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Stop Signs – The Little Red Sign that Changed the World

Of all of the traffic signs in the world, the most easily and readily recognizable is definitely the stop sign. With its iconic red and white coloring and its distinctive octagonal shape this sign has been adopted by many counties around the globe. Even if you don't know the language if you see that red and white octagon, you know that it says STOP! First used in Michigan in 1918, stop signs are probably also the most important traffic sign that you can post. A stop sign provides a natural ebb and flow of traffic at intersections, which helps prevent automobile accidents.

The first stop signs were not red and white, nor where they octagonal. The original signs were 24 inch squares in black and white. The octagonal shape was decided upon years later, as no other sign had that shape. The thought was that, an octagonal sign would stand out and even if it wasn't facing you, if you saw that shape, you would know that the vehicle facing the sign would be stopping. The color of the sign was updated over the years from black and white to black and yellow before finally settling upon the now famous red and white color scheme.

Though most commonly found at intersections of two or more roads, you can also find stop signs in some less conventional locations. There are hand held stop signs that are used by crossing guards and even police officers at crosswalks, to allow pedestrians to safely cross streets. Many parking lots employ stop signs near their entrances or other places that people routinely walk through the flow of traffic. In its relatively short career as a traffic sign, the stop sign has already saved countless lives. Busy intersections that once would be deadly are now much more manageable because of the stop sign.

Though there are many young and reckless drivers that do run stop signs, most drivers are very conscientious of stop signs. Intersections that have a stop sign are considered to be dramatically safer than those that either have no sign or only a yield. Because of the stop sign, the color red itself is now associated with the word stop. Traffic signals use the color red to tell cars to stop which closely mirrors the sign that started it all, the stop sign. There is no doubt about it, the stop sign has changed the way that the world drives, and for the better!