Seton Identification and Safety Products
What is the MUTCD?
The Purpose of the MUTCD
The MUTCD Requirements Apply to All Publically Traveled Roads
How State Laws Work With the MUTCD
Consequences of Non-Compliance to the MUTCD
Benefits of Complying With the MUTCD
Changes to the MUTCD
Examples of Compliant and Non-Compliant Signs
More MUTCD Specifications
Where to Get a Copy of the MUTCD
Additional Information
Federal Regulations Require That All Public Traveled Roads Have MUTCD Compliant Signs. Do Your Parking Lots and Roadways Comply?
What is the MUTCD?
The MUTCD (Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices) is the national guidebook published by the FHWA (Federal Highway Administration) that defines and regulates the use all traffic control devices, traffic signs, traffic signals, and pavement markings in the United States. The MUTCD regulates the size, color, shape, wording and placement of all traffic control devices.
The Purpose of the MUTCD
The purpose of the MUTCD is to ensure that traffic control devices are uniform across the nation. The uniformity of these devices such as stop signs, crossing signs, caution signs, and speed limit signs ensure that they are easily understood and consistently recognized. This consistency increases highway safety, improves traffic flow, and decreases accidents on streets and highways. By giving drivers consistent, uniform sign messages wherever they travel, it decreases their confusion and adds to their overall safety.

The MUTCD Requirements Apply to All Publically Traveled Roads
The MUTCD guidelines apply to all roads and streets in the United States. Title 23 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 655.603 states that the MUTCD is the national standard for all traffic control devices and traffic signs installed on any street or highway open to public travel. This includes all private roads, toll roads, bike paths and roads within shopping centers, parking lot areas, airports, sports arenas, churches, parks, universities, condo complexes and other similar business and/or recreation facilities that are privately owned but where the public is allowed to travel without access restrictions.

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How State Laws Work With the MUTCD
In addition to the national MUTCD, most states also have their own MUTCD regulations as well. Title 23 of the Code of Federal Regulations requires all States to do one of these three things within two years after a new national MUTCD edition is issued or any national MUTCD amendments are made:
1) Adopt the new or revised national MUTCD as the standard for traffic control devices in the State.
2) Adopt the national MUTCD with a State Supplement that is in substantial conformance with the new or revised national MUTCD.
3) Adopt a State MUTCD that is in substantial conformance with the new or revised national MUTCD.
The individual states choose, install, operate, and maintain all traffic control devices and traffic signs on all roadways (including the Interstate and the U.S. numbered systems) nationwide. If the state law has adopted a state supplement or a state MUTCD that FHWA says is in substantial conformance with the national MUTCD, then those state laws are what the local road agencies and the state DOT must follow. The exception is when traffic control devices and traffic signs are installed on a federal aid project. In that case, the Code of Federal Regulations (23 CFR 655.603(d)(2)) specifically requires those devices and traffic signs comply with the national MUTCD before the road can be opened or reopened to the public use.
Local governments also can make compliance with the MUTCD a specific requirement of their building code ordinances or can include a clause in their detailed building or occupancy permits for shopping malls, private developments, etc. to require all traffic control devices and traffic signs installed in the private development to conform to the MUTCD
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Consequences of Non-Compliance to the MUTCD
Not complying with the standards outlined in the MUTCD can result in severe consequences. If property owners or property managers don’t comply with MUTCD regulations, they run the risk of liability and lawsuits should someone be injured or killed on their property.
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Benefits of Complying With the MUTCD
Signs that comply with MUTCD regulations promote safety on your property, improve your property image and make your property more inviting to the general public. Having MUTCD compliant says may also reduce your insurance costs.
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Changes to the MUTCD
The MUTCD is constantly amended to keep up with changing traffic needs. The first MUTCD was published in1935. Since then there have been eight revisions. The MUTCD is revised periodically to allow for changes in road usage, changing road conditions and improvements in sign materials and traffic control technologies. The FHWA usually issues a new MUTCD about every 5 years and tries to keep revisions to an absolute minimum between new editions. The most current MUTCD is the 2003 edition that has since had 2 revisions. It is currently under review and a release is scheduled to happen shortly.
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Examples of Compliant and Non-Compliant Signs
  Non-Compliant Compliant
Stop Sign Stop Sign Stop Sign
  Non-Compliant Compliant
Do Not Enter Sign Do Not Enter Sign Do Not Enter Sign
  Non-Compliant Compliant
One Way Sign
One Way Sign One Way Sign
  Non-Compliant Compliant
Speed Limit Sign Speed Limit Sign Speed Limit Sign
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More MUTCD Specifications:
Detour Sign Pedestrian Crossing Sign Posts

Sign Visibility:
Any red, yellow or orange traffic sign must be made with High Intensity reflective material so that
it is visible as the same shape and similar in color both day and night.

Sign Materials:  
Signs must be
steel, aluminum or
plastic, not wood.

Sign Post Height:
Signs should be mounted at 7 feet in urban areas
at 5 feet in rural areas.

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Where to Get a Copy of the MUTCD
The manual may be ordered from the Institute of Traffic Engineers at http://www.ite.org/ or may be downloaded at the MUTCD web site http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov .
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Additional Information
Click here for additional information and examples of MUTCD compliant and non-compliant traffic control devices from the American Traffic Safety Service Association (ATSSA).
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MUTCD Traffic Sign
Help Guide
Stop Sign
Stop Sign
Size: 18" x 18" or Larger
Material: Steel, Plastic & Aluminum
Reflectivity: Retroreflective Engineer Grade 1 (High-Intensity recommended)
Color: Red background,
White letters
Other: Reflectivity has a lifetime of 7 years and must be replaced if older.
Yield Sign
Yield Sign
Size: 18" x 18" or Larger
Material: Steel, Plastic & Aluminum
Reflectivity: Retroreflective Engineer Grade 1 (High-Intensity recommended)
Color: White inner background, Red outer background, Red Letters
Speed Limit Sign
Speed Limit Sign
Size: 18" x 24" or Larger
Material: Steel, Plastic & Aluminum
Reflectivity: Retroreflective Engineer Grade 1 (High-Intensity recommended)
Color: White background,
Black letters
Other: Limit must be in increments of 5 mph.
Pedestrian Crossing Sign
Pedestrian Crossing Sign
Size: 30" x 30" or Larger
Material: Steel, Plastic & Aluminum
Reflectivity: Retroreflective Engineer Grade 1 (High-Intensity recommended)
Color: Yellow/Fluorescent Green background, Black symbol
Do Not Enter Sign
Do Not Enter Sign
Size: 30" x 30" or Larger
Material: Steel, Plastic & Aluminum
Reflectivity: Retroreflective Engineer Grade 1 (High-Intensity recommended)
Color: White letters, White background, Red symbol
Slow Sign
Slow Sign
Size: 30" x 30" or Larger
Material: Steel, Plastic & Aluminum
Reflectivity: Retroreflective Engineer Grade 1 (High-Intensity recommended) or Diamond Grade
Color: Black letters, Yellow background
 
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