2007-07-07 / News

No playing in the street

By Scott Rawdon

BUCKEYE LAKE- "Children Playing" traffic signs are not recommended by the Ohio Department of Transportation, even though they're popular.

Village of Buckeye Lake resident Marianne Perine sent a letter to the village council asking council members to consider placing a "Children Playing" sign on Highland Ave. She said a child on a bicycle, about fiveyears old, was struck by a vehicle driven by a person whose license was under suspension, after that person ran a stop sign--last week's Buckeye Lake Police report mistakenly referred the cyclist as an adult.

The child's parents transported him to Licking Memorial Hospital with a head injury.

In her letter, Perine asked of the village was ignoring children's needs by not having "Children Playing" signs posted on village streets. "There are no 'Children Playing' signs and the speed limit is 20 miles per hour," she said in her letter. "My observation is that we as a community need to look at this problem and finally do something about it." Perine wants to post the "Children Playing" signs around the village and reduce the speed limit even further on neighborhood streets that are close to SR 79.

Buckeye Lake Service Director Tim Matheny said he sympathized with Perine's concerns, but said "Children Playing" signs are no longer recommended by ODOT because they encourage children to play in the street.

Lindsay Komlanc, ODOT communications representative, agreed. Komlanc said that while ODOT doesn't have jurisdiction over local routes, the department follows the Ohio Manual Of Uniform Traffic Control Devices, which is based on the Federal Manual. There is no standard sign for "Children at Play" in the Ohio Manual Of Uniform Traffic Control Devices and ODOT does not provide this type of signing on any of its routes, nor does ODOT recommend it when asked for guidance by local jurisdictions.

Komlanc said that ODOT briefly address it in the ODOT Traffic Engineering Manual because the signs are popular with the public. Although popular, according to ODOT the signs may do more harm than good. They haven't been shown to reduce speeds in residential areas, but they may provide children and pedestrians with a false sense of security. The signs may encourage parents to allow their children to play on or near the street.

According to ODOT's Traffic Engineering Manual, "Children should not be encouraged to play in the roadway. If signs encourage parents and children to believe they have an added degree of protection, which the signs do not and cannot provide, this can result in a disservice. This type of signing has long been rejected since it is a direct and open suggestion that this behavior is acceptable."

The manual continues, "For these reasons, ODOT does not provide 'Children at Play' or similar signing. This type of signing is not recommended for use on any roadway at any given time."

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