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Guidelines for Using a Portable Stop Sign

Posted by KenParrott | 09 September 2019

Using a portable stop sign is one way to deal with short-term contingencies like a power outage or roadway repairs.  The MUTCD establishes clear guidelines for using these products. This post will give a high-level introduction to this topic, but more detailed information is available at this website.


Modern traffic signaling devices offer high visibility in addition to many other benefits.  However, these capabilities depend upon reliable access to electrical power.  This can create significant problems during blackouts or other emergencies.  In such cases, authorities may use a portable stop sign in harmony with the following guidelines:

Use of the temporary signage should be restricted to the shortest possible time needed to ensure public safety.

When possible, the portable stop sign should be augmented with additional visibility enhancers, such as generator-powered flashing lights.

The portable stop sign should have minimal dimensions of 36” x 36” when facing multiple lanes.

A portable stop sign may be used to manage traffic in school zones.  In such cases, the mobile signage should be outfitted with wheels for easy mobility.

A portable stop sign should be mounted on a welded steel base with bracing rods used to stabilize the assembly.

When a portable stop sign is used, it should be placed directly in the path of oncoming traffic, and not an on roadsides as with permanent signage.

A portable stop sign should only be used when other traffic management measures, such as flag persons, mobile powered signage, and high-visibility barricades are either unavailable or impractical.

Local authorities should, from time to time, review their equipment and policies with an eye towards replacing the portable stop sign with a more effective stop-gap measure as soon as possible.

Emergency situations can arise at any time and from any number of causes.  When they occur, a portable stop sign is a valuable item to have on hand.  It can help to manage traffic flow and prevent accidents until normal conditions return.

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