Your mom always taught you to stop at the red light - go on the green.

But Mayor Larry Smith says he's getting too many mixed signals to solve the city's numerous traffic problems.Last week he got the green light from a group of Sandy residents who've identified more than 160 traffic-safety concerns.

But federal traffic standards required of each municipality by the Legislature are shinning a big red light in Smith's face.

And the mayor is frustrated.

"We're appreciative of what the people did. Overall the group did an incredibly good job of identifying some of the safety issues and concerns we have as a community," he said of a comprehensive report by the Sandy City Traffic Safety Task Force.

The residents' group was created by the City Council after two children were killed in automobile-pedestrian accidents near Sandy schools in the latter part of 1990.

The group met 15 times, held four public hearings and observed presentations on traffic safety from city and county law-enforcement officials, the Jordan School District and the Utah Department of Transportation.

Last week at a press conference, task-force members issued a report of 40-plus pages, identifying more than 160 specific concerns.

Speeding, inadequate sidewalks, inadequate crosswalks and deficient coordination between public works departments and law-enforcement agencies topped the list of problems uncovered during the group's five-month study.

Smith said he shares the group's concerns. "But because of state legislative action and federal laws, we have very little flexibility in dealing with some of the issues they raised."

For example, he said a number of the traffic signals the group proposed can't go up if Sandy doesn't meet federal traffic warrants - requirements to make the state eligible for federal highway money.

"We cannot put a four-way stop in an intersection unless there's an equal amount of traffic coming from all four directions - within 5 percent," Smith said.

Additionally, the city has been forced to yield to the state, which owns many of the hazardous roads identified by the citizens. Smith said he can push - but not force - the state to move quickly to make roadways safer for schoolchildren.

City budget constraints also are hindering progress. Smith said the city has far more traffic needs than money to solve them.

"They (the 160 concerns) are all valid needs, but Sandy is already putting a higher percentage of budget into infrastructure improvements than any other jurisdiction," Smith said. "In the last nine years, we've built over six miles of major new roadway - more than all the other cities in Salt Lake County combined.

"The traffic situation is better because of the things we have done and will continue to do, which are more than anyone would expect based on the growth we have experienced as a city."

But even with the "Report on Traffic Safety Issues Impacting Sandy City" in hand, Smith said it will be years before the city's traffic problems are solved.