Can the MUTCD Catch Up with the New Mobility Revolution?

Advocates are fighting for better protection for vulnerable road users from the federal manual that dictates how signs, signals and roadway markings work on U.S. roads. But some are going further to urge the Department of Transportation to set strong standards for the virtual signals that have just as much of an impact on how drivers behave in our communities — and give cities more tools to rein in the private companies that are making life hell for non-drivers.

Late last week, a loose coalition of advocates asked the Federal Highway Administration to address the rise of “digital signaling” in the next edition of the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (aka the MUTCD), which is being revised for the first time in 12 years. The MUTCD has been the focus of intense scrutiny among safe streets advocates, who argue the manual doesn’t do enough to mandate that cities implement safe speed limits, walker-friendly signal timing at intersections, and other roadway features that protect vulnerable road users.