The Feds updated the national MUTCD in 2009. States have the choice of just adopting the Federal manual or they can adopt their own version (which has to be largely the same as the feds). If a state chooses to publish their own manual, they have two years to finalize there version after the feds come out with a new edition (hence Minnesota updated their version in December 2011).
The MUTCD is the book of standards that regulates the use of traffic control devices (signs, pavement markings, signals, etc) so drivers across the U.S. can drive anywhere and understand the traffic control devices – i.e. we want all stop signs to look the same because it makes driving easier and safer. Here's the Federal version and here's the Minnesota version.
Highlights of 2011 MN MUTCD Changes
I attended the NCITE luncheon today where Janelle Anderson (MnDOT Tort Claims & Traffic Standards Engineer) gave an overview of the big changes in the 2011 Minneosta manual (a lot of which were drivern by the changes to the 2009 Fed manual). She didn't have time to go over the 400+ changes, but she did give a great overvview. Here are some of my big takeaways -
- The manual applies to ALL roads that may be travelled by the public. So private property is now goverened by the manual. No more blue stop signs within private street developments. Huge gray area on this – What's a parking aisle and what is a public street? Janelle didn't have good guidance on this.
- Compliance date for getting the retro-reflectivity of signs and lane marking up to standards has been delayed. New devices need to be up to standards and each agency needs to have a plan in place by now for managing their inventory, BUT the federal mandate to change over signs has been softened. Getting signs up to date can happen through attrition, so it's not the huge budget hit many were fearing (including me).
- Street name signs – can't be all caps anymore. All new signs need to have street names capitolized (first letter upper, rest lower case).
- Lettering is bigger now to accommodate 20/40 vision. This is a change based on our aging population.
- All school related signs must be fluorescent yellow green.
- Added yield signs to discussion of when to install stop signs. Trying to encourage more yield signs. I'm a big fan of eliminating stop signs in neighborhoods – this is great.
- Any of the different signs can now be made fluorescent under the new manual. Not a fan of this. We're in an arms race to get the motorists attention. Eventually every road could feel like Times Square.
- Lane drops – need to use dots instead of short dashes on the pavement transition.
- New chapter on rumple and stripe strips.
- Flashing don't walk at signals – based on a walking speed of 3.5 feet/second instead of 4.0 feet/second.
- Anyone working within the public right-of-way is required to wear high visibility clothing.