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CFR-Title 23 655.601 through 655.603 and MUTCD

 

POINTS AND AUTHORITIES

 

Federal Law:

Source: http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/kno-faq.htm


What is the legal status of the MUTCD?


The MUTCD is adopted by reference in accordance with title 23, United States Code, Section 109(d) and Title 23, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 655.603, and is approved as the national standard for designing, applying, and planning traffic control devices.

Does this mean that all traffic control devices must comply with MUTCD standards?


Yes, all traffic control devices nationwide must conform to the MUTCD. There are no exceptions.

Section 1A.02 Principles of Traffic Control Devices (Current)


Support: This Manual contains the basic principles that govern the design and use of traffic control devices for all streets and highways open to public travel regardless of type or class or the public agency having jurisdiction. This Manual’s text specifies the restriction on the use of a device if it is intended for limited application or for a specific system. It is important that these principles be given primary consideration in the selection and application of each device.

Section 1A.02 Principles of Traffic Control Devices (Current)


Support: This Manual contains the basic principles that govern the design and use of traffic control devices for all streets and highways open to public travel regardless of type or class or the public agency having jurisdiction. This Manual’s text specifies the restriction on the use of a device if it is intended for limited application or for a specific system. It is important that these principles be given primary consideration in the selection and application of each device.

 

MUTCD Section 1A.07 Responsibility for Traffic Control Devices (Current)


Standard:
  The responsibility for the design, placement, operation, maintenance, and uniformity of traffic control devices shall rest with the public agency or the official having jurisdiction. 23 CFR 655.603 adopts the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices as the national standard for all traffic control devices installed on any street, highway, or bikeway open to public travel. When a State or other Federal agency manual or supplement is required, they shall be in substantial conformance with the national Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. 23 CFR 655.603 also states that traffic control devices on all streets and highways open to public travel in each State shall be in substantial conformance with standards issued or endorsed by the Federal Highway Administrator.


Support:   "(a)The [State Highway Agency] shall adopt a manual and specification for a uniform system of traffic control devices consistent with the provisions of this code for use upon highways within this State. Such uniform system shall correlate with and so far as possible conform to the system set forth in the most recent edition of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways, and other standards issued or endorsed by the Federal Highway Administrator."
(required language from MUTCD)

 

Speed Limit and engineering and traffic investigation:

 

1988 Edition of MUTCD:  MUTCD: 2B–10 Speed Limit Sign, (R2–1)

"The Speed Limit sign shall display the limit established by law, or by regulation, after an engineering and traffic investigation has been made in accordance with established traffic engineering practices. The speed limits shown shall be in multiples of 5 miles per hour."

Millennium Edition of MUTCD (Current): Section 2B.11 Speed Limit Sign (R2–1)


Standard:
  "After an engineering study has been made in accordance with established traffic engineering practices, the Speed Limit (R2–1) sign shall display the limit established by law, ordinance, regulation, or as adopted by the authorized agency. The speed limits shown shall be in multiples of 10 km/h (5 mph)."

 

MUTCD definition of terms (Current)

 
Engineering Study –"The comprehensive analysis and evaluation of available pertinent information, and the application of appropriate principles, Standards, Guidance, and practices as contained in this Manual and other sources, for the purpose of deciding upon the applicability, design, operation, or installation of a traffic control device. An engineering study shall be performed by an engineer, or by an individual working under the supervision of an engineer, through the application of procedures and criteria established by the engineer. An engineering study shall be documented."

 

Comment: As the 2 MUTCD sections show, the terms “Investigation” and “Study” are used synonymously. And an engineering study SHALL be the method used to establish the numeric value of a posted limit, and it is a written document. A posted limit established contrary to state and federal mandates is clearly without authority, illegal. 

 

To Determine the correct enforceable Speed Limit the following criteria must be met.

 

MUTCD 2B–10, second paragraph (1988 edition)


 “In order to determine the proper numerical value for a speed zone on the basis of an engineering and traffic investigation the following factors should be considered:


1. Road surface characteristics, shoulder condition, grade, alignment and sight distance.
2. The 85–percentile speed and pace speed.
3. Roadside development and Culture, and roadside friction.
4. Safe speed for curves or hazardous locations within the zone.
5. Parking practices and pedestrian activity.
6. Reported accident experience for a recent 12 month period.

 

FHWA (Federal Highway Administration) (1985, reaffirmed 1996)

 
Report No. FHWA/RD–85/096 Technical Summary, “Synthesis of Speed Zoning Practice” which states:
“Based on the best available evidence, the speed limit should be set at the speed driven by 85 to 90 percent of the free–moving vehicles rounded up to the next 5 mph increment. This method results in speed limits that are not only acceptable to a majority of the motorist, but also fall within the speed range where accident risk is lowest. Allowing a 5 mph tolerance, enforcement would be targeted at drivers who are clearly at risk."


"No other factors need to be considered since they are reflected in the drivers speed choice. If there are unusual hazards not readily apparent to drivers, then a warning sign could be installed giving the nature of the hazard and, if necessary, supplemented with a realistic advisory speed."

 

Institute Of Transportation Engineers (ITE); (1991)


ITE Committee 4M-25, Speed Zone Guidelines:
“Thus, the overriding basis (from a safety perspective) for speed zoning should be that the creation of the zone, and the speed limit posted, results in an increase in the percentage of motorists driving at or near the 85th percentile speed.”
      “A third rationale is the need for consistency between the speed limit and other traffic control devices. Signal timing and sight distance requirements, for example, are based on the prevailing speed. If these values are based on a speed limit that does not reflect the prevailing speed of traffic, safety may be compromised.”
      “2. The speed limit within a speed zone shall be set at the nearest 5 mph increment to the 85th percentile of free flowing traffic or the upper limit of the pace of the 10 mph pace.” “In no case should the speed limit be set below the 67th percentile speed of free flowing traffic.”

 

POINTS: