What are the Requirements and Regulations of a Stop Sign?

Why did Chick and Ken not cross the road? They were just too chicken!

In today’s installment, we look at the thought-provoking requirements and regulations of a stop sign.

MUTCD Stop Sign Requirements


A stop sign is perhaps one of the most common traffic signs available. However, if you don’t drive and ride in cars much, the stop signs in the US (there are different in other countries) are octagonal (i.e. has eight sides), a cherry red color, and have the word S-T-O-P spelled out in big white capital letters from left to right.

The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) states that:

  • Stop signs must be octagonal
  • have a red background
  • have the word S-T-O-P written in white.
  • have a white border.

In some cases, there may be a supplemental sign, for example, “2-way” or “4-way” as an indication of the number of stop signs at the intersection.

Although at WorkSafe TCI, we offer stop signs for sale of different sizes ( 12″ by 12″ or with graded reflective capabilities), to be MUTCD-compliant however, you must only use one design and shape for all stop signs.


As with everything traffic-related, the MUTCD also outlines the size requirements for stop signs. They are as follows:

  • 1.24” x 24” is the size for stop signs to be used in parking lots and on private roads.
  • 2.30” x 30” is the minimum stop sign size requirement for official roadways.
  • 3.30” x 30” is the requisite size for stop signs located on single and conventional roadways.
  • 4.36” x 36” is the required stop sign size to be installed on a multi-lane approach.
  • 5.36” x 36” is the size requirement for stop signs located at dangerous intersections.
  • 6. On expressways, stop signs must be 36” x 36” or larger.
  • 7.48” x 48” is regarded as oversized for a stop sign. It is used in situations where speed, volume, or other factors require the need for increased visibility.

MUTCD Stop Sign Regulations

A stop sign is one of many regulatory traffic signs. This means it is used to “tame”, regulate or regularize motorized and human traffic by informing it about selected traffic laws or regulations and how to proceed or act. In the case of a stop sign, it is specifically displayed to control conflicting traffic by assigning right-of-way to one direction of traffic over the other. As such, a stop sign is often placed at intersections or areas where traffic merges or crosses.

The Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) provides several regulations and guidelines to be followed when installing stop signs. For example, stop signs must be visible and legible at all times.

As to when and where stop signs should be used, the MUTCD explains that they should only be used if engineering judgment specifies one or more of the following SIX conditions exist:

  1. There is an unsignalized intersection in a signalized area.
  2. When there are high speeds, a restricted view or crash records show the need for control, which can be helped with a stop sign.
  3. On a street leading into a through street or highway
  4. At an intersection of a less important road with a busy or main road
  5. At intersections that do not justify the installation of a traffic signal or a roundabout but have conflicting traffic movements present.
  6. in residential areas or near places where children are frequently found.