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Sign and Pavement Marking Retroreflectivity Vault

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 .



ATSSA Retroreflectivity Brochure

Sign Retroreflectivity FHWA Docket

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.

Media Coverage on Retroreflectivity
  Date   Item
  08/31/2011   To read an article from BNA, click here. For the DOT press release, click here.
  12/30/2010   To read an update to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article from December 16, click here.
  12/30/2010   To read an editorial from the Enid (Okla.) News on the importance of roadway safety in reducing then umber of fatalities on Oklahoma roads, click here.
  12/20/2010   To Read ATSSA's letter to the editor in response to the Wheeling News-Register article "Cities Preparing For New Street Sign Rules," click here.
  12/16/2010   To read ATSSA's letter to the editor in response to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article "Officials say federal requirement to update traffic control devices not too costly," click here.
  12/15/2010   To read ATSSA's letter to the editor in response to the Wall Street Journal article "New Puzzle: Why Fewer Are Killed In Car Crashes," click here.
  11/30/2010   To read ATSSA's letter to the editor in response to the New York Daily News article "Feds eye delay for costly plan to change New York City's street signs," click here.
  11/23/2010   To read ATSSA's letter to the editor in response to the Albany Times-Union article "Street sign named expensive," click here.
  11/01/2010   Read an article titled, "Street Sign Changes Are a Gradual Process" on the National League of Cities website.
  10/21/2010   To read ATSSA's letter to the editor in response to the USA Today article "ALL CAPS? Not OK on road signs, federal government says," click here.

FAQ VIDEOS on Sign Retroreflectivity Requirements

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.




  • The American Traffic Safety Services Association
  • 15 Riverside Parkway, Suite 100
  • Fredericksburg, Virginia 22406-1022
  • Telephone: (800) 272-8772



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