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Portland Bureau of Transportation

Phone: 503-823-5185

Fax: 503-823-7576

1120 SW Fifth Ave, Suite 800, Portland, OR 97204

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Stop Signs

The Portland Bureau of Transportation System Management encourages safe and calm travel on Portland streets. So when Portlander's call the Bureau about a traffic or safety problem, an investigation is conducted to determine the best solution -- such as a sign or signal.
The city installs stop signs where there might be a question about who should have the right-of-way to prevent crashes. However, stop signs placed at intersections where they're not needed could tempt drivers to run stop signs or cut through other neighborhood streets.
One problem often reported to the Bureau is speeding--so residents ask for a stop sign. Stop signs may often seem like a good solution to neighborhood speeding, but traffic studies and experience show that using stop signs to control speeding doesn't necessarily work. When stop signs are installed to slow down speeders, drivers may actually increase their speed between signs to compensate for the time they lost by stopping. Some drivers tend to accelerate rapidly after a stop, possibly creating an even more dangerous situation. In fact, most drivers reach their top speed within 100 feet of a stop sign.
So why not have a stop sign at every intersection? Too many stop signs could cause motorists to ignore the right-of-way rule or some drivers may simply choose to ignore the stop sign. More stop signs in a neighborhood can result in higher levels of pollution and more noise. In addition, providing stop signs at all intersections would be very expensive.
The Bureau considers where to place stop signs so they provide the best benefit for the neighborhood. Stop signs in one location could effect traffic on nearby streets. Drivers may seek new routes to avoid stop signs, which can lead to new traffic problems in adjacent neighborhoods. Also, putting a stop sign on one street could foster higher speeds on the intersecting streets.
The final decision to install a stop sign is made after traffic engineers at the City of Portland's Bureau of Transportation System Management consider the flow and volume of traffic, the configuration of the intersection and crash reports. If you believe your street might benefit from a stop sign, please review the following criteria before you contact the Bureau with your concerns.
The primary reason for stop signs in the City of Portland --
Stop signs are installed at intersections where drivers cannot safely apply the right-of-way rule, resulting in an increase in crashes.

Criteria for Two-Way Stop Signs --Two-way stop signs are used:
  • Where a street enters a Through street; or
  • Where a safe approach speed is less than 10 mph due to permanent visibility obstructions -- such as buildings, trees or shrubs; or
  • Where crash history indicates three or more reported crashes over the last three years, and the crashes could have been avoided by the use of a stop sign; or
  • Where circumstances and crash history indicate that observing the normal right-of-way rule could still be hazardous, resulting in crashes.
 Criteria for Four-Way or All-Way Stops:
In most cases, a two-way stop sign is sufficient to define who has the right-of-way. A four-way or all-way stop is considered only when an intersection with a two-way stop is the site of numerous crashes or traffic congestion problems. Four-way stop signs are used:
  • Where traffic signals are needed; four-way or all-way stops may be used as an interim measure; or
  • On local streets, where there has been five or more reported crashes in a two-year period. These crashes would likely have been prevented by an all-way stop; or
  • On through streets, where within a two-year period the intersection had at least 1.5 crashes per million vehicles entering the intersection, and the crashes would likely have been prevented by all-way stops; or
  • Where the number of vehicles entering an intersection averages at least 500 vehicles per hour for any eight hours of a typical day, and the combined vehicular and pedestrian volumes from the minor street averages at least 200 per hour for the same eight hours.

Right of Way Rule - The failure to yield the right of way at an uncontrolled intersection.
A person commits the offense of failure to yield the right of way at an uncontrolled intersection (an intersection without any traffic signs or signals) if the person is operating a vehicle that is approaching an uncontrolled intersection and the person does not look out for and give right of way to any driver on the right simultaneously approaching a given point, regardless of which driver first reaches and enters the intersection. (ORS 811.275)