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Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) arrows logo
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Traffic control devices (TCDs) are very critical for the safe and efficient transportation of people and goods. The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), by setting minimum standards and providing guidance, ensures uniformity of traffic control devices across the nation. The use of uniform TCDs (messages, locations, sizes, shapes, and colors) helps reduce crashes and congestion, and improves the efficiency of the surface transportation system. Uniformity also helps reduce the cost of TCDs through standardization. The information contained in the MUTCD is the result of years of practical experience, research, and/or the MUTCD experimentation process. This effort ensures that TCDs are visible, recognizable, understandable, and necessary. The MUTCD is a dynamic document that changes with time to address contemporary safety and operational issues.

Key Messages:

  • The MUTCD contains the national standards governing all traffic control devices. All public agencies and owners of private roads open to public travel across the nation rely on the MUTCD to bring uniformity to the roadway. The MUTCD plays a critical role in improving safety and mobility of all road users.
  • The MUTCD is the law governing all traffic control devices. Non-compliance with the MUTCD ultimately can result in the loss of federal-aid funds as well as in a significant increase in tort liability.
  • Uniformity of traffic control devices is critical in highway safety and mobility, as well as cutting capital and maintenance costs of TCDs for public agencies and manufacturers.
  • The FHWA has established a sound process to incorporate new devices and applications in the MUTCD. The process involves the Federal Register rulemaking activity, which encourages public involvement. Any interested person or organization may provide input to the rulemaking activity by submitting comments to the docket.
  • The process encourages innovation and flexibility while maintaining uniformity.
  • The success of the MUTCD depends on nationwide acceptance and application of the MUTCD, as well as extensive participation by the practitioners in developing and evaluating the content of the MUTCD.
  • Input from practitioners and all other stakeholders is critical in keeping the MUTCD current and relevant.


The MUTCD audience includes, but is not limited to, State and local highway agencies, public officials, owners of private roads open to public travel, the insurance industry, law enforcement agencies, incident management personnel, maintenance personnel, academic institutions, private industry, and planning, construction, and engineering organizations.