The United States has over 4 million miles of roadways in the country, according to the data by the U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). To assist drivers to navigate safely on these roads, community development use signs displaying a street name with reflective displays. All street signs designed must comply with Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). Local municipalities may take down signs that are not compliant with MUTCD. Lets get into what makes your street name signs are MUTCD compliant!
What is MUTCD?
Available to the public on the FHWA website, MUTCD is a manual that has all the information on street signs, traffic signals, and ground markings to be compliant to the FHWA specifications. It also lists design compliances such as, specific colors, fonts, and shapes. If you are developing MUTCD compliant street signs, it is important that you comply with all of these requirements when choosing street name signs for your community.
What are all of the requirements?
- Reflectivity - The FHWA updates the MUTCD on a decade basis, to include new requirements for roadway signage. The intent of the requirements is to improve visibility for drivers and to lower collision rates in low visibility areas. The FHWA has stated only a quarter of road travel occurs at night, but night driving is responsible for over 50% of vehicle collisions. Under the newly advised MUTCD, all of the street signs must have a minimum reflectivity level, a rule that applies to guide signs as well.
- Combination of Uppercase and Lowercase Letters - Over the years, street name signs across the United States have had all uppercase letters, ie: “MAIN ST”. The FHWA has updated the MUTCD in 2009 to change the formatting. All street signs now, must feature both uppercase and lowercase letters. It now follows proper grammar with the first letter starting with an uppercase letter. It now, being MUTCD complaint will read, “Main St.”. The FHWA has proclaimed that a combination of uppercase and lowercase is easier to read than all uppercase letters.
- Needs a Minimum of 4 ½ inch Lower case letters and 6 inch Upper case letters - When introducing the specifications on requiring lowercase letters and uppercase letters, the MUTCD then includes the height requirements for the letters on the street name signs. The lowercase letters are required to be at least 4 ½ inches tall, while the uppercase letters must be at least 6 inches. There is an exception for two lane streets with a modest speed limit of 25 mph where the lowercase letters must be at least 3 inches tall and the uppercase letters must be at least 4 inches.