpose."

Fort Collins, Colorado: "STOP signs are not effective for speed control."

River Falls, Wisconsin: "When not required to stop by a cross street traffic, only 5 to 20% of all drivers come to a complete stop, 40 to 60% will come to a rolling stop below 5 mph, and 20 to 40% will pass through at higher speeds."

Safety Harbor, Florida: "Numerous studies nationwide have shown that speeds within a block of the stop sign are largely unaffected by the stop."

Spokane, Washington: "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."

Portland, Oregon: "In fact, most drivers reach their top speed within 100 feet of a stop sign."