National Standards for Traffic Control Devices; the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways; Notification and Request for Comment
National Standards for Traffic Control Devices; the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways; Notification and Request for Comment
Victor M. Mendez
Federal Highway Administration
January 11, 2013
[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 8 (Friday, January 11, 2013)]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-00373]
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Federal Highway Administration
23 CFR Part 655
[FHWA Docket No. FHWA-2012-0118]
National Standards for Traffic Control Devices; the Manual on
Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways; Notification
and Request for Comment
AGENCY: Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), DOT.
ACTION: Notification; request for comment.
SUMMARY: The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) is
incorporated in our regulations, approved by the Federal Highway
Administration, and recognized as the national standard for traffic
control devices used on all streets, highways, bikeways, and private
roads open to public travel. Consistent with Executive Order 13563, and
in particular its emphasis on burden-reduction and on retrospective
analysis of existing rules, this document requests comments on
potential formats for restructuring the MUTCD into two documents, one
that would be subject to rulemaking and one that would contain
supplemental information that is not subject to rulemaking. This
document asks for responses to a series of questions regarding formats,
types of material to be included in each document, implications on
agency acceptance of the MUTCD, ease of use, and effects on future
DATES: Comments must be received on or before March 12, 2013.
ADDRESSES: Mail or hand deliver comments to the U.S. Department of
Transportation, Dockets Management Facility, Room W12-140, 1200 New
Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590, or fax comments to (202) 493-
2251. Alternatively, comments may be submitted to the Federal
eRulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov. All comments must
include the docket number that appears in the heading of this document.
All comments received will be available for examination and copying at
the above address from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., e.t., Monday through Friday,
except Federal holidays. Those desiring notification of receipt of
comments must include a self-addressed, stamped postcard or you may
print the acknowledgment page that appears after submitting comments
electronically. Anyone is able to search the electronic form of all
comments in any one of our dockets by the name of the individual
submitting the comment (or signing the comment, if submitted on behalf
of an association, business, or labor union). Anyone may review DOT's
complete Privacy Act Statement in the Federal Register published on
April 11, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 70, Pages 19477-78).
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For questions about the program
discussed herein, contact Mr. Chung Eng, MUTCD Team Leader, FHWA Office
of Transportation Operations, (202) 366-8043 or via email at
email@example.com. For legal questions, please contact Mr. William
Winne, Office of the Chief Counsel, (202) 366-1397, or via email at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Office hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.,
e.t., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.
Electronic Access and Filing
You may submit or retrieve comments online through the Federal
eRulemaking portal at: http://www.regulations.gov. The Web site is
available 24 hours each day, 365 days each year. Please follow the
instructions. Electronic submission and retrieval help and guidelines
are available under the help section of the Web site. An electronic
copy of this document may also be downloaded from the Office of the
Federal Register's home page at: http://www.archives.gov and the
Government Printing Office's Web page at: http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara.
Purpose of This Notification
The FHWA is interested in examining how to provide a simpler,
streamlined MUTCD through restructuring the content into two separate
documents_one with material deemed critical to traffic control device
design, application or traffic safety that would be subject to
rulemaking, and one containing supplemental application information
that would not be subject to rulemaking. This action promotes a more
responsive and efficient government. It is consistent with the
requirements of Executive Order 13563, and in particular its
requirement for retrospective analysis of existing rules, with an
emphasis on streamlining its regulations. This action is also
consistent with Presidential Memorandum, Administrative Flexibility,
which calls for reducing burdens and promoting flexibility for State
and local governments.
The purpose of this document is to present a discussion of
potential formats for a restructured MUTCD as well as to provide
descriptions and examples of the types of material that could
potentially be moved from the MUTCD to the Applications Supplement,
including examples showing two restructuring options with text from
Chapter 2B of the 2009 MUTCD. The examples can be viewed at
www.regulations.gov under the docket number listed in the heading of
this document. The FHWA is seeking comments from all interested parties
to help the FHWA in further examining these issues and in evaluating
potential future alternative courses of action. Specifically, the FHWA
seeks input on the type of material to be included in the MUTCD and the
Applications Supplement, as well as the formats for both documents.
This document also includes a set of specific questions for which the
FHWA requests input. While there are specific questions presented on
aspects associated with restructuring the MUTCD, comments and input may
be offered on any part of this notification.
The MUTCD is incorporated by reference within Federal regulations
at 23 CFR part 655, approved by the FHWA, and recognized as the
national standard for traffic control devices used on all public roads.
The FHWA has received comments from a variety of parties expressing
concerns about the size and complexity in application of the MUTCD as
it has evolved over the decades. To address those issues, the FHWA is
exploring the possibility of separating the MUTCD into two documents.
Since its inception in 1935, the MUTCD has grown from slightly over
150 pages to more than 850 pages. The most significant expansion in the
number of pages in the MUTCD has occurred in the last three editions,
2000, 2003, and the 2009 Editions. The size and complexity of the MUTCD
has significantly increased, in large part because of an expansion of
the number of devices included in the MUTCD and the desire to provide
more specifics in conveying the intent of the language in order to
avoid uncertainty. Along with the expanded content, the layout of the
MUTCD has changed over the years to its current format with four
headings (Standard, Guidance, Option, and Support) and three font
styles (regular, bold, and italic). The four headings of Standard,
Guidance, Option, and Support are defined as:
1. Standard--a statement of required, mandatory, or specifically
prohibitive practice regarding a traffic control device.
2. Guidance--a statement of recommended, but not mandatory,
practice in typical situations.
3. Option--a statement of practice that is a permissive condition
and carries no requirement or recommendation.
4. Support--an informational statement that does not convey any
degree of mandate, recommendation, authorization, prohibition, or
The increase in the size and complexity of the MUTCD results in a
lengthy rulemaking process for incorporating changes (new devices,
clarifications, corrections, etc.). A larger and more complex MUTCD
also makes it more difficult to find material within the manual because
of the amount of information provided. In addition, some users of the
MUTCD have expressed concerns that due to the amount of detail
included, the MUTCD is becoming too prescriptive rather than allowing
engineering judgment to optimize the traffic control device decision
for a particular situation or location.
In response to the interest for a simpler, streamlined MUTCD, the
FHWA is requesting public comment on the option of splitting the
material in the MUTCD into two separate documents:
MUTCD--The MUTCD itself would be the document incorporated
by reference into the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) as the national
standard for all traffic control devices. The publication of this
document, and any subsequent updates, would be subject to the
rulemaking process. It could contain Standard statements, and
potentially Guidance statements that are considered to be critical to
traffic control device design, application, or traffic safety, as well
as Option statements that provide exceptions to these Standard and
Applications Supplement--The second document would be an
``applications supplement'' that would include recommendations and best
practices and would be a companion document to the MUTCD. Material from
the 2009 MUTCD that is not included in the next edition of the
restructured MUTCD would form the core of the companion document. It is
possible that the companion document would also contain useful
information brought in from other sources such as ``The Grade Crossing
Handbook'' and ``The Roundabout Guide.'' The companion document could
be updated whenever needed without requiring rulemaking to do so. The
Applications Supplement would not be incorporated by reference into the
CFR, and compliance with it would be encouraged, but not legally
The MUTCD and the initial edition of the Applications Supplement
would both be available on the MUTCD Web site in electronic format and
each document would include hotlinks to assist readers who use the
electronic versions of the MUTCD and the Applications Supplement in
navigating through the many cross-references that are contained within
both documents. Hotlinks to cross-referenced chapters, sections,
figures, and tables; pop-up definitions; links to external documents
and Web sites; and links to official interpretations would be made
available, similar to the current hotlinks version of the 2009 MUTCD
available on the Web site today.
Discussion of Restructuring
Because of the large audience with interest in the MUTCD, there are
numerous thoughts and opinions related to the type and amount of
information that should be retained in the MUTCD. The FHWA has given
initial consideration to the type of material to include in each
document, balancing the desire to retain material deemed critical to
traffic control device design, application or traffic safety in the
MUTCD, while moving supplemental application information to the
In addition to the efforts underway within the FHWA, the National
Cooperative Highway Research Program has initiated a parallel effort
(NCHRP Project 20-07/Task 323) to develop a long-range vision and
strategic plan for the MUTCD.\1\ The NCHRP effort is addressing many
different issues related to the future of the MUTCD. The NCHRP project
has developed a series of white papers on critical MUTCD issues and is
soliciting public comment on those white papers.\2\ Examples of white
paper topics include: The purpose of the MUTCD, the MUTCD target
audience, the appropriate level of detail for content, and options for
dividing the MUTCD into multiple documents. Readers are encouraged to
review the background and supplementary material related to the past,
present, and future of the MUTCD discussed in this research effort.
Although both the FHWA staff and the NCHRP research team are
coordinating their efforts, readers that have an interest in each
activity should submit comments to both this request for comments and
the NCHRP project Web site.
\1\ General information about the NCHRP Project 20-07/Task 323
can be viewed at the following Internet Web site: http://apps.trb.org/cmsfeed/TRBNetProjectDisplay.asp?ProjectID=3203.
\2\ The white papers and public comments are available on the
project Web site: http://mutcd.tamu.edu/.
The spectrum of ideas related to the amount of material to be
contained in the MUTCD and the Applications Supplement has led the FHWA
to develop two possible restructuring alternatives.
1. Option A would retain Standard statements and important Guidance
statements, along with associated Option statements in the MUTCD.
Support statements and stand-alone Option statements (those that are
not exceptions to the Standard and Guidance statements that were
retained in the MUTCD) would be moved from the MUTCD to the
2. Option B would move a greater amount of information from the
MUTCD to the Applications Supplement, retaining in the MUTCD only
Standard statements and any related Option statements that contain
exceptions to the Standard statements.
For both Options A and B, material from the 2009 MUTCD that is not
included in the next edition of the restructured MUTCD would form the
core of the Applications Supplement. To serve as a document that is
easily relatable to the MUTCD provisions on the same subject, the
Applications Supplement document would need to be written and organized
in a manner that makes it a cohesive stand-alone document that is fully
consistent with the MUTCD. Among the larger items that would likely be
moved to the Applications Supplement would be most of the figures
illustrating how to apply the provisions of the MUTCD, including all of
the Typical Applications in Chapter 6H, as well as most of the material
in chapters such as
4C, 6G, and 6I. The Applications Supplement could potentially be
expanded to include useful information brought in from other sources
and could be updated whenever needed without requiring rulemaking to do
The FHWA perceives several benefits to the development of a stand-
alone Applications Supplement. For example, the Applications Supplement
could include a chapter providing users with references on where to
find subject area information regarding traffic control treatment of a
particular roadway feature, such as roundabouts. Such a chapter would
list sections in the MUTCD, as well as sections in the Applications
Supplement, that users could reference for signing and markings at
roundabouts, including treatment of pedestrians at roundabouts and how
roundabouts relate to nearby at-grade railroad crossings. Another
example is that supplemental material regarding emerging and innovative
traffic control devices could be more easily disseminated and used by
engineers interested in their applications, without the delays
associated with updating the MUTCD.
Discussion of Material in Separate Documents
For the purpose of illustrating the separation of current 2009
MUTCD material into two documents, FHWA developed examples showing two
possible options for Sections 2B.01 through 2B.18 and Sections 2B.37
through 2B.42 of Chapter 2B Regulatory Signs, Barricades, and Gates.
These examples are available for review on www.regulations.gov under
the docket number listed in the heading of this document. In order to
make a comparison with the existing material in the 2009 MUTCD easier,
no improvements were made in these examples to the text, figures, or
tables of the existing 2009 MUTCD other than those directly related to
the development of the alternative format. Readers are encouraged to
view Options A and B, along with the comparison documents for each
Option, which describe the revisions that were made in the development
of each of the examples. The files illustrating Options A and B
formatted for the MUTCD and the Applications Supplement are also
embedded with hotlinks from the MUTCD to the Applications Supplement
and vice versa in order to illustrate how users would interact with
both documents. Where an ``AS'' in a blue box is placed to the left of
the section heading in the MUTCD, a direct link to the same section in
the Applications Supplement is available. Where an ``M'' in a blue box
is placed to the left of the section heading in the Applications
Supplement, a direct link to the same section in the MUTCD is
available. In addition, all of the chapter, section, figure, and table
titles, and all of the page numbers in the Applications Supplement have
a parenthetical suffix of ``(AS)'' immediately following the ``2B'' to
distinguish the Applications Supplement from the MUTCD. Readers can
access all of these files from the Docket. The following paragraphs
explain some of the differences between the content and formatting used
for Options A and B.
There are only Standard statements in Section 2B.14 of the 2009
MUTCD. Please note in the Option A Applications Supplement that the
title for this section is included in the Option A Applications
Supplement along with parenthetical text that informs the reader that
``there is no supplemental information for this section.'' Accordingly,
there is no ``AS'' in a blue box to the left of the Section 2B.14
heading in the MUTCD.
Because the Option B MUTCD is comprised almost exclusively of
Standard statements with only an occasional related Option paragraph,
showing Standard statements in bold font resulted in an awkward looking
document that was almost entirely bold-faced type. As a result, the
section titles were lost in the mix. Thus, regular font is used for the
Standard statements and italicized font is used to distinguish the few
Option paragraphs. Because italics are used for the Option statements
in the MUTCD, the Option statements in the Option B Applications
Supplement are also italicized for consistency. This resulted in a need
for doing something different than italics for the Guidance statements
in the Option B Applications Supplement. Because there are no Standard
statements in the Option B Applications Supplement, bold-faced type was
available for the Guidance statements to distinguish them from the
There are no Standard statements in Sections 2B.06 and 2B.07 of the
2009 MUTCD. In the Option B Applications Supplement these sections were
incorporated into Section 2B(AS).05 and the section titles were
included as subheadings because of the length of the consolidated
section. There are also no Standard statements in Section 2B.38 of the
2009 MUTCD. In the Option B Applications Supplement this section was
incorporated into Section 2B(AG).37 and the section title for Section
2B.37 was revised in both the Option B MUTCD and the Option B
Applications Supplement to reflect this consolidation of material. Even
though the only Standard statement in Section 2B.37 of the Option B
MUTCD relates to DO NOT ENTER signs, the reader is alerted to the fact
that WRONG WAY signs are included in the corresponding section of the
Option B Applications Supplement. Similarly, there are only Standard
statements in Section 2B.14 of the 2009 MUTCD. In the Option B
Applications Supplement the title for this section (which has been
renumbered as Section 2B(AS).12) is included in the Option B
Applications Supplement along with parenthetical text that informs the
reader that ``there is no supplemental information for this section.''
Accordingly, there is no ``AS'' in a blue box to the left of the
Section 2B.12 heading in the MUTCD.
For the purpose of this Request for Comments, it was not practical
for FHWA to develop examples for the entire MUTCD; however, the FHWA
has given some initial thought as to the separation of content in
several other parts of the manual. In addition to most of the support
paragraphs and stand-alone option paragraphs, following are examples of
other items from some of the chapters that could be moved from the
MUTCD to the Applications Supplement:
Sections that could be moved to the
MUTCD Part Applications Supplement
Part 4...................... Chapters 4A and 4B, Chapter 4C (with
Standard statements either reduced to
Guidance or moved to other places in Part
4), Section 4D.02, Section 4D.33, and
Figures 4D-1, 4D-2, 4D-6 through 4D-20,
4E-1, 4E-2, 4E-3, and 4E-4.
Part 6...................... Sections 6G, 6H, and 6I.
Part 8...................... Section 8A.06, and Figures 8B-5, 8B-6, 8B-
8, 8B-9, 8C-2, 8C-4 through 8C-10, and 8D-
Part 9...................... Figures 9B-5, 9B-6, 9B-7, 9B-8, 9C-1, 9C-
2, 9C-4, 9C-5, 9C-6, and 9C-8.
The FHWA requests input on each of the following questions. In
addition, comments and input may be offered on any part of this notice.
1. Regardless of the ultimate restructuring format chosen, would
you support separating the current material in the MUTCD into two
documents? Please explain your reasoning for supporting or opposing the
concept of having two documents.
2. Referring to the examples shown for Chapter 2B, should the
format of the MUTCD and the Applications Supplement remain consistent
between the two documents? For example, should the same headings, such
as ``Support'' and ``Option'' be used in the Applications Supplement?
Should the type of section, figure, and table numbering remain
consistent between the MUTCD and the Applications Supplement? Should
the sections in the Applications Supplement have a one-to-one
correspondence to the sections of the MUTCD, even if that means that
some sections of the Applications Supplement would either be skipped or
simply have a sentence that says something such as ``No additional
guidance is available for this section''?
3. Regarding the philosophy of the type of material to retain in
the MUTCD versus the Applications Supplement, does Option A move enough
material to the Applications Supplement, thus achieving the goal of a
streamlined MUTCD, or does Option B better achieve the intended result
while maintaining the appropriate balance to retain material deemed
critical to traffic control device design and road user safety in the
MUTCD? Please explain the reasoning for your response to this question.
4. How would restructuring the MUTCD affect the approval process of
the MUTCD in your State? If your State develops a supplement to the
MUTCD or creates its own State MUTCD that is in substantial conformance
with the National MUTCD, how would restructuring the National MUTCD
impact your organization?
5. Describe the use of the printed version of the MUTCD within your
agency compared to the electronic version. Which users prefer the
printed version and which users prefer the electronic version? Why?
6. In addition to providing hotlinks between the new MUTCD and the
Applications Supplement, would providing hotlinks in the Applications
Supplement to supplementary documents or additional resources be
helpful or more cumbersome for MUTCD users? Should the important
elements of the additional resources be incorporated into the
7. After the initial edition of the Applications Supplement is
developed by the FHWA as a part of the process of developing the next
edition of the MUTCD, should the FHWA continue to maintain and update
the Applications Supplement, or should some other organization or group
take on this responsibility? Please explain the reasoning for your
response to this question. If you feel that another organization should
be responsible for the Applications Supplement, please provide thoughts
on the appropriate organization and why.
8. Is there an advantage to the FHWA (or some other organization or
group) making revisions to the Applications Supplement without seeking
public comments and why? Should there be a structured process for
making revisions to the Applications Supplement? If yes, what should
this involve and who should be included in the process? How often
should this occur?
9. Should the FHWA consider other options for splitting MUTCD
content into separate documents? Please explain.
Authority: 23 U.S.C. 101(a), 104, 109(d), 114(a), 217, 315, and
402(a); 23 CFR 1.32; and, 49 CFR 1.85.
Issued on: December 20, 2012.
Victor M. Mendez,
[FR Doc. 2013-00373 Filed 1-10-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-22-P
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