An often-heard neighborhood request is the posting of generalized warning signs with “SLOW – CHILDREN PLAYING” or other similar messages. Parental concerns for the safety of children in the street near homes, and the misplaced but widespread public faith in traffic signs to provide protection often prompt these requests.
Although some other States have posted such signs widely in residential areas, no factual evidence has been presented to document their success in reducing pedestrian accidents, operating speeds, or legal liability. Studies have shown that many types of signs attempting to warn of normal conditions in residential areas have failed to achieve the desired safety benefits. If signs encourage parents and children to believe they have an added degree of protection, which the signs do not and cannot provide, a great disservice results.
Because of these serious considerations, Federal standards discourage the use of “Children Playing” signs. In fact, these signs have been removed from the standard signs in the FHWA’s MUTCD 2000 edition. Specific warnings for schools, playgrounds, parks, and other recreational facilities are available for use where clearly justified.
Children should not be encouraged to play within the street travelways. The sign has long been rejected since it is a direct and open suggestion that this behavior is acceptable.