MUTCD Law Changes Part III: Color Changes

Thu, 2011-04-14

My last post provided some information on the new MUTCD retroreflectivity requirements, the methods you can use to evaluate posted signs, and some important dates to remember to ensure you are in compliance. 

As a reminder, 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.

This post will discuss the majority of sign color changes and additional options that are required by the 2009 Edition of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), published by the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal highway Administration (FHWA).

Several of these options will affect virtually every city or county in the country.  Below is a list of various color changes, both optional and required.

In the next installment, We will discuss some of the changes in sign heights and lateral locations for sign installations mandated by MUTCD in detail.

Note: This information is a summary of the various color options and requirements.  Please visit the FHWA Website for more information, guidance, and updates

  1. You now have the approval to use the fluorescent version of the standard red, yellow or orange color as an alternative to the corresponding standard color of any sign.  Take a look at this chart to review the common colors MUTCD recommends for various signs.
  2. Alternative background colors for green street name signs are restricted to blue, brown or white.  As you might have deduced, there are many questions that stem from this change.
  3. All yellow school area and school warning signs are now non-compliant.  The new color requirement for these signs is florescent yellow-green.  This color helps make school signs more visible, and when combined with the requirement to be retroreflective and the changes to where these signs are placed, provide significant improvement in awareness and safety.

    Click on the image to see the full-sized version!                           
Old Versions          New Versions
MUTCD 2009 Non-Compliant School Zone Signs MUTCD 2009 Compliant School Zone Signs

Source: FHWA

As you can see, this color change is universal across all school area and warning signs, including:

  • School Area Signs- Used to warn road users that they are approaching a school area that might include school buildings or grounds, a school crossing, or school related activity adjacent to the highway
  • School Zone Signs- Used to identify the location of the beginning of a designated school zone.
  • School Crossing Signs - used to warn approaching road users of the location of a crossing where schoolchildren cross the roadway when combined with a diagonal downward pointing arrow plaque.

Bicycle and pedestrian warning signs also have the option of using florescent yellow green.

  1. New purple color is required for lanes restricted to vehicles registered as ‘electronic toll collection accounts’ (toll roads or EZ Pass accounts).

There are two different options for signs for ETC accounts:

1. Purple background with a white contrasting border

2. A pictograph design with a background color other than purple, with purple underlay panel with a white contrasting border.

Take a look at this example, which depicts both options:

MUTCD 2009 Compliant Toll Signs

Source: FHWA

Every standard Stonehouse MUTCD traffic sign is manufactured using high intensity reflective material that complies with the new minimum retroreflectivity requirements outlined by the FHWA and MUTCD.

For more information or if you have any questions use our click-to-chat feature to the right or  contact one of our sign experts at (800) 525-0456.  We’re here to help!