The City of Murray, Kentucky

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Q. Can stop signs be installed to control speeding?
A. Stop signs installed in the wrong places for the wrong purposes almost always create more problems than they solve. At the right place and under the right conditions, a stop sign tells motorists and the pedestrians who has the right-of-way. Federal rules and regulations - The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) - have established the standards used to determine when and where a stop sign should be used. These nationally recognized standards, or "Warrants", take into consideration, among other things, traffic speeds and volumes; sight distance, and the frequency of traffic gaps, which will allow safe motorist entry or pedestrian crossings. Many people request stop signs to be installed for the purpose of lowering speeds. However, the true purpose of a stop sign is solely to assign right-of-way at an intersection. Various research studies indicate that stop signs do not reduce the overall speed of traffic. As such, when stop signs are installed strictly for the purpose of slowing traffic, the speeds are reduced in the vicinity of the stop sign, but tend to be higher between the intersections. Also, the overuse of stop signs may cause general contempt for all traffic control devices, often with tragic consequences. The best way to keep motorist compliance high at stop signs, and to avoid the liability associated with the incorrect installation of stop signs, is to use the nationally accepted standards to determine when stop signs are to be installed.

Q. Can we have Children At Play Signs to slow down traffic?
A. An often heard neighborhood request concerns the posting of generalized warning signs with "CHILDREN AT PLAY", "SLOW CHILDREN" or other similar messages. Parental concern for the safety of children in the streets near homes and a misplaced, but wide-spread, public faith in ability of traffic signs to provide protection, often prompt these requests. At first consideration, it might seem that "CHILDREN AT PLAY" type signs would provide protection for youngsters playing in a neighborhood. However, studies have generally shown that many types of signs attempting to warn of normal conditions in residential areas have failed to achieve the desired safety benefits. Studies made in cities where such signs were widely posted in residential areas showed no evidence of having reduced pedestrian accidents, vehicular speeds, or legal liability. Children at Play signs have little effect on driver behavior, which is seldom the cause of accidents. An NCHRP study reported that nearly 80 percent of collisions including children resulted from an unsafe or illegal act by the child. The study concluded that no traffic control device could be expected to protect a child. The signs give parents and children a false sense of security by relying on the signs; parents might monitor their children less closely. Children might interpret the sign to mean they can play in the street. Thus, Children at Play signs can contribute to the very accidents parents seek to avoid.

Q. Can we have Deaf, Blind or Autistic Child Warning Signs on our street?
A. The city is reluctant to install these warning signs for the following reasons: A deaf, blind, or autistic child sign does not describe to the motorist where the child might be. Most streets within a residential neighborhood have children who react in the same way, and each driver must be aware of all children within a residential neighborhood. Signs such as these provide both children and parents with a false sense of security, and a feeling that these children are safe when playing on or near a street, when playing in the street is obviously an unsafe practice at any time. Many attempts to attract the driver's attention through the use of unique and unusual signs have been made. Some examples include children at play, domestic animal crossings, and some odd-value advisory safe speed signs. Usually these unique signs are installed as a result of emotional and political pressure. Unfortunately, the novelty effect soon wears off, the signs become just another part of the landscape, and the signs no longer attract the attention of motorists who regularly pass by them. Their use is discouraged because of both the lack of proven effectiveness and undesirable liability issues. In fact, federal standards (the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices) strongly discourage the use of such non-uniform signs.

Q. Can we get the speed limit lowered on our street to slow down traffic?
A. Some widely held misconceptions are that speed limit signs lower the speed of traffic, reduce accidents and increase safety. However, most drivers pay little attention to speed limit signs, and drive at a speed that they consider comfortable. A driver's speed is more influenced by the appearance of the roadway and the prevailing traffic conditions than by the posted speed limit. In addition, research studies show there is no direct relationship between posted speed limits and the frequency of accidents. However, posting appropriate speed limits establishes a steady flow of traffic, and simplifies the job of enforcement. Posted speed limits are usually based on either statute or upon a Traffic Engineering Survey. Kentucky Revised Statute establishes as 35 mph speed limit in business and residential areas. Speeds based on Traffic Engineering Surveys take into consideration the roadway conditions, accident records, and the speed of drivers among other criteria. Statutory speed limits are not always posted, but drivers are required to know to drive at a safe speed; this is referred to as the "Basic Speed Law" in the Uniform Vehicle Code and is also established under Kentucky Statute as it states that a driver shall not drive at a greater speed than is reasonable and prudent based upon the traffic, conditions and usage of the highway.

Q. Can we have a crosswalk placed on our street?
A. Crosswalks exist at all intersections where there are stop signs or traffic signals, unless signs prohibit pedestrian crossing. Some of these crosswalks are marked with painted lines, but most of them are not. Pedestrian crosswalk marking is a method of encouraging pedestrians to use a particular crossing. Such marked crossings may not be as safe as an unmarked crossing at the same location. Therefore, crosswalks should be marked only where necessary for the guidance and control of pedestrians, to direct them to the safest of several potential routes. The purpose of a "marked" crosswalk is to encourage pedestrians to use a particular crossing. Normally, crosswalks are "marked" at places where there is an abundance of pedestrian movement, at a signal, and where pedestrians cannot recognize a proper location to cross. However, if "marked" crosswalks are not frequently used by pedestrians, then drivers tend to forget that they exist. As a result, accidents can occur when pedestrians rely on crosswalks to provide them with a safe barrier from traffic. It is the Street Department's policy not to install "marked" crosswalks 'mid-block' (locations not controlled by traffic signals, stop signs, yield signs or between intersections), unless a Traffic Engineering Study has determined the crosswalk would promote pedestrian safety and identified a specific location along with any required safety enhancement features. As an added note.....National studies have shown that marked crosswalks actually increase the risk to pedestrians crossing the street. In these studies, it was found that pedestrians are given a false sense of security at "marked" crosswalks, and tend to blindly cross the street, trusting the crosswalk to keep them out of harm's way. As such, it is important that pedestrians remain attentive and cautious of on-coming vehicles on a roadway before crossing a street, regardless of the presence, or lack of, a crosswalk.

Q, How is the placement of a Traffic Signal Determined?
A. While all traffic signals currently in the City of Murray are the responsibility of the State Highway Department, residents often inquire about the installation of traffic signals. Prior to the installation of a signal, traffic engineers must conduct a study of an intersection to determine whether a traffic signal installation is justified. To conform to national standards, the signal must meet specific criteria found in the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices, published by the Federal Highway Administration. This justification study takes into account:

Traffic patterns can dramatically change in and around an intersection when a signal is installed. When evaluating a potential traffic signal location, full consideration of the benefits and disadvantages of signalization must be reviewed, as a poorly placed signal has the potential to be more dangerous that the situation it attempted to address.

Q. Who is responsible for mowing and maintaining the area between my property boundary line and the city street?
A. It is the responsibility of the property owner, lessee, or occupant of the property adjacent to the public right-of-way for the street. City Ordinances 93.30 through 93.32 address this issue. Ordinance 93.30 prohibits, "any growth of weeds, grass, or other rank vegetation to a greater height than ten inches, or average, or any accumulation of dead weeds, grass or brush." between the property line and the street.

Q. Who is responsible for removing snow and ice or other obstructions from the sidewalk adjacent to my property?
A. This is also addressed by City Ordinance and again the responsibility falls on the property owner or occupant. Ordinance 95.07 states, "Every person owning or acting as agent for or occupying any building or lot in the city, shall keep or cause the sidewalk adjacent to such building or lot to be kept open and free from ice, wood, dirt, filth, and other obstructions, barriers and impediments of every description."

Q. There is a tree in front of my house located within the right-of-way, who is responsible for it?
A. This is a good question. While we prefer that trees are not located within the right-of-way, we will not to remove them unless they pose a significant safety hazard to motorists and/or pedestrians, are dead or removal is in the public's general interest. In an effort to promote safety, we will trim any branches or limbs that restrict visibility or provide an obstruction to motorists and/or pedestrians if possible. We try to work with residents regarding this sensitive issue, but please keep in mind that our ultimate goal is the safety of the public at large. Since we are not a lawn care or tree service, our trimming will be functional, but it is doubtful that it will be appealing to the eye. We encourage residents who are sensitive to this issue to keep the tree trimmed so that it does not obstruct visibility or provide an obstruction and will provide those residents with the criteria that must be met upon request. Typically, limbs or branches should not restrict visibility of the right-of-way parallel to the street for a distance of 300 feet as viewed from 2.5 feet to 12 feet above ground level, should not extend over or into a roadway at a height of less than 14 feet or over or into a sidewalk at a height of less than 7 feet.

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