A CLARIFICATION OF LANGUAGE FROM THE FEDERAL HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION MAY AFFECT PARKING SIGNAGE
In an effort to make it easier for motorists and pedestrians to recognize signs, traffic signals, pavement markings and other traffic control devices that regulate, warn or guide traffic, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has put parking signage under consideration to become MUTCD compliant. In fact, the FHWA issued a clarification of language regarding parking signage in a 2006 clarification of the then current Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), which stated that private roads open to public travel included parking areas and driving aisles within parking areas must comply.
However, after some concerns and questions about how to actually apply it to parking arose, the 2009 MUTCD retains the requirement that signs and pavement markings on private roads must comply, but excluded parking areas. A task force has been named by the National Committee on Uniform Control Devices (a voluntary organization that develops draft standards for consideration by the FHWA) to develop appropriate requirements for parking.
It is likely that regulatory and warning signs will be required to fully comply with MUTCD, with only modifications of size of signs as appropriate to circumstances like parking garages. The committee is considering changes in the requirements for other elements in parking such as the color of stripes delineating parking stalls and requirements wayfinding signs. It is not known if or when the task force recommendations might be incorporated into MUTCD, but probably not for at least two years, and perhaps not until the next edition of MUTCD (currently planned for 2015).
The FHWA still recommends that signage and pavement markings be compliant to the extent feasible, but it is currently a "should" rather than a "must." For example if a stop sign is considered appropriate within a parking area, it should be compliant with MUTCD.
The goal is for all signs and traffic control devices used in parking facilities to look and operate the same way they would on a public road, so motorists and pedestrians alike instantly recognize and understand the meaning or message of the sign, creating a safer and more efficient environment.
Parking signs that will most likely have to comply with MUTCD standards include guidance signs, such as Park, Exit or Out, Stairs/Elevators, and signs that direct traffic to a particular place, like Millcreek Mall, Peach Street. Regulatory and warning signs should also comply with MUTCD guidelines, including No Parking, No Pedestrians, STOP, Yield, Pedestrians Crossing and Bump signs.
Requirements for the design of MUTCD compliant signs include that they are legible for the audience intended to see them, and that they can be understood in time to permit the appropriate response. The newly updated MUTCD states that desired design attributes include "high visibility by day and night; and high legibility (adequately sized letters, symbols, or arrows, and a short legend for quick comprehension by a road user approaching a sign)."
MUTCD compliancy requires uniformity in design, including color, shape, dimensions, legends, borders and illumination and retroreflectivity. LEDs can be used to illuminate the symbols or message of the sign, as well as portions of the sign border, to improve the conspicuity, increase the legibility of the sign legends and borders, or provide a changeable message. Uniformity in design, position and applications are essential in order for varying classes of traffic signs to be recognized immediately.
MUTCD also states, however, that "standardization of these designs does not preclude further improvement by minor changes in the proportion or orientation of symbols, width of borders, or layout of word messages, but all shapes and colors shall be as indicated." For example, if a parking garage requires a particular sign to be smaller than the MUTCD standard, alterations or adjustments may be made to accommodate the sign in a particular setting. As long as the symbols are unmistakably similar to, or exact replicas of MUTCD standard signs, liberties may be taken depending on where the sign is located and how it will be used.
For information or to discuss MUTCD compliant signs for your parking garage, contact a knowledgeable Trans-Tech sales rep toll free at 888-811-7010. For more information on the 2009 edition of the MUTCD, click here, or view a PDF version of the manual online here.