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Children at play
When it comes to signs about children playing, MnDOT’s advice is similar: “Watch for Children” and similar warnings should be removed because they have no effect on reducing travel speeds or improving safety. Citing a Wisconsin report, the Minnesota handbook said that the children-at-play signs give a false sense of security to parents and children that may increase risk, and “do not give clear and enforceable guidance to drivers.”
Dakota County traffic engineer Kristi Sebastian said children-at-play signs tend to be located more on city streets than on county or state roads. She said Dakota County does not use the signs, but has a few places where county roads are near playgrounds. In those cases, the county uses the playground warning sign with two children on a teeter-totter.
“We’re not going to remove those,” Sebastian said. “But we do have a practice to remove deer-crossing signs over time.”
Signs that work
Miner said Carver County’s new policy also will lead to removal of signs such as “Stop Ahead” and “Signal Ahead” that warn drivers about an upcoming intersections that they can already see clearly.
Some warning signs are proven to be effective, she said, and will continue to be used. Most of them caution about curves ahead, sometimes with recommended speeds, and depict a curving arrow, chevron, or squiggly lines to show how the road will turn.
Carver County did a special study on its curve signs, and determined that about 7 percent of them were not needed and could be removed without compromising safety, Miner said. Since each sign costs about $200 and lasts for 15 years, the county will save a modest amount of money by not replacing them.
But Miner said budget savings is only an incidental benefit, and the main reason for removing signs is safety. “We need to be sure that signs that are out there and that we do need aren’t being overridden by the signs that we don’t need,” she said.
Tom Meersman • 612-673-7388