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FHWA Releases New Traffic Control Device Manual with Updates to Improve Safety for Pedestrians, Bicyclists, and All Road Users

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Updated MUTCD also encourages new innovations to improve travel and looks toward transportation infrastructure of the future  

WASHINGTON – The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) today announced the 11th edition of the “Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways,” known as the MUTCD. The manual, last updated edition in 2009, is the national standard for traffic signs, signals, and pavement markings to ensure a uniform and predictable environment for people who walk, bike, and drive. It is an important guide used every day by transportation professionals for roadway safety, and the 11th edition incorporates extensive input from members of the public. 

“The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices is a vitally important guidebook that affects safety on countless roads around the country,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “With this long-awaited update to the MUTCD, we are helping our state and local partners make it safer to walk, bike, and drive, and embracing new technologies with the potential to make our transportation system safer and more efficient.”

“The MUTCD is an essential guide to help state and local transportation practitioners create safe and efficient networks for everyone who drives, walks, bikes or rolls,” said U.S. Transportation Deputy Secretary Polly Trottenberg. “We look forward to ongoing engagement and partnership with the transportation community so that the MUTCD becomes a living document which enables communities to embrace the designs and technologies that best serve their needs.”

“It has been over a decade since the MUTCD was last updated and a lot has changed in that time,” said Federal Highway Administrator Shailen Bhatt. “The new MUTCD gives greater consideration to all road users, who deserve to be safe when traveling on our streets and roads. It will also help improve the public’s travel experience whether driving on an Interstate or crossing the street in cities and towns across America.”

As part of the process of updating the 11th edition, the FHWA sought and incorporated input from the public nationwide, including state and local traffic engineers, traffic control device technicians, and other stakeholders. In the coming months, FHWA will host a series of public webinars, post online videos, and conduct other outreach opportunities to help stakeholders make the most of the latest updates. 

The MUTCD 11th edition reflects changes in how Americans travel since the last update of the manual over a decade ago. It also streamlines processes and makes permanent a number of traffic control device applications that previously required special approval. The new MUTCD includes pedestrian safety enhancements such as the rectangular rapid-flashing beacon and crosswalk marking patterns that are proven to be more visible. The updated MUTCD [supports USDOT’s National Roadway Safety Strategy, which adopts a multi-layered approach with the ambitious goal of zero deaths on the nation’s roads.

By requiring updates to the MUTCD every four years, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will also ensure that traffic control device standards and guidelines are responsive to the needs of the traveling public, and to new technologies.   
The MUTCD does not restrict communities from designing walkable, transit-oriented roadways or high-speed highways as that community determines appropriate to serve its needs.  Rather, the MUTCD is about directly communicating with the road user, in an effective manner, about how the roadway is intended to be used in the context and constraints of its physical space, design features, and surrounding environment. If a community decides to provide bike lanes or a designated pedestrian area separated from vehicles, the MUTCD gives the community the traffic control devices to communicate that to all road users safely and effectively.

FHWA is developing new and updated online tools like an improved database of official rulings, guidelines for developing experimentation plans, and a series of educational videos about the MUTCD and how its content is developed. 

Please see here for the MUTCD 11th edition