Basic principles for evaluating traffic control devices are prescribed by the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways, commonly referred to as the MUTCD. The MUTCD, published by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), standardizes traffic control devices throughout the country to ensure that they mean the same to, and require the same actions by, all motorists anywhere in the country. An updated version of the MUTCD is due to be released in 2022.
Compliance with the MUTCD standards helps promote the safe, orderly, and efficient movement of traffic. As these standards are intended to obtain basic uniformity of traffic control devices, they should be followed consistently. Signs that do not conform to the MUTCD should not be installed.
The MUTCD is incorporated by reference in 23 CFR, Part 655, Subpart F and shall be recognized as the national standard for all traffic control devices installed on any street, highway, bikeway, or private road open to public travel. However, the requirement that the MUTCD be used on military installations is given in CFR Title 32 'National Defense', Part 634, Subpart D.
Joint Service Regulation (AR 55-80, OPNAVINST 11210.2, AFMAN 32-1017, MCO 11210.2D, and DLAR 4500.19) on the Department of Defense (DOD) Transportation Engineering Program identifies in Section 3-11 the Military’s Highway Safety Program requirements:
- Under General, "This section prescribes the policies and procedures related to DOD highway safety needs. It implements 23 USC 402, DODD 4510.11, DODD 4715.1, and DODI 6055.04."
- Under General, "This regulation applies to all military installations and activity sites that have streets and/or parking facilities, and a workforce of 1,000 or more personnel."
- Under Policies, "Installation commanders will develop and maintain their roadways to nationally accepted standards that provide a safe driving environment for all drivers and passengers."
- Under Traffic Control Device Plan, "This plan provides for the periodic review of existing traffic control devices and the systematic replacement of substandard and deteriorated devices. All installation traffic signals, signs, and pavement markings will be in substantial conformance to FHWA's Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways (MUTCD). Variances in the design and application of installation traffic control devices from the standards contained in MUTCD must be approved by MTMC (now TEA) and FHWA."
Other supporting regulations include:
DODD 4510.11 on DOD Transportation Engineering
DODD 4715.1 on Environmental Security (now DODD 4715.1E)
DODI 6055.04 on DOD Traffic Safety Program
DOD Supplement to the MUTCD (available on TEA’s website)
Some states have adopted the national MUTCD
verbatim, while others have either created a similar state-specific MUTCD
or simply written a state document to supplement the national MUTCD
. It is important that installations refer to the MUTCD webpage
to determine applicability by state as the state-specific guidelines must be followed by each installation.
In addition to the state-supplement, installations should also refer to the MUTCD. The Transportation Engineering Agency, (TEA), has provided this guidance for DOD-specific needs. Additionally, SDDCTEA has published Pamphlet 55-17, Better Military Traffic Engineering, Chapter 7 on Signs and Chapter 8 on Pavement Markings. These chapters of the pamphlet are intended to assist installations in conforming to the MUTCD by clarifying existing standards and providing guidelines tailored to military installations.