Stop and Yield Signs at Intersections

The City of North Liberty often receives requests for new stop or yield signs at intersections, which are helpful to clarify the right-of-way at an intersection. However, they are not warranted at every intersection, especially those with low traffic volumes. North Liberty uses logical, professional and nationally recognized standards standards when considering sign placement to ensure traffic-control consistency.

Intersection evaluations for signage control are based on volume of traffic, crash history, angle of the street approaches, and visibility and obstructions. Those evaluation criteria used by city staff are based on national standards found in the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices, or MUTCD, published by the Federal Highway Administration. Reasons that most cities use the MUTCD guidance for traffic control include:

  • Consistency in traffic control across the United State minimizes accidents caused by new or unfamiliar situations
  • Consistency in guidance takes most of the subjectivity out of controlling traffic, with more uniform, fair and objective decision making
  • Installing unwarranted stop signs leads to a general disregard for the signs and an increase in “roll-throughs,” which are unexpected and dangerous
  • Cities can be found by courts to have liability in the case of accidents caused by traffic control not consistent with MUTCD guidance
  • Financially, it is infeasible to install and maintain controls at large numbers of intersections

In North Liberty, drivers will generally find all streets that intersect the approved system of “major streets” are stop controlled. For example, streets that intersect with Penn Street, Front Street and Jones Boulevard have stop signs so traffic on those major streets has priority. Here is a map of the major street network.

major streets

There are simple standards for traffic movement at uncontrolled intersections (i.e., those without signage or signalization), the standard situation for low-volume intersections. They are:

  • The driver of a vehicle approaching an intersection must yield the right-of-way to any vehicle or pedestrian already in the intersection
  • When two vehicles approach an intersection from different streets or highways at approximately the same time, the right-of-way rule requires the driver of the vehicle on the left to yield the right-of-way to the vehicle on the right.

Traffic control is a well-established practice with national guidelines intended to be applied uniformly at the direction of local professionals. In North Liberty, the local professionals involved with intersection evaluations include the City Engineer, the Street Department Director, Police Department and other staff members as well as consultants from time to time as needed.

All requests for traffic control signs are given thorough consideration. If you believe that an intersection merits consideration for traffic control, you may contact Dean Wheatley, planning director, at (319) 626-5747 or at dwheatley@northlibertyiowa.org.