Traffic Frequently Asked Questions
How do we get multi-way stop signs installed on our roadway?
In order to provide a sound basis for engineering judgment with respect to the need for installing stop signs on all approaches of the roadway, the Department conforms to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). This manual, prepared by a national joint committee on municipal, county, and state officials, contains the following conditions or warrants, which should be present before a traffic control device such as a multiway stop control is warranted.
- As an interim measure where a traffic control signal is warranted and urgently needed;
- There is evidence of a traffic accident problem indicated by the occurrence of five (5) or more reported accidents of a type susceptible to correction by the installation of a multiway stop within a 12-month period; or
- A significant and evenly distributed volume of vehicular and/or pedestrian traffic is present at the intersection.
It should be noted that "STOP" signs are used to assign right-of-way and are not intended to use just to slow down speeders. Installing stop signs at an unwarranted location can create a false sense of security to the pedestrians and drivers, whereas a disaster may be eminent resulting from a high number of stop sign violations at that location. Unwarranted signs can also increase the potential of rear-end type accidents. By adhering to the nationally adopted guidelines, we make sure that the stop signs throughout the County are meaningful and necessary but not just a sense of false security.
How can we have a "Children at Play" sign installed in our neighborhood to help protect our children?
Children should not be encouraged to play in or near the roadway. It is much more appropriate to educate children to respect a moving vehicle and how to be a safe pedestrian. The use of "Children at Play" sign does not provide an added degree of protection as it is originally intended.
This Department's longstanding policy is not to install "Children at Play" signs on County-maintained roadways as they tend to create a false sense of security for both parents and children. Studies have revealed that these signs when posted in residential areas show no evidence of having reduced pedestrian accidents or vehicle speeds. These signs failed to achieve the desired safety benefits. On the contrary, the use of such signs could be interpreted as an endorsement by the County of the use of streets as play areas, thus creating an even more hazardous condition. Also, Federal and State signing regulations do not allow us to use the "Children at Play" signs since they are not considered as accepted and standard traffic control devices. We are allowed to post signs for schools, playgrounds, parks and other recreational facilities.
Why can't we get a striped crosswalk since some people cross the roadway at this point?
Crosswalks are generally installed only at those locations where a significant number of pedestrians cross the street and where there is a potential for conflicts between vehicle and pedestrian movements. We do not and cannot install crosswalks at random locations.
Crosswalks are installed at a point where sight distances to the approaching vehicles can be maximized. As motorists typically do not expect pedestrians to be crossing at non-intersection locations, crosswalks are generally installed at intersections and not at mid-block locations.
It should be noted that crosswalks are intended to indicate to both pedestrians and motorists where pedestrians should cross the roadway, and they are intended to heighten motorists' awareness of a pedestrian crosspoint. Unwarranted and random installation of crosswalks can lead to pedestrians and motorists ignoring them, thus undermining the purpose of installing crosswalks which can lead to a disastrous situation. Also, recent national studies have found that a significant number of people that use a marked crosswalk do so rather blindly. Some pedestrians tend not to pay much attention being on a crosswalk, thinking that the crosswalk should give them the ultimate protection. That is why crosswalks are only installed at locations where they are clearly needed.
How do I get a street light repaired or replaced?
Once street lights are installed, they are maintained by the utility companies. As a result, burned-out or damaged street lights should be reported to the utility company serving the area. This is usually the same company serving your home with electricity.
Be prepared to provide specific information: (e.g. in front of ___________; across the street from ____________; wood or metal pole, overhead or below ground service, etc.). The utility companies prefer that residents report street light problems directly to their offices since residents are in a better position to provide necessary information. Click here to see a list of phone numbers. Most repairs are performed within 72 hours of notifying the utility company.
I live in a new development. When will the street lights be installed?
In new developments, lighting is one of the last features to be installed. Utilities companies wait until the streets and homes are nearly complete before they install the lights. They do this to minimize the possibility of damage to the light fixtures and cables by the heavy construction equipment. Consequently, the actual installation of lights in a new development depends primarily on the utility company's schedule.
How can I have new or improved lights installed on my street?
Requests for street lighting in developed areas of the County are investigated. Depending on the size of the area, it generally takes 30 to 60 days to perform a lighting needs study. If improvements are warranted due to documented safety problems (traffic accidents, pedestrian activity, etc.), the County bears the cost of such installations. Where there is no documented safety problem but street lighting improvements are warranted, the homeowners will be requested to pay the installation or conversion cost; the annual electrical energy and maintenance costs will be borne by the County. Once a lighting project is implemented it generally takes one to two years to complete.
Criminal activity is occurring at night on my street. Can you help me?
When lighting improvements are requested because of nighttime criminal activity, we will request the Prince George's County Police Department to review their records. If their records indicate a significant problem occurring during the hours of darkness and if they believe it could be reduced or eliminated with improved lighting, then lighting improvements will be considered. There is no cost to the homeowners when lighting is installed to correct a criminal problem.
People are running off the road and into my yard. Would a light help?
When lighting is requested because of nighttime traffic accidents, we will study the location to see if the area has a history of nighttime collisions; and, if additional traffic controls such as warning signs, reflectors, or street lights appear to be justified, they will be considered. We appreciate such problem locations being reported. There is no cost to the homeowners when lighting is installed to correct a traffic-related problem. How can I get one of those security lights like my neighbor has?
There are trees blocking the light near my house. Can they be trimmed?
Such problems can be reported to our Roadway Lighting Section at (301) 883-5650. The area will be investigated and any branches blocking the light from illuminating the roadway will be trimmed.
How can I get one of those security lights like my neighbor has?
The utility companies can sometimes provide lighting for security purposes. This is called dusk-to-dawn or private area lighting. Normally, they are installed only in areas with an above ground electrical distribution system. The fixture is similar to a street light; it is mounted on a wooden utility pole and directed over the homeowner's property. The monthly rental cost is included in the owner's electric bill. Requests for dusk-to-dawn or private area lighting must be made directly to the utility company. The telephone numbers are:
Request Private Area Light Service (800) 685-0123
Request Dusk-to-Dawn Service (301) 931-2809
Request Dusk-to-Dawn Service (301) 843-6142
The light in front of my house shines in my window. How can I have this corrected?
A light directly in front of a home (i.e. on the same side of the street) can usually be shaded. The utility company darkens the house side of the refractor or globe to blackout the annoying light. Generally, there is no cost for this service. If the annoying light fixture is across the street it cannot be shaded, as this would prevent the light from illuminating the roadway. Homeowners desiring a shade should call our Roadway Lighting Section at (301) 883-5650.
I live in a townhouse development and the utility company tells me that they are not responsible for my street lights. How can I have a light fixed?
Normally streets within townhouse developments are private and maintained by the homeowners association. This responsibility extends to the street lights. Consequently, concerns regarding street lights within townhouse developments should be reported to the homeowners association.