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Can You Put Up Your Own Traffic Signs?

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

We've all seen them attached to stop signs or lamp posts in residential neighborhoods: yellow "SLOW Children at Play" signs or the newer, red "Drive Like Your Kids Live Here" signs.

Do these signs make a difference? And is it legal to put up your own traffic-related signs?

An Effective Deterrent?

The first question is whether a "Children at Play" sign would be effective in slowing down drivers and preventing collisions with pedestrians and kids.

According to the numbers, such signs do nothing to alter driver behavior, and may place kids at an increased risk. Hillsborough County in Florida was more blunt in their traffic FAQ:

Hillsborough County does not install "Children at Play" signs on county maintained roads. "Children at Play" signs give parents and children a false sense of security because studies conducted in locations with "Children at Play" signs show no evidence of reducing vehicle-pedestrian collisions, or lowering vehicular speeds. The Federal Highway Administration has revised the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices to no longer include "Children at Play" signs which makes installation of such signs a violation of 23 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 655, Subpart F. Teaching children about the dangers of playing in or near roadways is the most effective way of protecting them from the dangers of vehicular traffic.

The city of Boca Raton is equally skeptical: "The City of Boca Raton has found that passive devices such as signs are not effective. Most drivers do not respond." So before you buy and display your own traffic sign, you may want to consider that the sign won't slow down any drivers.

There may be local city, county, or state ordinances that prohibit adding your own signs to public property or existing government structures like stop signs or lamp posts. However, while cities and communities may regulate the size of signs on private property, they generally cannot regulate signs based on content. So, you should be able to place your traffic advisory signs on your own property.

While we should all be careful drivers, and no one wants traffic accidents, installing our own advisory signs might not be the most effective or most legal way to go about it. Before doing anything, you may want to talk to an attorney, especially if a neighborhood accident has recent occurred.

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