The Signal - Fall 2012
April 16, 2013
Congressional Research Service Study: "Ensuring That Traffic Signs Are
Visible at Night: Federal Regulations"
By David Randall Peterman, Analyst in Transportation Policy
Background: Since 2007, FHWA has amended certain national standards for
traffic signs. Among the new standards were a measurable standard for the
minimum level of nighttime visibility of traffic signs and a change in the
lettering of street signs. These new standards were the subject of some
confusion and controversy. Some state and local agencies complained that the
new standards would be relatively costly to comply with during a period when
state and local finances are strained. Some agencies also confused the new
nighttime visibility maintenance standard, which originally included
deadlines by which agencies had to comply with the new standard, with the
new sign-lettering standard, which did not have compliance deadlines. In
response to the criticism, FHWA eliminated some of the nighttime visibility
maintenance standard compliance deadlines. This report provides background
for the nighttime visibility maintenance standard and addresses some of the
issues that have been raised about this standard. To view the complete
study,click here .
What exactly is RETROREFLECTIVITY?
ATSSA Retroreflectivity Brochure
Maintaining Traffic Sign Retroreflectivity
Safety Benefits of TCDs
Sign Luminance Effect on Info Acquisition - Iowa -2008
MUTCD Update by FHWA
Key facts regarding street sign and sign retroreflectivity requirements
Minimum Retroreflectivity Levels for Overhead Guide Signs and Street-Name Signs
Updates to Research on Recommended Minimum Levels for Pavement Marking Retroreflectivity to Meet Driver Needs
Nighttime Visibility from FHWA
To see ATSSA's Comments to the Docket, Oct. 2011, click here.
To see AAA, AARP and the American Highway Users Alliance Comments to the Docket, click here.
To read the CRS Report on Revised Federal Standards for Traffic Signs, click here.
To be transported to the official FHWA Docket, “Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) Compliance Dates” click here
To post a comment to the docket – click here
To view existing comments to the docket – click here Be sure to check the “Public Submission” box at this link to view
To view the FHWA's final rule on retroreflectivity, click here.
To view the FHWA pamphlet desribing the minimum requirements, click here.
To view the FHWA's assesment on the cost to state and local governments, click here.
To view a Congressional Research Service FAQs on Revised Federal Standards for Traffic Signs, click here.
Snopes.com explains and clarifies confusion in the USA Today article.
For the latest on the sign upgrade and other ATSSA issues, follow @ATSSAHQ on Twitter.
Communicate directly with ATSSA’s President and CEO, Roger Wentz
President and Chief Executive Officer, Roger Wentz answers questions regarding the new street sign and sign retroreflectivity requirements. Simply click on a question below to view the video answer.