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January 10, 2007
In Reply Refer To: HOTO-1
Mr. Dan Martell
Traffic Design Engineer Specialist
South Dakota Department of Transportation
700 East Broadway
Pierre, SD 57501
Dear Mr. Martell:
Thank you for your January 3 e-mail to Ms. Sharon Johnson of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) South Dakota Division Office, requesting an official interpretation of Section 3B.16 of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) regarding stop lines and yield lines on uncontrolled approaches to pedestrian crosswalks. Ms. Johnson forwarded your request to this office, which is responsible for official interpretations of the MUTCD.
As you noted, Section 3B.16 states that stop lines should be used to indicate the point behind which vehicles are required to stop, in compliance with a STOP (R1-1) sign, traffic control signal, or some other traffic control device, except YIELD signs. You asked, "when there is no traffic control device such as at a mid block pedestrian crossing or when the pedestrian crossing is at an uncontrolled movement at an intersection…if a marking is used, is a stop bar in compliance with the manual or is a yield line required?"
A marked crosswalk is a traffic control device, according to the definition of traffic control device given in Section 1A.13. If the State law requires drivers to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks on an uncontrolled approach, then a stop line could be used under the provisions of Section 3B.16 to indicate the point behind which such stops are to be made. However, it is our understanding that South Dakota law does not require drivers to come to a full stop for pedestrians. The South Dakota law requires drivers to yield to pedestrians at such locations. Therefore, the use of a stop line on an uncontrolled approach to a crosswalk is not in compliance with the MUTCD in South Dakota or any other State with a "yield to pedestrians" law. Only a yield line may be used to indicate the point at which a yield is intended or required to be made.
The MUTCD does not require a transverse line to be provided in advance of all uncontrolled approaches to crosswalks. However, if a yield line is used on an uncontrolled approach to a crosswalk, Section 3B.16 recommends that the yield line be located 20 to 50 feet in advance of the crosswalk, and Section 2B.11 of the MUTCD requires that R1-5 or R1-5a "Yield Here to Pedestrians" signs shall be placed 20 to 50 feet in advance of the crosswalk. Section 3B.16 further states that parking should be prohibited in the area between the yield line and the crosswalk. The signs and markings are illustrated in Figure 3B-15.
Recognizing that the existing language of Section 3B.16 is not as clear on this subject as it could be, the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (NCUTCD) has recommended to FHWA that the MUTCD text be revised to clearly state that stop lines shall not be used for yield conditions, including those at uncontrolled approaches to crosswalks where drivers must yield to pedestrians. We plan to include the proposed revisions in the next update to the MUTCD, which will go through the rulemaking process starting later this year.
Thank you for writing on this subject. If you have any questions, please contact Mr. Scott Wainwright of our staff by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 202-366-0857. Please note that we have assigned your request the following official interpretation number and title: "3-201(I)—Stop Lines for Yield Conditions." Please refer to this number in any future correspondence.
/s/ A. T. Furst
Anthony T. Furst
Acting Director, Office of Transportation
United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration