Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

How much does an additional stop sign cost the car owner?

The mayor of my small town has just proposed adding yet another stop sign in the belief that it will deter speeders.

I’m not so sure it slows down speeders, but even if it does, it comes at a price which should be considered.

Google led me to some old studies. I don’t want to reinvent the wheel. Can anyone here provide me with some up-to-date information regarding the cost (both dollars and to the environment) of extra fuel used, plus brakes and clutches worn out?

Also, is there any recent definitive information regarding a stop sign’s effect on speed? Are there any valid measurements of noise level increase near a stop sign?

--Bob–sitting in a small town cafe

My guess is that the more you like to speed, the more the additional stop sign costs you. Letting your car coast down to 20 mph and stopping wears out your brakes very little. Accelerating away gently wears out your engine and transmission very little.

However, for those who charge up to the stop sign at 50 mph and stop at the last second, and then do a jackrabbit start after they stop, it will be expensive.

I agree however that a stop signs should only be used to make intersections safe, not to create an artificial traffic jam. Ditto with traffic signals, they should be timed to facilitate the flow of traffic, not to tie it up.

there was an article on this website labeled traffic calming.

there are several alternate solutions to slowing traffic, as was pointed out in this article.

i will try to find it and repost. it was from several years ago.

The cost to a single owner is negligible. Pennies per month, maybe. The environmental effects from a single driver are also negligible. But these statements do not stop wicked statisticians from exaggerating an effect. They will estimate the cumulative values of all cars over a long time span and give us a total of thousands of gallons of extra fuel and millions of pounds of released CO2 over a period of xx years.

(Forgive this rant. I just finished reading an article in my local newspaper of the “savings” calculated by my power company by switching to LED street lights. They use these very same statistical tricks to spook the greenies.)

My biggest objection to gratuitous stop signs is the continued interruption of smooth traffic flow. The village of Rockville Centre, NY, recently decided it needed a traffic control device on virtual every corner. One could formerly cruise through at a sedate and steady 30 mph. Now it is a constant pattern of Go, Whoa! But no doubt the town councilmen are patting themselves on the back over improved safety. Sigh!

or this

Based solely on personal anecdotal evidence gained through living in a residential section of Ottawa, Ontario, I would say stop signs increase noise, not because the engines of the cars are roaring from sign to sign (though they are - I didn’t find that noise bothered anyone much) but the most noise came from the transit buses, as well as the police cars who often used their sirens to stop people who ran the stop signs.

I don’t necessarilly agree with this, but the argument “they” will use is that preventing one or two even minor accidents will result in savings for the public that will exceed whatever minor increases in fuel use, wear and tear, etc there are.

Agreed. One minor collision can result in over $1000 of repairs to each vehicle, which is much more than what extra would be used on fuel, wear, etc.

If you factor in the reduction in risk to pedestrians, the benefits far outweigh the costs - I would say one child’s life is far more important than mere pennies in expenses. Dramatic, I know, but the fact remains.

Each stop sign is the equivalent of 1000 extra miles on my car. Of course, if I’d stop smokin’ the tires when I take off the sign’s impact would be so small as to be unmeasurable.

Seriously, if you drive modestly the cost os negligable. If not, you’ll pay for your enthusiasm. But you wont’t be able to blame the poor stop sign.

I would get in touch with all residential abutters to the proposed stop sign. There is an SIGNIFICANT increase in noise typical due to the start/stop process(esp trucks/motorcycles) and instead of a white background noise of traffic going by.

On my former route to work they decided to add a stop sign on one of the rural roads where my speeds reached 60 MPH(well, I did, others were probably faster). The additional stop sign dropped my average about 1 mpg, which isn’t really much. I coast to a stop, roll on through, and accelerate back up to 60.

As a bicycle commuter, I hated it when stop signs were added to my route. They are a significant burden, especially at the bottom of grades. Everyone here can cope with the concept that stop signs are necessary only for careless people driving powerful vehicles. Yielding to the person on the right should suffice in a courteous, careful world.

If this is a residential street and speeding is a problem, then don’t be so quick to oppose it. When my son was six he was hit by a speeder on the street in front of our rural/suburban home, and you do not want that to happen.

If your state follows Federal Highway Administration guidelines, stop signs should not be used as a speed control device. Seriously.
on page 2B-8 it states: STOP signs should not be used for speed control.

Not that it doesn’t happen all the time, but it’s not supposed to. When looking this up (google for “stop signs as speed controls”) I also found a lot of web sites (many state DOT sites included) saying that they did not really work as speed controls anyway.

I think this is a very interesting subject. One sign may not affect the wear and gas on one car that much, but when you add up all the cars over the course of a day, it would be more significant. It would certainly increase noise and pollution in the general area of the sign.

One of my biggest pet peeves for years has been poor timing of traffic lights. I have many areas where I live with lots of traffic lights. In some cases you will routinely have to stop and go at 5-10 traffic lights over the course of a mile. It seems like a huge unnecessary waste of gas and wear on the car which could be solved by just adjusting the timing of the lights so they would at least allow a little better flow.

My late father was a traffic engineer and performed studies to answer questions like this one. I think the Federal Department of Transportation might have a study like this on file. It is also likely that some Civil Engineering graduate student wrote a thesis on this topic. Check the web sites of the best engineering schools. Do you know of any engineering consulting firms that specialize in civil and traffic engineering? PBS&J is one ( According to their web site, technical inquiries can be sent to

It is always a mistake to try to solve a management problem (poor enforcement) with a systematic solution. It never works. The only answer to a management problem is better management (enforcement).