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Official MUTCD Interpretations Issued by FHWA

What is an Official MUTCD Interpretation? Section 1A.10 of the 2009 edition of the MUTCD provides for official interpretations of the MUTCD to be issued by FHWA when unique situations arise for device applications that might require interpretation or clarification of the Manual. An interpretation includes a consideration of the application and operation of standard traffic control devices, official meanings of standard traffic control devices, or the variations from standard device designs.

Requesting an Official Interpretation: Any jurisdiction, company, or individual that wishes to obtain an Official Interpretation of an MUTCD provision from FHWA should submit a written request to the FHWA, Director of the Office of Transportation Operations. The request should contain the following information:

  1. A concise statement of the interpretation being sought;
  2. A description of the condition that provoked the need for an interpretation;
  3. Any illustration that would be helpful to understand the request; and
  4. Any supporting research data that is pertinent to the item to be interpreted.

The request should be sent electronically as an attachment (PDF or Word Document) to an e-mail to: MUTCDofficialrequest@dot.gov. [Note: if e-mail is not possible, the letter may be sent via postal mail or delivery service to the Federal Highway Administration at 1200 New Jersey Avenue, S.E., HOTO-1, Washington, DC 20590.

FHWA responds to each request for an interpretation with a formal written reply. Interpretations and other FHWA MUTCD related correspondence for the past two years may be viewed online via the Web site of the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA) at http://www.atssa.com/page.ww?section=Resources&name=Interpretation+Letters. The Official Rulings Database on the MUTCD Web site also contains information on older interpretations.

What Happens After an Official Interpretation is Issued? After an Official Interpretation is issued, FHWA considers developing proposed text modifications for inclusion in a future rulemaking action to revise the MUTCD. The proposed revised MUTCD text revisions, if adopted via rulemaking, would reflect the interpretation and would make the applicable MUTCD text or figures more clear, thus avoiding further doubts about the issue.

What Legal Status Do Interpretations Have? FHWA is often asked about the legal status of Official Interpretations. For example, do the interpretations officially modify what is in the current edition of the MUTCD? Must all agencies change their design policies and/or existing devices in the field to comply with provisions of an Official Interpretation that was requested by one particular agency or individual?

Until a formal rulemaking is completed (by Final Rule after public comment) and the MUTCD is officially revised to reflect the content of the interpretation, an Official Interpretation should be considered as FHWA policy guidance or FHWA's recommendation of appropriate or best practice. Thus, agencies are encouraged to follow guidance given in an interpretation for any new designs or projects, but there is no legal requirement to do so. Interpretations create no requirement to modify or replace existing devices in the field. Compliance dates for such revisions or replacements are established in conjunction with rulemakings on MUTCD revisions.

Some interpretations clarify that a particular device design or application meets the intent of the MUTCD or is in compliance with the MUTCD, even though the MUTCD text does not specifically say so. An Official Interpretation of this type provides agencies the ability to use or continue using that particular device or application, at their option, but only in the manner specified in the interpretation.

Most Recent Official Interpretations: As a convenience to MUTCD users, the several most recent Official Interpretations issued by FHWA for each Part of the MUTCD are listed below, with links for each to the FHWA interpretation document and the request that generated the interpretation. Most, but not all, of the Official Interpretations that are identified as "issued under the 2003 MUTCD" have been superceded by the adopted content of the 2009 MUTCD. They are provided here for historical reference.

Part 1 - General

Issued Under 2009 MUTCD

  • April 8, 2016 — 1(09)-5 (I) - Applicability of Compliance Dates to Preferential Lane Signing (HTML, PDF 607KB)
  • October 1, 2010 — 1(09)-1 (I) - Definition of Standard (HTML, PDF 133KB)

Issued Under 2003 MUTCD

  • August 17, 2004 — 1-44(I) - Applicability of MUTCD to Private Property (HTML, DOC 24KB)
  • April 9, 2004 — 1-41(I) - Clarification of Conformance with the MUTCD (HTML, PDF 559KB)
  • October 16, 2003 — 1-40(I) - Status of Reference Documents in the MUTCD (HTML, DOC 30KB, HTML Incoming, PDF Incoming 1.3MB)

Part 2 - Signs

Issued Under 2009 MUTCD

  • May 28, 2015 — 2(09)-111 (I) - International Symbol of Accessibility (HTML, PDF 997KB)
  • July 21, 2014 — 2(09)-86 (I) - Yield Here To (Stop Here For) Pedestrians Signs (R1-5 Series) (HTML, PDF 758KB)
  • October 22, 2013 — 2(09)-79 (I) - Radar Speed Feedback Signs (HTML, PDF 386KB)
  • November 20, 2013 — 2(09)-78 (I) - Signing for Priced Managed Lane without Transponder Requirement (HTML, PDF 2.9MB)
  • November 28, 2012 — 2(09)-62 (I) - Use of Signal Ahead Signs for Ramp Metering (HTML, PDF 455KB)
  • November 14, 2012 — 2(09)-61 (I) - Mandatory Movement Lane Control Signs (HTML, PDF 673KB)
  • September 18, 2012 — 2(09)-43 (I) - Retroreflectivity Requirements for Traffic Signal Actuation Signs (HTML, PDF 629KB)
  • July 19, 2012 — 2(09)-42 (I) - Design of Named Scenic Byway Signs (HTML, PDF 46KB)
  • June 4, 2012 — 2(09)-40 (I) - R1-5 with Schoolchildren Symbol (HTML, PDF 48KB)
  • June 4, 2012 — 2(09)-39 (I) - Motorcycle Symbol Warning Sign (HTML, PDF 78KB)
  • March 6, 2012 — 2(09)-28 (I) - Curve Sign for 30 mph Speed Limit (HTML, PDF 37KB)
  • January 3, 2012 — 2(09)-27 (I) - Motorcycle Look Warning Sign (HTML, PDF 108KB)
  • September 22, 2011 — 2(09)-17 (I) - Determination of Speed Differential for Exit Ramps (HTML, PDF 96KB)
  • October 22, 2010 — 2(09)-5 (I) - Overhead Arrow-per-Lane Sign Requirements for Major Interchanges and Reconstructed Locations—Utah (HTML, PDF 103KB)
  • July 15, 2010 — 2(09)-3 (I) - Legend Color for Electronic-Display Changeable Message Signs (HTML, PDF 50KB)
  • June 2, 2010 — 2(09)-2 (I) - Determination of Speed Differential for Curve Warning Signs and Plaques (HTML, PDF 92KB)

Issued Under 2003 MUTCD

  • December 3, 2009 — 2-670(I) - Meaning of Mandatory Left-Turn Sign with Respect to U-Turns (HTML, PDF 61KB)
  • January 26, 2009 — 2-660(I) - Sign Kiosks for Residential Subdivisions (HTML, PDF 830KB)
  • August 22, 2008 — 2-646(I) - Pictograph Use on Guide Signs (HTML, PDF 197KB)
  • January 31, 2008 — 2-638(I) - Color of Light Emitting Diodes (HTML, PDF 48KB)
  • November 14, 2007 — 2-635(I) - When Pedestrians Are Present (HTML, PDF 64KB)
  • June 13, 2007 — 2-621(Intr.) - Fasten Seat Belt Sign Located Beneath a STOP Sign (HTML, PDF 47KB)
  • November 30, 2006 — 2-603(I) - Letter Size and Design of Street Name Signs (HTML, DOC 206KB)
  • October 2, 2006 — 2-599(I) - Commemorative Signs on Multi-Routes (HTML, DOC 134KB)
  • September 15, 2005 — 2-569(I) - Political Jurisdiction Logos on Guide Signs (HTML, PDF 500KB)
  • July 27, 2005 — 2-566(I) - Combination Use of the W11-2 Pedestrian Sign with the R1-5 and R1-6 Pedestrian Signs (HTML, PDF 478KB)
  • July 27, 2005 — 2-565(I) - Use of Pictographs on Interstate Guide Signs (HTML, PDF 241KB)
  • May 25, 2005 — 2-564(I) - Orientation of Airport Symbol (HTML, PDF 314KB)
  • April 27, 2005 — 2-563(I) - Pedestrian Flags for Crosswalks (Not a TCD) (HTML, PDF 3MB)
  • February 9, 2005 — 2-558(I) - Move Over Sign (HTML, PDF 425KB)
  • September 15, 2004 — 2-554(I) - No Parking-Limited Area or Zone (HTML)
  • May 17, 2004 — 2-551(I) - CMS Display of Travel Time (HTML, PDF 1.3MB
  • April 2, 2004 — 2-547(I) - Relationship Between Breakaway & Crashworthy (HTML, DOC 186KB)
  • April 9, 2004 — 2-545(I) - Use of Folding Stop Signs for Traffic Signal Outages (HTML, PDF 294KB)
  • March 1, 2004 — 2-540(I) - Use of Military Decals on Guide Signs (HTML)

Part 3 - Markings

Issued Under 2009 MUTCD

  • August 15, 2013 — 3(09)-24 (I) - Application of Colored Pavement (HTML, PDF 2.8MB)
  • August 24, 2012 — 3(09)-17 (I) - Textured Pavement Between Crosswalks (HTML, PDF 87KB)
  • May 3, 2011 — 3(09)-8 (I) - Colored Pavement Treatments in Crosswalks (HTML, PDF 93KB)
  • March 23, 2011 — 3(09)-6 (I) - Word and Symbol Markings – Stencil Gaps (HTML, PDF 72KB)

Issued Under 2003 MUTCD

  • November 17, 2009 — 3-232(I) - Markings for Red Light Violations (HTML, DOC 2.7MB)
  • July 10, 2009 — 3-230(I) - Illuminated RPMs (HTML, PDF 644KB)
  • August 25, 2008 — 3-223(I) - Channelizing Lines (HTML, PDF 128KB)
  • February 22, 2008 — 3-218(I) - Color of Delineators vs. Object Markers (HTML, PDF 49KB)
  • January 26, 2007 — 3-200(I) - Dilemma Zone Pavement Markings (HTML, PDF 51KB))
  • January 10, 2007 — 3-201(I) - Stop Lines for Yield Conditions (HTML, DOC 200KB)
  • July 19, 2006 — 3-196(I) - Splatter Markings (HTML, DOC 194KB)
  • June 2, 2005 — 3-179(I) - Pavement Markings Alphabets (HTML, PDF 543KB)
  • April 27, 2005 — 3-178(I) - Retroreflective Colored Pavement - Additional Clarification (HTML, PDF 2.6MB)
  • January 21, 2005 — 3-176(I) - Use of LED Devices as Raised Pavement Markers (HTML)
  • January 12, 2005 — 3-175(I) - Section 3B.17 Warning Signs for Nonintersection Crosswalks (HTML, PDF 4.2MB)
  • December 23, 2004 — 3-174(I) - Continuous Line Segment Determination (HTML, PDF 299KB)

Part 4 - Highway Traffic Signals

Issued Under 2009 MUTCD

  • March 28, 2016 4(09)-58 (I) Placement of RRFB Units above Sign (HTML, PDF 580KB)
  • July 25, 2014 — 4(09)-41 (I) - Additional Flash Pattern for RRFBs (HTML, PDF 738KB)
  • June 18, 2014 — 4(09)-40 (I) - Audible Countdown Pedestrian Signals (HTML, PDF 771KB)
  • October 22, 2013 — 4(09)-38 (I) - RRFB Flashing Extensions and Delays (HTML, PDF 731KB)
  • October 9, 2013 — 4(09)-37 (I) - Definition of Dimming (HTML, PDF 627KB)
  • March 21, 2013 — 4(09)-32 (I) - Coordinated Operation of a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon (HTML, PDF 658KB)
  • February 13, 2013 — 4(09)-29 (I) - Required Number of Ramp Control Signal Faces (HTML, PDF 676KB)
  • January 25, 2013 — 4(09)-28 (I) - Dimming of Flashing Beacons during Daytime Conditions (HTML, PDF 672KB)
  • January 25, 2013 — 4(09)-26 (I) - Passive Activation of Locator Tones at Accessible Pedestrian Signals (HTML, PDF 682KB)
  • November 19, 2012 — 4(09)-25 (I) - Application of the Pedestrian Volume Warrant on Divided Roadways (HTML, PDF 794KB)
  • September 27, 2012 — 4(09)-24 (I) - Dimming of RRFBs during Daytime Hours (HTML, PDF 496KB)
  • August 8, 2012 — 4(09)-22 (I) - Flashing Pattern for Existing RRFBs (HTML, PDF 42KB)
  • June 13, 2012 — 4(09)-21 (I) - Clarification of RRFB Flashing Pattern (HTML, PDF 3MB)
  • January 9, 2012 — 4(09)-17 (I) - Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon (RRFB) Light Intensity (HTML, PDF 67KB)
  • December 12, 2011 — 4(09)-15 (I) - Variable Mode Left-Turn Display (Shared Lane) (HTML, PDF 106KB)
  • August 8, 2011 — 4(09)-14 (I) - Red Clearance Interval in Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon Sequence (HTML, PDF 78KB)
  • June 29, 2011 — 4(09)-11 (I) - Flashing Beacons Maximum Mounting Height (HTML, PDF 82KB)
  • May 26, 2011 — 4(09)-10 (I) - Conflict Monitoring of Temporary and Portable Signals (HTML, PDF 102KB)
  • February 8, 2011 — 4(09)-7(I) - Size of Flashing Beacons (HTML, PDF 93KB, PDF Incoming 48KB)
  • January 5, 2011 — 4(09)-6(I) - Freeway Entrance Ramp Control Signals (HTML, PDF 96KB)
  • August 12, 2010 — 4(09)-5(I) - RRFB Use with W11-15 Sign (HTML, PDF 49KB)
  • August 3, 2010 — 4(09)-4(I) - RRFB Flash Pattern (HTML, PDF 78KB)
  • July 30, 2010 — 4(09)-3(I) - APS with Exclusive Pedestrian Phase (HTML, PDF 100KB)
  • July 21, 2010 — 4(09)-2(I) - Hybrid Beacons Adjacent to Grade Crossings (HTML, PDF 169KB)
  • February 22, 2010 — 4(09)-001(I) - Covering Signals Out of Service (HTML, PDF 81KB)

Issued Under 2003 MUTCD

  • December 9, 2009 — 4-376(I) - RRFB Overhead Mounting (HTML, PDF 52KB)
  • March 5, 2009 — 4-358(I) - Lateral Spacing of Supplemental Signal Faces (HTML, PDF 65KB)
  • February 19, 2009 — 4-357(I) - Red Light Cameras (HTML, PDF 81KB)
  • August 18, 2008 — 4-346(I) - 70 Percent Factor for Warrants (HTML, PDF 94KB)
  • January 26, 2007 — 4-320(I) - Steady Yellow Arrow After Flashing Yellow Arrow (HTML, PDF 44KB)
  • August 23, 2006 — 4-311(I) - Strobe Lights for Flashing Beacons (HTML)
  • February 3, 2006 — 4-303(I) - Overlaid Pedestrian Signal Symbols (HTML, PDF 126KB)
  • October 19, 2005 — 4-297(I) - Number of Signal Faces for Through Movements (HTML, DOC 46KB)
  • September 30, 2005 — 4-294(I) - Ramp Metering Signals for Staggered Release (HTML, PDF 588KB)
  • September 29, 2005 — 4-293(I) - APS Pushbutton Locations (HTML, PDF 3.7MB)
  • April 27, 2005 — 4-288(I) - Temporary Signal versus Seasonal Shutdown (HTML, PDF 878KB)
  • November 4, 2004 — 4-285(I) - Pedestrian Activation of Signal Operation (HTML, PDF 769KB)
  • June 3, 2004 — 4-269(I) - Pedestrian Activation of Warning Beacons (HTML, PDF 592KB)

Part 5 - Low Volume Rural Roads

Issued Under 2009 MUTCD

  • August 19, 2010 — 5(09)-1 (I) - Minimum Sign Sizes on Low-Volume Roads (HTML, PDF 38KB)

Part 6 - Temporary Traffic Control

Issued Under 2009 MUTCD

  • October 1, 2015 — 6(09)-36 (I) - Warning Lights on 36-inch Cones (HTML, PDF 667KB)
  • December 4, 2012 — 6(09)-18 (I) - Use of a Sequential or Flashing Arrow Board Display on a PCMS (HTML, PDF 635KB)
  • September 20, 2012 — 6(09)-16 (I) - Use of STOP/SLOW Paddle by Uniformed Law Enforcement Officers (HTML, PDF 657KB)
  • September 19, 2012 — 6(09)-15 (I) - Clarification of Interpretation 6(09)-5 (HTML, PDF 758KB)
  • August 8, 2012 — 6(09)-014 (I) - Clarification of Section 6F.72 (HTML, PDF 35KB)
  • May 1, 2012 — 6(09)-013 (I) - Use of a Circular Sign Substrate for a STOP/SLOW Paddle (HTML, PDF 43KB)
  • February 1, 2012 — 6(09)-012 (I) - Use of ANSI/ISEA 207-2011 High-Visibility Safety Apparel (HTML, PDF 82KB)
  • January 3, 2012 — 6(09)-11 (I) - Use of Manufacturer's Names and Company Logos on Channelizing Devices (HTML, PDF 51KB)
  • June 1, 2011 — 6(09)-7 (I) - Operation of Temporary Traffic Control Signals at Haul Road Crossings (HTML, PDF 73KB)
  • August 31, 2010 — 6(09)-5 (I) - Use of Pilot Car with Temporary Traffic Control Signals (HTML, PDF 77KB)
  • May 20, 2010 — 6(09)-004 (I) - Use of ANSI/ISEA 107-2010 High-Visibility Safety Apparel (HTML, PDF 77KB)
  • April 7, 2010 — 6(09)-003 (I) - Non-Cylindrical Tubular Markers (HTML, PDF 58KB)
  • April 1, 2010 — 6(09)-002 (I) - High-Visibility Apparel for Delivery Personnel (HTML, PDF 75KB)
  • March 10, 2010 — 6(09)-001(I) - Color of Flagger's Flag (HTML, PDF 43KB)

Issued Under 2003 MUTCD

  • October 14, 2009 — 6-227(I) - Use of the Spin Alert Product (HTML, PDF 47KB)
  • April 8, 2009 — 6-225(I) - Use of ONE LANE ROAD AHEAD Signs in TTC Zones (HTML, PDF 292KB)
  • December 4, 2008 — 6-223(I) - Daytime Use of Non-retroreflective Signs in TTC Zones (HTML, PDF 2MB)
  • August 30, 2007 — 6-219(I) - Interim Approval List of Three Automated Flagger Assistance Devices (HTML, PDF 45KB)
  • February 3, 2005 — 6-203(I) - Use and Design of Merging Tapers for Lane Closures on Multi-Lane Non-Access Highways (HTML, PDF 30KB)
  • September 22, 2004 — 6-200(I) - Flagger Sign (W20-7, W20-7a) (HTML, PDF 436KB)
  • April 2, 2004 — 6-198(I) - Application of Downstream Tapers and Termination Areas in TTC Zones (HTML, PDF 936KB)

Part 7 - School Areas

Issued Under 2009 MUTCD

  • August 17, 2010 — 7(09)-3 (I) - Higher Fines Signs and Plaques in School Areas (HTML, PDF 67KB)

Issued Under 2003 MUTCD

  • April 4, 2005 — 7-67(I) - Safety Apparel for Student Patrols (HTML, PDF 670KB)
  • September 6, 2004 — 7-65(I) - In-Street Pedestrian Sign Color & Symbol (HTML, PDF 624KB)
  • July 3, 2004 — 7-64(I) - In-Street Pedestrian Crossing Signs (R1-6, R1-6a) and Yield Here for Pedestrians Signs (R1-5, R1-5a) Used at School Crossings (HTML, PDF 2.2MB)

Part 8 - Highway-Rail Grade Crossings

Issued Under 2009 MUTCD

  • March 9, 2016 — 8(09)-21 (I) - Use of Tubular Markers at Grade Crossings (HTML, PDF 828KB)
  • November 5, 2014 — 8(09)-19 (I) - Positioning of Signal Faces at Pre-Signals (HTML, PDF 64KB)
  • April 8, 2011 — 8(09)-7 (I) - Size of YIELD and STOP Signs at Grade Crossings (HTML, PDF 202KB)
  • August 24, 2010 — 8(09)-3 (I) - Use of Single Gate Mechanisms at Grade Crossings (HTML, PDF 56KB)
  • August 17, 2010 — 8(09)-2 (I) - Compliance Date for Vertical Stripes on RR Gates (HTML, PDF 63KB)
  • March 10, 2010 — 8(09)-001(I) - Width of Retroreflective Strip on Round Support (HTML, PDF 45KB)

Issued Under 2003 MUTCD for Part 8

  • October 27, 2004 — 8-69(I) - Traffic Gates for Busway Crossing (HTML, PDF 357KB)
  • August 29, 2003 — 8-66(I) - Traffic Gates on Public Streets (HTML, DOC 24KB, PDF Incoming Letter 10.9MB)

Issued Under 2003 MUTCD for Part 10

  • October 6, 2006 — 10-66(I) - Light Rail Transit (LRT) Signals for Bus Queue Jumper Lane (HTML, DOC 201KB)
  • October 6, 2004 — 10-61(I) - Crossbuck at LRT Grade Crossings (HTML, PDF 1.3MB)
  • April 16, 2003 — 10-59(I) - Light Rail Transit Signals for Bus Rapid Transit System Lanes (HTML, DOC 23KB)

Part 9 - Bicycle Facilities

Issued Under 2009 MUTCD

  • January 29, 2015 — 9(09)-74 (I) - Decimal Distances on Bicycle Destination Guide Signing (HTML, PDF 599KB)
  • April 18, 2014 — 9(09)-50 (I) - Pavement Markings for Designated Bicycle Routes (HTML, PDF 628KB)
  • February 12, 2014 — 9(09)-47 (I) - Clarification of the Interim Approval for the Optional Use of a Bicycle Signal Face (IA-16) (HTML, PDF 1.3MB)
  • December 26, 2012 — 9(09)-39 (I) - Installation of Advance Turn and Directional Assemblies for Bike Route Signs (HTML, PDF 706KB)
  • July 29, 2011 — 9(09)-20 (I) - Modified Bicycle Destination Signs (HTML, PDF 80KB)
  • May 11, 2011 — 9(09)-19 (I) - Use of R4-11 Sign on Roads with Speed Limits above 35 mph (HTML, PDF 35KB)

Issued Under 2003 MUTCD

  • May 22, 2009 — 9-116(I) - Meaning of No Bicycles (R5-6) Symbol Sign (HTML, PDF 118KB)
  • May 25, 2004 — 9-75(I) - Bike Path Use Regulations (HTML, PDF 1.2MB)

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