New, Safer Traffic Signs Fall Victim to Budget Cuts

Wednesday, August 31, 2011
(graphic: minimumreflectivity.org)
The Obama administration has decided to eliminate deadlines for replacing traffic signs in local communities, saying the mandates would have cost millions of dollars at a time when states, cities and counties are struggling to balance budgets.
 
Adopted during the George W. Bush presidency, the new road-sign standards weren’t scheduled to take effect until 2018. But the Department of Transportation decided to act now.
 
“A specific deadline for replacing street signs makes no sense and would have cost communities across America millions of dollars in unnecessary expenses,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement. “After speaking with local and state officials across the country, we are proposing to eliminate these burdensome regulations. It’s just plain common sense.”
 
The regulations included a new “retroreflectivity” standard, requiring communities to replace existing signs with ones that read better at night.
 
Safety advocates were upset at the news of the cancelled deadlines. They insist the new signs are necessary to save lives, because of the higher risks that come with traveling after dark. More than half of all traffic fatalities occur at nighttime, even though only 25% of all driving takes place then.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
 
New Road Signs Will Now Wait (by Michael Cooper, New York Times)
Nighttime Visibility (Federal Highway Administration)

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