POP: Signing of Low Traffic Roads

POP: Yes
Res #: POP 12-02M
Number: 12
Year: 2002
Midterm: Yes
Expired: Yes
Responses Received: No
Departments: Matters Pertaining to SARM

Point of Privilege Resolution No. 12-02M

WHEREAS, municipalities are facing ever growing liability issues with regards to the use of back roads by motorists unfamiliar with the rural area; and

WHEREAS, there is currently no standard sign use on these back roads that can address the liability issues; and

WHEREAS, municipalities are encouraged to be proactive with regards to signage and issues pertaining to these roads however, the cost of custom made signs is prohibitive as well as causing inconsistency from municipality to municipality;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that SARM be directed to develop a standard sign for use on back or unmaintained roads that will address liability concerns as well as being more cost effective.

Response From SARM:

At the outset, it should be noted that no sign can relieve a council of its obligation to keep in a reasonable state of repair all municipal roads, as set out in section 192 of The Rural Municipality Act, 1989. Once a road has been opened for use by the public, council does not have the option of not maintaining the same.

Having said this, signs such as "Unimproved Road", "Low Maintenance Road" or "No Traffic Signs" would serve to put a motorist on notice that extra care and attention is required. The problem, however, with signs such as this is that if their use becomes common, then a failure to post such signs could give rise to liability. Standardization in the placement and application of warning signs is important as motorists tend to rely on the use of such signs in all similar situations.

In other words, if the use of such signs on low volume roads was to become a common practice, then it would be necessary for such signs to be placed on all such roads.

In the circumstances, and based on the advice of Saskatchewan Highways and Transportation, SARM does not recommend the use of such signs. Rather, council should inspect its roads with a view to identifying any conditions which are likely to constitute an unusual hazard or trap, particularly for motorists unfamiliar with the road. Signs should then be posted that are appropriate for the particular hazard. If in doubt as to what sign may be required, we encourage you to consult the Municipal Engineer for your district.