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A Portable Stop Sign Helps Protect Schools and Neighborhoods

A portable stop sign is an important part of any public safety department’s toolkit.  The MUTCD establishes rules for portable stop signs that are in line with its regulations covering permanent signage.  Some of the more important mandates include the following:

·       A portable stop sign should only be used in emergency situations, such as during a blackout that causes traffic signals to not function, or in areas where their use makes sense, such as school zones.

·       If used during evening hours, officials should make reasonable efforts to increase the visibility of a portable stop sign.

·       A portable stop sign should not be used on a major street without authorization from traffic engineers.

·       Portable stop signs should never be used as a speed control measure.

·       A portable stop sign should never take the place of a yield sign. Traffic engineers should determine which type of signage is best for a particular location.

·       A portable stop sign can be used as an interim measure prior to the installation of permanent signage or a traffic control signal.

Portable Stop Signs and State Laws

While the MUTCD is the primary authority for stop sign usage, state laws also govern how they may be used.  Specifically, state rules forbid using a portable stop sign in any of the following three locations:

1.     On an expressway through-road

2.     At an intersection with a functioning traffic control signal

3.     On the major street of an intersection, except where justified by traffic engineering studies


Safeguarding the public includes being prepared for unusual conditions.  Electrical outages, major storms, civil unrest, and other emergency situations occur only rarely in most locations.  When these events do happen, however, a portable stop sign can literally be a lifesaver.  Law enforcement agencies should be prepared to use these products in accord with the guidelines outlined in this post.