Traffic Control Devices

Stop signs and traffic control signals are used to assign the right-of-way at intersections.

The decision to install either of these control devices requires a detailed review of traffic and pedestrian volumes, the direction of flow, vehicle operating speeds, collision history and other factors such as visibility and road geometry.

Each control device has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Municipalities must ensure that the proper device is used so that motorists recognize their need and that traffic can safely enter the intersection with minimal delay from all directions.

Traffic Control Signals

The purpose of a traffic control signal is to safely alternate the right-of-way between conflicting traffic movements at an intersection in an orderly and timely fashion.

On heavy traffic roadways, they allow motorists on the minor side streets to move safely through an intersection.

Before and after studies show that the installation of a traffic control signal can result in a marked decline in the number of broadside collisions while improving the overall efficiency of the intersection.

Do we really need a Traffic Control Signal?

It is a common misconception that a traffic control signal will lessen the "difficulties" experienced by some motorists or pedestrians at an intersection. Sometimes, there are so few people experiencing the problem that it is simply not practical to consider changes.

Traffic control signals can rarely be justified as a safety device alone since their installation does not necessarily guarantee a reduction in collisions. In fact, signals increase the frequency of certain accident types, particularly rear-end collisions.

Signals are not intended as a speed control device. In many cases, motorists and pedestrians quickly recognize unnecessary control devices which can increase driver frustration, disobedience of the signals and diversion of traffic to residential streets.

The benefits of signalization must outweigh the disadvantages before the installation will truly be in the interest of the motoring and tax-paying public.

Stop signs

Stop signs are installed at minor intersections when traffic volumes from all directions are not considered high or when the volumes on all approaches are balanced.

In addition to controlling the flow of traffic, stop signs provide a safe environment to enter an intersection when visibility is restricted.

Overuse of stop signs reduces their effectiveness and often creates other problems. When not justified, the signs are often ignored by drivers, improperly used, or contribute to erratic behaviour as drivers speed up between signs.

Traffic Control | Speed Control | Pedestrian Signals | Left Turns