Federal Highway Administration strives to improve safety on roads

Posted on December 17, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. — An update to the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHA) Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) became available earlier this week.

The manual has been administered by the FHA since 1971 and sets the national standard for all traffic control devices, including traffic signs, pavement markings, signals and other devices used to regulate, warn or guide traffic, thereby helping to reduce crashes and traffic congestion. This is the first comprehensive update since 2003.

New and updated requirements in the 2009 edition of the MUTCD range from changes in highway signs and bike lanes to the color of high-visibility garments worn by road workers.

For instance, by requiring better pavement markings to increase bike lane safety and extending walk times for pedestrians at crosswalks, the MUTCD furthers the “complete streets” concept — an effort to ensure that roads accommodate all types of travel, not just automobiles.

Most changes to the manual are a result of extensive research, but seven changes stem from recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board.

“Safety is this department’s top priority,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “These new and updated standards will help make our nation’s roads and bridges safer for drivers, construction workers and pedestrians alike.”

Other new provisions in the MUTCD include:

• Adding different lane markings for lanes that do not continue beyond an intersection or interchange to give drivers more warning that they need to move out of the lane if they don’t intend to turn.

• Expanding the use of flashing yellow arrow signals at some intersections to give a clearer indication that drivers can turn left after yielding to any opposing traffic.

• Identifying electronic toll collection lanes with purple signs.

• Adding overhead lane-use control signs to reduce confusion among drivers on unfamiliar multi-lane roadways.

For a full overview of the new rules and recommendations, visit

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