Traffic signs have quiet but important jobs

Consider the simple traffic sign or signal. It stands by the side of the highway doing its job regardless of the season. We rely on it to tell us when to stop, how fast to go, which way to turn or whether we can travel in a certain direction as well as many other controlling functions. This is a reliance that we might not consider until we run into trouble because it is lacking.

What happens when vandals knock down one of the stop signs at a four way stop, and the intersection is approached by a driver who doesn't know there should be a sign there? Cross traffic is expecting him to stop ... the rest is up to your imagination.

Those that interfere with traffic signs and signals may be dealt with in a variety of ways. The most serious of these are found in the Criminal Code. In the case of simple damage, the mischief provisions might apply. If the death or bodily harm to a person results, the criminal negligence provisions could be used.

The Motor Vehicle Act also contains three sections, 135, 136 and 137 that apply to traffic signs and signals. Section 135 makes it an offence to erect or maintain a device on or near a highway that resembles or interferes with a traffic control device. Section 136 forbids placing of commercial advertising on a traffic control device. Finally, section 137 deals with altering, injuring or removing a traffic control device or any part of it.

For more information about this topic, visit Questions or comments are welcome by e-mail to Tim Schewe is a retired RCMP constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. His column appears Thursdays.

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