NMA Email Newsletter: Issue #100

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is asking for public input by January 14, 2011 on compliance dates for several provisions in the 2009 version of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).

Information on how to submit your responses is provided by the Office of Operations of the FHWA at the highlighted link. A helpful hint: On this page, click on the PDF file option rather than the HTML version to view the instructions in easier-to-read formatting.

Specifically, the FHWA is looking for responses related to the following sections of the MUTCD:

  • Maintaining Minimum Sign Retroreflectivity
  • One-Way Signs
  • Horizontal Alignment Warning Signs
  • Yellow Change Intervals and Red Clearance Intervals
  • Pedestrian Intervals and Signal Phases

All are important topics, of course, but the Yellow Change Interval reference caught our eye because the issue of short yellow light durations is one that surfaces frequently in discussions about intersections with red-light cameras. The current compliance date for municipalities to set yellow light intervals in accordance with accepted engineering practices is December 31, 2014.

The FHWA candidly notes that, “. . . there are some agencies that have been using jurisdiction-wide constant durations, “rules of thumb,” or assigning durations to these intervals without applying any engineering factors.” This lackadaisical approach typically results in short yellow cycles that significantly drive up the accident rates, the number of red-light violations, and of course, ticket revenue.

The FHWA should be pushed to move up the Yellow Change Intervals and Red Clearance Intervals compliance date to December 31, 2012. If public safety is truly the issue, two full years is more than sufficient to evaluate the intersections in question and to adjust the signal timing to match ITE (Institute of Transportation Engineers) standards.

This is your opportunity to affect federal policy, and possibly your own pocketbook if you commute through an area equipped with red-light cameras. Go to the information link and register your opinion on compliance dates for key provisions within the 2009 MUTCD.

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