Traffic & Safety

Michigan Public Act 300 of 1949 gives the Road Commission the oversight of the installation and maintenance of traffic control devices on all county roads.

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.

Understanding Traffic & Safety

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.

LOCATION

The roadside face of the mailbox shall be offset 8 inches from the outside edge of the road shoulder. On curbed streets, the roadside face of the mailbox shall be set back 8 inches from the face of the curb. On residential streets without curbs, or on all-weather shoulders which carry low-traffic volumes and which operate at low speeds, the roadside face of a mailbox shall be offset 24 inches behind the edge of the pavement. Where guardrail is present the mailbox shall be placed behind the guardrail with the face of the box even with the back of the rail. Where a mailbox is located at an intersecting road, it shall be located a minimum of 100 feet from the intersection.

STRUCTURE

Mailboxes shall be constructed of sheet metal, plastic or similar weight materials, with weight not to exceed 11 lbs. No more than two mailboxes may be mounted on a support structure unless the support structure and mailbox arrangement meet American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Standards. However, lightweight newspaper boxes may be mounted below the mailbox on the side of the mailbox support or on a separate post alongside. A single 4-inch x 4-inch or 4-1/2-inch diameter wooden post or a metal post with strength no greater than a 2-inch diameter standard strength steel pipe and embedded no more than 24 inches into the ground will be acceptable as a mailbox support. Mailbox supports shall not be fitted with an anchor plate (metal post) nor shall they be set in concrete. The post-to-box attachment details should be of sufficient strength to prevent the box from separating from the top post if the installation is struck by a vehicle.

VIOLATIONS

Any mailbox that is in violation of these regulations shall be immediately removed by the owner upon notification by the road commission. If the owner has not removed the mailbox, the road commission, in accordance with M.S.A. 9.251, will issue the owner an Encroachment 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).