Signs can provide important information that can improve road safety. By letting people know what to expect, there is a greater chance that they will react and behave appropriately. For example, giving motorists advance warning of an upcoming pedestrian crossing or that they are entering a traffic-calmed area will alert them to modify their speed. Sign use and movement should be done judiciously, as overuse breeds noncompliance and disrespect. Too many signs may also create visual clutter and signs can get lost.
Regulatory signs, such as STOP, YIELD, or turn restrictions require certain
driver actions and can be enforced. Warning signs can provide helpful
information, especially to motorists and pedestrians unfamiliar with
an area. Some examples of signs that affect pedestrians include pedestrian
warning signs, motorist warning signs, NO TURN ON RED signs, and guide
Advance pedestrian warning signs should be used where pedestrian crossings
may not be expected by motorists, especially if there are many motorists
who are unfamiliar with the area. A new fluorescent yellow/green color
is approved for pedestrian, bicycle, and school warning signs (Section
2A.11 of the MUTCD).2 This
bright color attracts the attention of drivers because it is unique.
All signs should be periodically checked to make sure that they are in
good condition, free from graffiti, reflective at night, and continue to
serve a purpose. In unusual cases, signs may be used to prohibit pedestrian
crossings at an undesirable location and re-route them to a safer crossing
location, or warn pedestrians of unexpected driver maneuvers. It is preferable
to create safe crossings where there are clear pedestrian destinations.
If unexpected driving maneuvers occur at what is an otherwise legal pedestrian
crossing, an evaluation should be done to find ways to remedy or prevent
the unsafe motorist maneuvers.