Traffic & Safety
The Road Commission adheres to the regulations and guidelines provided by the Michigan Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MMUTCD) with a goal of providing safe and efficient movement of vehicle and pedestrian traffic on all county roads.
Traffic control devices include signs, pavement markings and traffic signals.
Traffic & Safety FAQs
Where and what type of mailbox can be installed in the right of way?
The location and construction of mailboxes shall conform to the rules and regulations of the U.S. Postal Service and the following Ottawa County Road Commission standards. These standards are based on guidelines established by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.
Mailboxes should be set back at a minimum of one foot from the edge of the shoulder, regardless of whether the shoulder is gravel or paved. Greater offset distances are encouraged so the mail carrier can move out of traffic. According to USPS standards, a mailbox must be installed so the bottom of the mailbox is between 41 inches and 45 inches above the road shoulder.
The following types of posts are acceptable for mailbox supports:
- 4" x 4" wooden posts embedded no more than two feet into the ground. Larger wooden posts (4" x 6" or 6" x 6") may be used only if the post is drilled through with an appropriate spade bit to create a breakaway post.
- One-inch- to two-inch-round diameter steel or aluminum pipe, or standard U-channel post embedded no more than two feet into the ground.
The Road Commission may consider accepting other support post types if a breakaway design can be demonstrated or the support has been approved by AASHTO.
Only mailboxes that have a Postmaster General’s (PMG) seal of approval shall be placed on acceptable supports. Custom-made mailboxes shall meet USPS size and construction standards, and shall be approved by the USPS.
The mailbox should be attached to the support post to prevent the box from separating from the post top if a vehicle strikes the installation. Additionally, no more than four mailboxes shall be mounted on an acceptable support structure unless the support structure and mailbox arrangement have been approved by AASHTO. Newspaper boxes may be mounted below the mailbox on the side of the mailbox support.
Mailboxes, attachments, or support systems not consistent with the OCRC's Mailbox Installation Policy shall be deemed an unauthorized encroachment, and shall be immediately removed by the owner upon written notification by the Road Commission. If the owner has not removed the mailbox, the Road Commission, in accordance with relevant provisions of Michigan law, including MCL 247.171 et. seq., , shall issue the owner a Removal Order, whereupon the owner will be granted 30 days to remove the unacceptable mailbox. Thereafter, the mailbox will be removed by the Road Commission at the owner’s expense.
How are speed limits determined and by whom?
Speed limits are established in accordance with the Michigan Vehicle Code and State Legislature.
Currently, regulatory speed limits are set by state statue at a maximum 55 mph on county roads or 25 mph for business and residential districts. These speed limits are generally not posted on county roads.
The primary basis for establishing a proper, realistic speed limit is the nationally recognized method of using the 85th percentile speed. This is the speed at or below which 85% of the traffic moves. Posting unrealistically low speed limits may create a false sense of security, and studies have shown that the driving environment, not the posted speed limit, is the main influence on motorists’ speeds.
Regulatory speed limits can be modified based on a unanimous recommendation from a traffic survey team consisting of representatives from the Michigan State Police, Road Commission, and local township.
The recommendation is based primarily on results of a traffic engineering study that includes the collection of speed data, review of the crash history, and roadway characteristics.
The State Police has to accept the recommendation of the survey team in order to establish a modified speed limit.
Can a Children at Play sign be placed on my street?
At first consideration, it might seem that a Children at Play sign would provide some safety for youngsters playing in a neighborhood. Unfortunately, this type of sign encourages parents to believe that children have an added degree of protection; which the signs do not and cannot provide.
Studies have shown that this type of sign provides no evidence of reducing pedestrian crashes or vehicles speeds. Obviously, children should not be encouraged to play in the roadway. The Children at Play sign is a direct and open suggestion that it is acceptable to do so.
Federal standards discourage the use of this sign and they are not even recognized in Michigan’s traffic sign manuals. As an alternative, the Road Commission strives to remove vision obstructions to provide a safe roadway for both pedestrians and motorists.
Can I place Handicap, Deaf, Blind, Special Needs Child, or Pedestrian Area warning signs on my street?
The use of Handicap, Deaf, Blind, Special Needs Child, or Pedestrian Area warning signs is limited to situations and locations meeting approval of the Ottawa County Road Commission.
Requests for such signs shall be made in writing and include a physician’s certification/letter indicating extent of handicap. The requesting party will also need to advise the Road Commission on an annual basis as to the continued need of these warning signs.
The number and location of these warning signs will be determined by the Road Commission and generally will be limited to the roadway serving the handicap person’s residence.
The installation cost will be the responsibility of the requesting resident and all costs to maintain sign(s) will be paid by the Road Commission.
Can a speed bump be placed on my street?
A speed bump is a bump of asphalt about a foot wide, 3 to 4 inches high, and placed laterally across the traveled portion of the road. However, the speed bump poses as an increased hazard to motorists, the cause of an undesirable increase in noise, and a real problem for snow removal.
The purpose of a speed bump is to make the ride over it uncomfortable for the driver, encouraging him/her to reduce their speed. With the various vehicle suspensions and wheel bases, the speed bump has shown an inability to successfully control speeds.
Speed bumps can cause maintenance problems to any vehicle and increase response time for emergency services. Because speed bumps have considerable potential for liability suits, Michigan has officially rejected them as a standard traffic control device on public streets.
The control of speeding in neighborhoods is a widespread concern which requires compliance by residents, patience and persistent effort by law enforcement – not speed bumps.
Will a stop sign slow down traffic on my street?
Stop signs installed at the wrong place for the wrong purpose usually create more problems than they solve. One common misuse of stop signs is to arbitrarily interrupt traffic, either by causing it to stop or by causing such an inconvenience that motorists are forced to use other routes.
Traffic studies indicate that there is a high incidence of intentional violations where stop signs are installed as “nuisances” or “speed breakers.” The studies also show that drivers increase their speeds between unwarranted stop signs to make up for the lost time. Based on these studies and the increased speeds of drivers on streets with unwarranted stop signs, the Michigan Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MMUTCD) clearly states that “Stop signs shall not be used for speed control.”
A stop sign placed at the right place and under the right conditions, tells drivers and pedestrians who has the right of way.
Can I get a Deer Crossing sign installed on my road?
Because deer crossing signs have shown to be of little or no value in reducing motor vehicle/deer crashes and the scattered nature of the problem, we do not inventory or install these signs nor do we allow the installation of these signs within the public right of way by others.
Can I get a 'Hidden Driveway' sign installed on my road?
The Road Commission does allow the installation of “HIDDEN DRIVE” signs if certain criteria are met for driveway location and sight distance. Also, the driveway must have been in existence prior to April 22, 1999 (sight distance for any driveway constructed after that date would have been addressed through the driveway permit process).
Unfortunately, area motorists tend to disrespect and ignore warning signs which pertain to activity which is sporadic over time. Because installation of “HIDDEN DRIVE” signs have limited benefit, the cost of the initial sign installation must be paid for by the requesting property owner. The Road Commission will be responsible for the cost to maintain the sign(s).