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Interpretation Letter 2(09)-39 (I) - Motorcycle Symbol Warning Sign

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U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration

1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE.
Washington, D.C. 20590

June 4, 2012

In Reply Refer To: HOTO-1

Kris Olivera
BikersPost Inc.
North Port, FL 34288

Dear Mr. Olivera:

Thank you for your letter requesting an official interpretation concerning a proposed Motorcycle warning sign.

It is our official interpretation that the proposed sign, referred to in your request as the "Moto-Man" sign, does not comply with the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways (MUTCD). The MUTCD requires that all symbols be unmistakably similar to the adopted symbol signs as shown in the Standard Highway Signs and Markings publication. The sign you are proposing does not meet this requirement.

Further, the MUTCD does not contain an approved symbol for use in a motorcycle primary warning sign. All new symbols must undergo extensive human factors testing for legibility and comprehension. The MUTCD does contain the W8-15P Motorcycle Warning Plaque, but this plaque is specified only for mounting above or below the GROOVED PAVEMENT (W8-15) or METAL BRIDGE DECK (W8-16) sign to supplement those signs to warn motorcyclists of a roadway hazard and not to warn drivers of increased motorcycle activity. Since the MUTCD does not contain a specific warning sign to indicate the presence of motorcycle traffic, Section 2A.06 of the 2009 edition of the MUTCD provides the Option to State and local agencies to develop word legend signs for conditions that are otherwise not addressed in the MUTCD where roadway conditions make it necessary to provide road users with additional regulatory, warning, or guidance information. Such word message signs may be used without the need for experimentation. If there is a roadway situation causing a hazard due to increased motorcycle traffic or motorcycle incidents that would not be readily apparent to a driver, a word message warning sign would be allowed under the referenced provision.

If a motorcycle warning symbol is desired, the MUTCD has a process to evaluate experimental sign messages and symbols. This process starts with an experimentation request from the State or local highway agency and approval of such a request by the Federal Highway Administration as outlined in Section 1A.10 of the MUTCD. We would be happy to consider a request from a State or local highway or transportation agency to experiment with a motorcycle warning sign and evaluate its performance as compared to other MUTCD-compliant sign-and-plaque combinations.

In summary, your proposed sign does not comply with the general principles or the specific provisions of the MUTCD. We are committed to improving highway safety for all road users, including motorcyclists. We would urge you to work with State and local highway agencies to develop solutions that are compliant with the MUTCD or follow the experimental process so that any new traffic control devices may be included in future editions of the MUTCD if they are found to be beneficial.

We regret we cannot provide the endorsement of your sign in its present form, but we hope this information is useful to you. We have assigned this interpretation the following Official Ruling number and title: "2(09)-39 (I) — Motorcycle Symbol Warning Sign." Please reference this number in any further communications on this matter. If you have further questions, please contact Mr. Eric Ferron at 720-963-3206 or

Sincerely yours,

Original signed by:

Mark R. Kehrli
Director, Office of Transportation Operations