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FHWA 02-16
Friday, January 15, 2016
Contact: Neil Gaffney

Federal Highway Administration Asks Public for Comments on the Future Editions of National Traffic Control Manual

WASHINGTON – The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is seeking input from State and local traffic experts nationwide – including traffic engineers, traffic control device technicians, and other stakeholders – to help shape future editions of the “Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways” (MUTCD). The Manual is the national standard for signs and other tools used to improve mobility and make travel for drivers, pedestrians and bicycle riders as safe and efficient as possible.

In recent years, the transportation community has expressed concerns related to the size and complexity of the MUTCD, which has grown too large to print cost-effectively since its creation 80 years ago. FHWA is laying the groundwork for future MUTCD editions that can reflect the growing number and application of traffic control devices and advances in traffic control technology. FHWA is also seeking input on improving the ability to view content in the 862-page MUTCD and developing a structure to make it easier to use.

In a Federal Register notice (FRN) published on December 22, 2015, the FHWA asked:

  • Should MUTCD content continue to be written with a traffic engineer as the intended audience?
  • In future editions, should the FHWA strive to reduce the amount of explanatory language included in the MUTCD and if so, what types of explanatory language should be removed?
  • If explanatory and supplementary information is removed, should it be retained in a separate document?

The MUTCD was incorporated by reference into the Code of Federal Regulations beginning with the publication of the 1971 edition and includes three levels of provisions – “shall,” “should” and “may” – which afford local transportation authorities a high degree of leeway to accommodate differing roadway environments. Ten editions have been published since 1935. The most recent edition of the MUTCD, published in 2009, subsequently incorporated Revisions 1 and 2 and was finalized in 2012. It is available online at http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/pdfs/2009r1r2/pdf_index.htm.

FHWA is accepting online comments through Feb. 18, 2016, through the Federal eRulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov. The next edition of the MUTCD is tentatively slated to be published in late 2018 and FHWA is preparing to publish a separate Notice of Proposed Amendments on the content for that edition of the MUTCD. Depending on the nature and extent of comments submitted in response to the December 22nd Federal Register Notice, FHWA may incorporate suggestions related to the MUTCD’s audience and structure in the next edition of the manual.

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Page posted on January 15, 2016.
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