Section 1A of the 2009 Edition of the MUTCD provides basic information on traffic control devices (TCDs). It includes five basic requirements for a TCD to be effective:

  1. Fulfill a need
  2. Command attention
  3. Convey a clear, simple meaning
  4. Command respect from road users
  5. Give adequate time for proper response

The current edition of the MUTCD is the 2023 MUTCD.

As a federal regulation, the federal government is responsible for the content of the MUTCD. Within the federal government, the MUTCD Team of FHWA is responsible for developing draft MUTCD content for processing through rulemaking.

MUTCD content can be changed only through the federal rulemaking process. This page provides more information about the process for changing the MUTCD.

Each state has adopted an MUTCD in one of the following manners:

  1. adopt the National MUTCD,
  2. adopt the national MUTCD with a state supplement, or
  3. adopt a state MUTCD.

For activities related to current and/or future traffic control device issues, the current applicable MUTCD is the pertinent document.  When assessing criteria related to aspects of a previously installed traffic control device, the MUTCD that was current at the time of design/installation and/or the date of a crash is the pertinent document.

The national MUTCD is available as a free PDF download from the FHWA MUTCD website.  State MUTCDs and/or state MUTCD supplements are typically available for download from the state transportation agency’s website.  A page on the FHWA MUTCD website contains links to state manuals.

FHWA issues an Interim Approval to provide for interim use of a new or revised traffic control device not addressed in the current MUTCD.  Agencies and facility owners must request permission from FHWA to use a traffic control device under an Interim Approval.

Agencies and facility owners have the ability to request an interpretation of MUTCD content from FHWA on traffic control device issues.  Official MUTCD interpretations are posted on the FHWA MUTCD website and provide useful information to guide practitioners on the use of the MUTCD.

Section 1A.10 of the 2009 MUTCD describes the process for an agency or person to request: an interpretation of MUTCD content, permission to experiment with a traffic control device, or a change to MUTCD content.  The FHWA MUTCD website includes a page that provides a searchable database of these requests for changes, experiments, and interpretations related to the MUTCD.  This database is referred to as the MUTCD Official Rulings.

The UVC is a compilation of recommended laws related to users and vehicles on public roadways.  Portions of the UVC address issues such as licensing of individuals to operate vehicles on public roads, requirements for vehicles to operate on public roads, traffic laws for operating a vehicle on a public roadway, and the meaning of selected traffic control devices.

In the 1920s, a series of conferences sponsored by the National Conference on Street and Highway Safety established the initial UVC to guide states in the development of traffic laws.  Ownership of the UVC later transferred to the National Conference on Uniform Traffic Laws and Ordinances, which issued updates to the UVC on a regular basis until 2000.  In 2008, NCUTLO dissolved and there have been no updates to the UVC since that time.

Submit FAQ questions for consideration using the form below. Questions should be of a general nature and not related to a specific traffic control device at a specific location.