Cornell Local Roads Program

UPDATE Can I use a “Child with Autism” warning sign in New York?

No, but the New York State Department of Transportation has just approved the use of the Child with Autism road plaque with a Pedestrian (W11-2) sign. The plaque shall not be used by itself. A plaque is a panel that is placed under another sign and is not used by itself.

The plaque may be used if all of the following conditions exist.

  1. The child with autism is under the age of 18;
  2. The average daily traffic volume is less than 2,000 vehicles;
  3. The speed limit is 35 mph or less; and
  4. The highway is residential in nature.

While not required, it may be a good idea to set a date on the plaque for it to be removed when the child in question reaches 18 so as not to expose the municipality to liability.

While allowed, be sure to use the plaque carefully. Unlike visually-impaired or hearing-impaired children, a child with autism will behave in a variety of ways and a driver encountering such a warning sign would not know what behavior to look for or what they may be required to do differently from their normal careful driving.

People often believe that the addition of a warning sign/plaque will make the children who live along a road “safer.” The reality of warning signs and plaques that warn of things other than actual static conditions (curves, hills, low clearance, etc.) is that they are largely ignored by drivers of all types and ages. Drivers on roads that have obvious residential development (cities, villages, suburbs) should expect to see children and other pedestrians and adjust their driving behavior accordingly; it is unnecessary to install signs that inform drivers that there may be children living in the houses that are in plain sight.

As this is a new plaque in New York State, please let us know if you plan to use it and whether it appears to be effective or not. We can pass this information onto NYSDOT so they can make informed decisions regarding plaque regulations in the future.

Standard (language which is now part of the NYS Supplement)

The CHILD WITH AUTISM plaque may be used to supplement the Pedestrian (W11-2) sign to warn motorists to be especially alert for a child with autism who may be prone to running into the roadway due to their inability to perceive danger.

The CHILD WITH AUTISM plaque should be used only where all the following conditions exist:

A. The child with autism is under the age of 18;

B. The average daily traffic volume is less than 2000 vehicles;

C. The speed limit is 35 mph or less; and

D. The highway is residential in nature.


The CHILD WITH AUTISM plaque shall not be used alone.

The CHILD WITH AUTISM plaque shall be accorded the alphanumeric designation “NYW11-2P.” When supplementing a 30” W11-2 sign, the plaque shall be 24” x 18”. When supplementing a 36” W11-2 sign, the plaque shall be 30” x 24”.

Resources:

NYSDOT Plaque Approval

NYS Vehicle and Traffic Law, Title 8, Article 44, Section 1680, 2012. (V&T Law can be found under “Laws of New York” and then under “VAT” Once in there you would go to Article 44 and Section 1680 from there.)

The National MUTCD and NYS Supplement on the NYSDOT website

Autism Support Network

Employer Assistance and Resources Network on Disability Inclusion

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