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Status Report, Vol. 43, No. 11 | December 27, 2008 Subscribe

'Stop ahead' road markings reduce crashes

Pavement markings that alert approaching drivers to stop signs at intersections reduce crashes and are inexpensive to install, says a recent report from the Federal Highway Administration. "Stop Ahead" wording on roadways reduces crashes by at least 15 percent at intersections.

The agency evaluated use of the markings at intersections in Maryland, Arkansas, and Minnesota. The number of crashes declined when markers were installed. These indicators were more effective at 3-legged intersections, where crashes went down 60 percent, than at 4-legged ones (down 23 percent). Intersections with all-way stops showed a 56 percent crash reduction, 4 times greater than at intersections with 1- or 2-way stops. The all-way stop intersections also showed a 42 percent decrease in injury crashes, 5 times greater than at 1- and 2-way intersections.

Even though intersections account for a small portion of the highway system, in 2007 there were about 2.4 million intersection-related crashes, representing 41 percent of all police-reported crashes. Stop signs are the primary form of traffic control at U.S. intersections. Most intersections without signals are on roads with low to moderate volume in rural and suburban areas that generally have higher-speed travel and less complicated traffic patterns than those in more developed areas. Approaching drivers may not expect or see stop signs at such intersections. In 2007, there were 561,000 police-reported crashes at intersections with stop signs, and about 2,800 of them were fatal.

The Federal Highway Administration estimates it costs $55,060 per crash at intersections without traffic lights. This includes medical expenses, emergency services, property damage, and lost productivity. The agency adds that Stop Ahead is well worth the cost of about $78 to $366 per approach.

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