Road signs are the primary method of delivering important information along freeways, streets and by-ways, and most people don’t give road signs a second thought. But just imagine the chaos that would ensue if speed placards weren’t posted, or warning signs for curves ahead were missing.
In the event you notice a damaged or missing sign, or you are involved in the damage, the following actions will need to be taken to ensure the safety of everyone.
What Do I Do if I Damage a Road Sign?
Road signs can come down for many reasons. Intense weather can damage a street placard, sometimes vandals can steal street placards. Most often though, vehicles hit road indicators and take them down.
If you notice a road placard on the ground or that is missing, it needs to be reported, regardless of who was at fault. Generally speaking, you should contact the local public works department or transportation division of government to report a downed placard.
Alternatively, you can call the local non-emergency number for law enforcement and report the damaged placard. The dispatcher should then know which agency to contact to get the indicator fixed.
If you were responsible for hitting the sign, you will need to report it, just as if you had hit another car or person. Local regulations and laws will determine whether you will have to pay to replace the sign or not, but you should take responsibility, as the fines and legal trouble that would result if you left will tend to be much worse.
Your insurance may pay a portion of the replacement costs. Again, you should call the local non-emergency number to report it if you aren’t sure about which public entity is responsible for the management of road indicators.
Can You Get in Trouble for Hitting a Sign?
Hitting a road sign is usually considered a moving violation, although it isn’t nearly as serious as hitting a pedestrian or another vehicle. When you call to report the indicator, you may have to deal with law enforcement, and the question of whether you will be charged will depend upon the situation.
If you lost control due to a patch of ice or ran into the placard after being momentarily distracted, you could be given a ticket for careless driving, which typically carries a fine of $50 to $100.
However, if you were driving recklessly or dangerously, the officer could increase the charges to a more serious violation. Reckless driving fines are higher than careless driving, so you could pay $500 or more. In addition, you may have to attend traffic school to avoid more points on your license.
Hit and run accidents are taken much more seriously. If you hit a street sign and then leave the scene of the accident, you will face more severe charges. Even if no one was hurt, leaving the scene of an accident can cost you your license, and is punishable by heavier fines.
If you can’t get cell service or don’t have a phone, you should find a location that does have service and make the call immediately. Explain why you left and offer to go back or meet the officer at the local police station.
How Much is it to Replace a Sign?
The costs of placards vary from $25 up to thousands of dollars. Stop signs and warning indicators usually run between $25 and $150, depending the size and placement.
Foundational placards on bridges can cost up to $10,000, and sometimes more. This will also be simply the replacement cost, and doesn’t take into account any labor and transportation costs.
Something as simple as a stop indicator may still cost more, as the placard itself may only cost about $100, but it must be replaced quickly. Paying overtime to the workers and the expense of travel can easily raise the cost of replacing the placard.
Who is Responsible for Street Signs?
Generally speaking, the government is responsible for street indicators. Local city signs would be under the municipality, while county indicators would fall under county management. Highway placards will likely fall under the purview of the state’s transportation department.
There are exceptions to the rule, though. Developers are generally responsible for installing the street placards where they are building, and their responsibility may extend for a year after installation.
Because there are so many considerations for street placards, it can be easier to call the local non-emergency number and let the government agencies sort it out.
Need Street Signs for Your City or State?
If you’re developing a community and need road indicators for the neighborhood, or need to quickly replace a placard that has been damaged, contact us at Worksafe Traffic Control Industries for high-quality street indicators that are MUTCD-certified and compliant.
We have a 7-day turnaround on orders, and can offer competitive pricing. Let us take care of your needs to keep traffic moving effectively and safely.