ATSSA President & CEO Stacy Tetschner was pleased to see today’s release of the revised Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).
“This document is a key piece of nationwide efforts to address roadway safety and it is essential that it reflects the significant advancements in roadway safety infrastructure since issuance of the last edition more than a decade ago,” Tetschner said. “This includes advances in the devices, technology and practices. We understand the long hours that go into producing a document such as this and are pleased it is now available for public view and will soon go into effect.”
In May, Tetschner wrote to Federal Highway Administration Administrator Shailen P. Bhatt on behalf of the 1,500 member companies of ATSSA to urge him to see that his agency met the May 15 deadline for publishing the revised version.
The 11th edition was published today in the Federal Register. It goes into effect on Jan. 18.
This morning’s release on the Federal Register provides a high-level summary of changes. The FHWA MUTCD website has since published the full edition, which is now considered the “current edition” and is available in pdf format. (Note: This file is large and takes time to download.)
Over the next 30 days, the NCUTCD technical committees and joint task forces will be reviewing and evaluating the content in the new Manual.
In its release on the Federal Register, the FHWA notes that the MUTCD is “recognized as the national standard for traffic control devices used on all public roads, bikeways, or private roads open to public travel.
“The purpose of this final rule is to revise Standard, Guidance, Option provisions, and supporting information, relating to the traffic control devices in all parts of the MUTCD to improve safety for all road users by promoting uniformity, and to incorporate new provisions that reflect technological advances in traffic control device application.”
The document explains that safety is an overarching goal.
“Uniform traffic control devices are critical to ensuring safety across the roadway network, and are part of the Safe System Approach, adopted by [the U.S. Department of Transportation]. The Safe System Approach addresses every aspect of reducing crash risks, including safer road users, safer speeds, safer roads, safer vehicles, and safer post-crash care. Traffic control devices influence three of these factors by guiding roadway users toward uniform and predictable behavior; directing roadway users on safe operating speeds; and, in conjunction with roadway infrastructure, separating users in time and space. This approach can prevent crashes and reduce the kinetic energy transfer that can result in human injury or death.”
It also states that the safety of vulnerable road users (VRUs) is a focus of the document and prominent throughout.
The MUTCD is limited to traffic control devices, not roadway design. It specifically addresses signs, signals and markings—how they should appear, operate and be used, the document states.
The Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act (IIJA) passed in November 2021 required the federal government to issue a new edition of the MUTCD within 18 months of the IIJA’s enactment and then every four years after that.
As summarized in today’s release, the IIJA called for the updated MUTCD to address protection of VRUs and each of the following: “safe testing of automated vehicle technology and safe integration of automated vehicles onto public streets; appropriate use of changeable message signs (CMS) to enhance safety; the minimum retroreflectivity of traffic control devices, including pavement markings; and any additional recommendations made by the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (NCUTCD).”
The final rule issued today serves as the 11th edition of the MUTCD. The last edition of the MUTCD was adopted in 2009.
FHWA notes in today’s posting that it received more than 17,000 submissions containing more than 100,0000 individual comments during the process of producing the 11th edition. Comments came from state departments of transportation, city and county governments, federal agencies, the NCUTCD, consultants, associations, organizations and individuals.