Noncompliance – Unintended Consequence of Unnecessary Traffic Laws

Written by Gregory Monte.

Last week I wrote a post called Human Nature and Speed Limits.  There I discussed the fact that enforcement of traffic laws deemed unnecessary by a large portion of motorists has two unfortunate consequences:

  • Noncompliance
  • Contempt for law enforcement

Here was my conclusion:

Governmental entities can pass all of the laws that they want – but voluntary compliance with these laws is another matter entirely.  While certain laws are almost universally accepted (you can’t steal, murder, rape, etc.) many others are not (use of marijuana, paying taxes on cash receipts, jaywalking, reasonable speeding, etc.).  In the latter instances, people use their own judgement and decide accordingly.  If caught, they know that they have broken a law set by the state, but often resent the punishment extracted.”

Example: Unnecessary Stop Signs

The excessive use of stop signs is a perfect example of this.  Too often, local communities install stop signs for the wrong reasons.  If you drive through a town and every other intersection has a 4-way stop sign, you can bet that they were put there for the purpose of slowing down traffic rather than for legitimate traffic control.

The Federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control (MUTCD) is very clear on this point.  Section 2B.04.05 states: “YIELD or STOP signs should not be used for speed control.

A brochure published by the city of Nacogdoches, TX also makes this point very clearly:

“Overuse of stop signs reduces their effectiveness because drivers tend to speed up between stop sign controlled intersections rather than slow down … that can turn a quiet neighborhood into a race track.”

“Stop compliance is poor at unwarranted multi-way stop signs. Studies have determined that drivers see little reason to stop and yield the right-of-way when there is no traffic on the minor street. Unwarranted stop signs foster disrespect and disregard of the law.”

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