Morgan Pritchett
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How to Get a Stop Sign Put Up in Your Neighborhood

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Stop Sign Red Traffic Street Intersection
Photo: The News Wheel

With stay-at-home orders in full effect, you may be recognizing certain new or surprising things around your neighborhood, including speeding cars zooming down your street. As someone who frequently says, “There should totally be a green arrow here,” when trying to turn left at a difficult light, I’ve always wondered who decides where to put traffic lights and stop signs. Luckily for you, I did some research on this subject — specifically, how to get a stop sign put up in your neighborhood.

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Step 1: Gather evidence

To make your argument more convincing, one of the best things you can do to get a stop sign installed is to gather evidence that an intersection is particularly unsafe. You may be able to make a public information request from your local police department for a copy of vehicle accident reports at that spot for a specific amount of time. Once you’ve got your proof, the next step is getting some backers.

Step 2: Create a petition

Before you head to your local government building to rant to anyone who will listen, you’ll want to be organized and professional. Creating a petition with a straightforward “mission statement” will make your case more digestible for busy government officials. You can go the old-fashioned route and travel door-to-door to get signatures or you can utilize an online petition website to create your grievance and then post on social media for your neighbors to digitally sign. You’ll want to be sure you’re only getting signatures from local residents.  

Stop Sign
Photo: Pexels

Step 3: Contact your city councilperson

For most states, the first person you’ll be able to contact for a matter like this is a city councilperson. (Here’s hoping you have a Leslie Knope and not a Jeremy Jamm.) They should be aware of the neighborhood and will be more likely to understand your concern. Don’t be demanding or rude when proposing your idea; speak slowly and remain calm so you can effectively get your point across. It’s a good idea to rehearse what you’re planning on saying so you don’t fumble with your words. In some areas, your best method of getting a stop sign installed is to go directly to the mayor. In this case, nothing really changes, but you may want to dress up for the occasion.

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Step 4: Be patient

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and most road construction takes forever to complete. If your suggestion is accepted, it will need to get approved by a chain of command and that could take quite a while. You’ll just need to trust the process and hope that the jobs ahead of your new stop sign are done quickly. If you wait for more than six months, you may want to check on the status of the stop sign to ensure it didn’t get lost somewhere along the line.

Creating a safer environment for you and your neighbors is always a commendable act. If your petition is denied, try again when a new government official is elected. And while you’re waiting for that to happen, stay motivated by watching the “Door to Door” episode of Modern Family where Claire is doing exactly what you are — saving lives, one intersection at a time.