The posting of generalized warning signs with "SLOW," "CHILDREN AT PLAY," or other similar messages is an often heard neighborhood request. Parental concern for the safety of children in the street near home is often the prompt for these requests, but this widespread public faith in traffic signs is misguided. The times in which such a sign is applicable are infrequent to the point where such signs are ignored by regular drivers. Worse yet, these signs often create a false sense of security for children and parents.
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 falsely encourage parents and children to believe they have an added degree of protection, a great disservice results.
Because of these serious considerations, California does not recognize, and Federal Standards discourage, use of "Children at Play" signs. Children should be encouraged not to play in the street. Warning signs to the contrary have long been rejected since they are a direct and open suggestion that this behavior is acceptable.