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Missing stop sign more than inconvenience

It’s 8 feet high and 24 inches wide and it can save a life. Or rather without it, a life can be lost.

The lowly stop sign isn’t so lowly, if it is missing. And County Engineer Doug Cade spends at least a day or two a month replacing stop signs across the county.

“Sometimes it is twice in one week,” Cade said. “One of the repeat offenders for lack of a better word is at the intersection of County Road 105 and County Road 19 in Lawrence Township. And that is a sign we will put up and within a matter of days, it will be stolen or knocked down or taken down.”

Replacing a sign costs the county $150 each counting the sign and manpower to reinstall it. However, a missing sign can have an even greater cost.

Last week a 19-year-old from Pickaway County was sentenced to four years in prison for deliberately obscuring a stop sign on a county road there. That prank caused an 81-year-old woman to drive into the path of another car. Her 85-year-old sister was killed at the scene. The driver died three weeks later.

“That situation is where somebody thought they were playing a prank and it cost someone their life,” Cade said. “It is unthinkable. Young kids make poor decisions. Unfortunately that will cost him four years in prison.”

Right now Cade and his crews must rely on county residents to let them know when a sign is gone or see it themselves.

“About two months ago we got a phone call right at closing time on Friday that a stop sign was down on Township Road 114,” Cade said. “As soon as we know a stop sign is down, we take care of it.”

However a recent crash study may provide information that will allow law enforcement to monitor those areas where removing signs has been a habitual problem.

The study started two months ago to catalogue accidents according to cause.

“Was it because of improper signage or because of speed or someone was under the influence,” the engineer said. “We will know what those areas are.”

That data, compiled by the Traffic Safety Analysis Systems and Services of Grove City, will be presented on April 27 at a KYOVA Interstate Planning Commission meeting.

“This will help us to identify the hot spots where we need to either improve safety through signage or brush clearage or let law enforcement know these are areas that are hot spots,” Cade said. “Signs are not for the people who live around here. Signs are for people who are not from around here. If you are not familiar with that area, you won’t know to stop.”