MUTCD Law Changes V: Sign Sizes & Letter Heights

Stonehouse Signs is summarizing the MUTCD standards changes, published in the 2009 Edition of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) by the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration (FHWA.) The date for implementation and continued use of an assessment or management method that is designed to maintain traffic sign retroreflectivity at or above the established minimum levels is January 22, 2012.

Our six part series on these changes is:

  1. MUTCD Law Changes Part I: New MUTCD Law Changes Are Coming – Are You Prepared?
  2. MUTCD Law Changes Part II: Minimum Retroreflectivity Requirements
  3. MUTCD Law Changes Part III: Color Changes
  4. MUTCD Law Changes Part IV: Sign Heights and Lateral Locations for Sign Installations
  5. MUTCD Law Changes Part V: Changes In Sign Sizes & Lettering Heights
  6. MUTCD Law Changes Part VI: Important Compliance Dates

Stonehouse Signs MUTCD Signs
You can also purchase our MUTCD Signs online, 
or contact us for Custom Reflective Signs or Custom Traffic Signs. 

 

In our last post, we discussed in detail the standardization of location for sign installation, changes in mounting heights and lateral offsets, and the changes in sign orientation as stated in 2009 Edition of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), published by the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). 

This post will take a quick look at some of the size and lettering changes that are included in the new 2009 version of MUTCD.  The  majority of the changes were in the sign sizing tables, which are also included in the appropriate sections.

Use these links to jump to the information you are looking for:

Sign Size Changes

Sign Lettering Changes
Sign Lettering Size Changes

Note: This information is a summary of changes to sign sizes, lettering and lettering heights.  Please visit the FHWA Website for more information, guidance, and updates


Sign Size Changes

 

There were some significant changes made to the sizing tables for virtually all of the MUTCD sign categories.  Click on the highlighted titles/links in this section to view the applicable sizing table changes in the 2009 version of MUTCD.

Here are some specific size changes that are worth noting:

  • Minimum sign size may be decreased 6 inches in alleys that have restrictive physical conditions.
     
  • There are new and larger sizes for certain signs on multi-lane roads with speed limits of 40 MPH or more (see the 'Multi-Lane' column in table 2B-1)
     
  • Larger sizes for stop signs- 36” for:
  1. Any stop sign facing a multi-lane approach
  2. Any multi-lane side road approach to a multi-lane road
  3. Any side road approach to a multi-lane road with a speed limit of 45 MPH or higher
  4. 36” x 36” minimum sign size for muti-lane conventional roads
  • Size of traffic signal speed sign increased from 12” x 18” to 24” x 36”

Regulatory Signs inform road users of selected traffic laws or regulations and indicate the applicability of the legal requirements. 

Stonehouse Signs MUTCD 2009 Compliant Stop Signs

Stonehouse Signs MUTCD 2009 Compliant  Keep Right Signs

Stonehouse Signs MUTCD 2009 Compliant  Wrong Way Signs

Stonehouse Signs MUTCD 2009 Compliant Yield Signs


Warning Signs call attention to unexpected conditions on or adjacent to a highway, street, or private roads open to public travel and to situations that might not be readily apparent to road users.  These conditions might call for a reduction of speed or an action in the interest of safety and efficient traffic operations.

Stonehouse Signs MUTCD 2009 Compliant Truck Crossing Signs

Stonehouse Signs MUTCD 2009 Compliant Bumb Warning Signs

Stonehouse Signs MUTCD 2009 Compliant Pedestrian Crossing Signs

Stonehouse Signs MUTCD 2009 Compliant  Pedestrian Crossing Sign


Conventional Road Guide Signs
are essential to direct road users along streets and highways, to inform them of:

  • Intersecting routes
  • Direct them to cities, towns, villages, or other important destinations
  • Identify nearby rivers and streams, parks, forests, and historical sites
  • Give information to help provide the most simple, direct manner possible.
MUTCD 2009 Compliant Conventional Road Guide Signs Examples

Note: these guidelines also apply to low-volume roads.

Freeway/Expressway Guide Signs on freeways and expressways should serve distinct functions as follows:

  • Give directions to destinations, or to streets or highway routes, at intersections or interchanges;
  • Furnish advance notice of the approach to intersections or interchanges;
  • Direct road users into appropriate lanes in advance of diverging or merging movements;
  • Identify routes and directions on those routes;
  • Show distances to destinations;
  • Indicate access to general motorist services, rest, scenic, and recreational areas
  • Provide other information of value to the road user.
MUTCD 2009 Compliant Freeway-Expressway Guide Sign Examples


General Information Signs include such items as State lines, city limits, other political boundaries, time zones, stream names, elevations, landmarks, and similar items of geographical interest, and safety and transportation-related messages.

MUTCD 2009 Compliant General Information Sign Examples


General Service Signs: On conventional roads, commercial services such as gas, food, and lodging generally are within sight and are available to the road user at reasonably frequent intervals along the route.  General Service signing is usually not required in urban areas except for hospitals, law enforcement assistance, tourist information centers, and camping.

MUTCD 2009 Compliant General Service Sign Examples

Sign Lettering Changes
 

  • Word messages should be as brief as possible and the lettering should be large enough to provide the necessary legibility distance.  A minimum specific ratio of 1 inch of letter height per 30 feet of legibility distance based on 20/40 vision should be used.
     
  • Word messages should not contain periods, apostrophes, question marks, ampersands, or other punctuation or characters that are not letters, numerals, or hyphens unless necessary to avoid confusion.
     
  • Option to use all upper-case letters for place names and street names is no longer compliant.  The lettering for names of  streets and highways on Street Name signs shall be composed of a combination of lower-case letters with initial upper-case letters.
     
  • The unique letter forms for each of the Standard Alphabet series shall not be stretched, compressed, warped, or otherwise manipulated.

Sign Lettering Size Changes
 

The recommended minimum letter heights for Street Name signs:

  • For local roads with speed limits of 25 mph or less, the lettering on post-mounted Street Name signs may be composed of initial upper-case letters at least 4 inches in height and lower-case letters at least 3 inches in height.
     
  • If overhead Street Name signs are used, the lettering should be composed of initial upper-case letters at least 12 inches in height andlower-case letters at least 9 inches in height.
     
  • Lettering on post-mounted Street Name signs should be composed of initial upper-case letters at least 6 inches in height and lower-case letters at least 4.5 inches in height.
     
  • When a mixed-case legend is used, the height of the lower-case letters shall be 3/4 of the height of the initial upper-case letter.  Letter height is expressed in terms of the height of an upper-case letter.  For mixed-case legends (those composed of an initial upper-case letter followed by lower-case letters), the height of the lower-case letters is derived from the specified height of the initial upper-case letter based on a prescribed ratio.
     
  • Required minimum letter heights for word/message/logo panels:

o   8” for freeways/expressways

o   4” for ramps and conventional roads

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