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Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices

80th Birthday of the MUTCD

Your MUTCD Turns 80!

On November 7, 2015, the 80th birthday of the MUTCD, and throughout the year when you see an easy-to-read sign, a bright edgeline marking on a foggy night, the countdown timer at a crosswalk, or a well-placed bike lane, take a moment to reflect on the eighty years of progress and innovation that the MUTCD embodies. This progress has resulted in safer, more efficient travel on our Nation's roads. Over the years, the MUTCD has unknowingly become the traveler's best friend and silent companion, guiding us on our way along the streets, bikeways, back roads, and highways. As the direct means of communication with the traveler, traffic control devices speak to us softly, yet effectively and authoritatively. From glass 揷at抯-eye?reflectors to glass beads to microprismatic sheeting, nighttime sign visibility has advanced significantly. Active devices at rail crossings save lives by giving us a positive message about train traffic. And countdown timers on pedestrian signals help us cross a busy street. So the next time you hit the pavement, the path, or the pedals, you can be sure that the MUTCD, through our dedicated professionals who make complex decisions on what devices to install, will help you get where you want to go safely, efficiently, and comfortably! The MUTCD…it's all about you!

Termination of Interim Approval 5

On January 25, 2016, the FHWA published a notice in the Federal Register terminating Interim Approval 5, which permitted the optional use of the Clearview letter style on positive-contrast highway guide sign legends. All highway agencies, including those agencies who received the FHWA's approval to use Clearview under Interim Approval 5, shall use the FHWA Standard Alphabets for all new and replacement signs. However, any existing sign that uses Clearview lettering may remain in place until it reaches the end of its useful service life. The Interim Approvals page contains additional information about implementation.

Official Interpretation 2(09)-111 – International Symbol of Accessibility

On May 28, 2015, the FHWA issued Official Interpretation 2(09)-111 to clarify that it is not permissible in traffic control device applications to substitute alternative versions of the International Symbol of Accessibility for the official symbol depicted in the MUTCD and detailed in Standard Highway Signs.

Standard Highway Signs and Markings

The 2009 MUTCD sign layouts are available. The Federal Highway Administration has developed the design details of the new signs added in the 2009 Edition of the MUTCD and signs whose designs have been modified in the 2009 MUTCD. The new and modified designs are provided in the form of a 2012 Supplement to the 2004 Edition of Standard Highway Signs.

The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, or MUTCD defines the standards used by road managers nationwide to install and maintain traffic control devices on all public streets, highways, bikeways, and private roads open to public travel. The MUTCD is published by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) under 23 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 655, Subpart F.

The MUTCD, which has been administered by the FHWA since 1971, is a compilation of national standards for all traffic control devices, including road markings, highway signs, and traffic signals. It is updated periodically to accommodate the nation's changing transportation needs and address new safety technologies, traffic control tools and traffic management techniques.

On December 16, 2009 a final rule adopting the 2009 Edition of the MUTCD was published in the Federal Register with an effective date of January 15, 2010. States must adopt the 2009 National MUTCD as their legal State standard for traffic control devices within two years from the effective date. The Federal Register notice, which provides detailed discussion of the FHWA's decisions on major changes from the 2003 edition, can be viewed at http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/pdf/E9-28322.pdf (PDF, 716KB).

FHWA does not print copies of the MUTCD. National organizations have partnered and printed hard copies of the MUTCD. These hard copies are available for sale. Go to ATSSA, ITE, AASHTO, or IMSA to get sales information.

On May 14, 2012 final rules adopting Revisions 1 and 2 of the 2009, MUTCD were published in the Federal Register with an effective date of June 13, 2012. The Federal Register notices, which provide detailed discussions of the FHWA's decisions can be viewed at:

  • Revision 1 - National Standards for Traffic Control Devices; the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways; Revision; Final Rule [FHWA Docket No. FHWA-2010-0170] (PDF 229KB, HTML)
  • Revision 2 - National Standards for Traffic Control Devices; the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways; Revision; Final Rule [FHWA Docket No. FHWA-2010-0159] (PDF 242KB, HTML)

The PDF version of the 2009 MUTCD with Revision Numbers 1 and 2 incorporated, dated May 2012 of the MUTCD is the most current edition of the official FHWA publication.

What's New

  • Request for Comments – Future Direction of the MUTCD - On December 22, 2015, the FHWA published a Request for Comments (Docket ID: FHWA-2015-0028) in the Federal Register soliciting input on future direction of the MUTCD. Topic areas included target audience and intended user, content and organization, and frequency of MUTCD editions. The docket closed on February 18, 2016. The direct link to the docket is http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=FHWA_FRDOC_0001-1260.
  • On August 12, 2014, the FHWA issued Interim Approval 17 to permit the optional use for a protected/permissive turn phase of a three-section flashing yellow arrow (FYA) signal face that uses the middle section to show both the FYA and the steady yellow arrow. Agencies may also continue to use the four-section FYA signal face (and the three-section FYA signal face that uses a bottom dual-arrow section to show both the steady green arrow and the FYA) that is described in Sections 4D.20 and 4D.24 for protected/permissive turn phases. This interim approval also has no impact on the use of a three-section FYA signal face for a permissive only turn phase as described in Sections 4D.18 and 4D.22.
  • June 20, 2014: Federally-funded research was conducted by the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) regarding the effectiveness of various flash patterns for Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFBs). The initial experimentation with RRFBs that led to the eventual interim approval for this device only tested one relatively complex flash pattern. Before proposing to add this new device to the MUTCD, the FHWA was interested in finding out if a simpler flash pattern that included more dark time would be equally or more effective at getting motorists to stop for pedestrians at uncontrolled crossings. The TTI research showed that two different simpler flash patterns were just as effective as the currently-approved pattern. An overview of the study and an executive summary that provides the detailed results are available on the TTI Web site. One of the simpler flash patterns is approved for optional use based on an official interpretation.
  • On April 7, 2014, the FHWA issued a directive, Policy on Sponsorship Acknowledgment and Agreements within the Highway Right-of-Way, outlining the conditions under which Acknowledgment signing may be installed for the sponsorship various highway-related services. This directive is an update of the policy issued March 13, 2012. The directive can be viewed in the Policy Statements area.
  • On June 17, 2013, the FHWA published a Response to the Request for Comments in the Federal Register. The direct link to the June 17th Federal Register notice is http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-06-17/pdf/2013-14266.pdf. Given the lack of support from the MUTCD user community, the FHWA will not proceed with splitting the MUTCD into two documents at this time. Instead, the FHWA will focus on options that would make the MUTCD easier to use. The FHWA believes that focusing on these types of options while continuing to explore ways to enhance and streamline the current MUTCD updating process will best serve the user community. The FHWA will use the valuable information offered in the responses to guide its approach to updating the MUTCD.
  • On January 11, 2013, the FHWA published a Request for Comments (Docket ID: FHWA-2012-0118) in the Federal Register soliciting input on the option of splitting the material in the MUTCD into two separate documents in the interest of providing a simpler, streamlined MUTCD that would be easier to use, and if it is split, what are some of the potential formats for doing so. The direct link to the docket is http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=FHWA-2012-0118.

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