The Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) is advising local jurisdictions on its website this week that erecting stop signs may not be the best way to prevent crashes at rural intersections.
IDOT cites an Iowa State University study conducted in 2005 that found "no statistical difference in the safety performance of ultra-low-volume stop-controlled and uncontrolled intersections," suggesting that rural roads with stop signs do not have any significant safety advantages, the researchers said.
There has been a recent increase in serious traffic crashes at rural intersections. These intersections, located on gravel roads that are not well-traveled, can be dangerous for drivers.
Even though using yield or stop signs seems like the most obvious solution, these signs may not be the best fix for the problem, IDOT said. Most of the motorists on rural roads are local residents who travel the same route at least once a week. Because they know the yield-sign, stop-sign and no-sign intersections so well, regulating traffic too much can make motorists ignore signs when it is most important, IDOT said, adding that too many unnecessary signs can give drivers a false sense of security.