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Author Topic: New MUTCD announced  (Read 2611 times)

Alps

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New MUTCD announced
« on: October 05, 2018, 01:10:30 PM »

https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/pressroom/fhwa1823.cfm

I'm told "spring 2019". I don't really see that as feasible given the review period. But this is apparently coming sooner than anyone thought.

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Re: New MUTCD announced
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2018, 02:08:04 PM »

https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/pressroom/fhwa1823.cfm

I'm told "spring 2019". I don't really see that as feasible given the review period. But this is apparently coming sooner than anyone thought.

19th of June, perhaps?

Looking forward to further attempts at uniformity. Hopefully, besides inclusion of a wide number of interim approvals, attempts to improve roads for self-driving cars is another way of saying "less optional tick boxes" (lots of optional stuff in the MUTCD, last I checked).
« Last Edit: October 05, 2018, 02:10:57 PM by jakeroot »
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Roadsguy

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Re: New MUTCD announced
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2018, 08:41:41 PM »

Hopefully everyone's favorite typeface stays as far away from the new MUTCD as it did the last one...
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Re: New MUTCD announced
« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2018, 12:41:04 AM »

Hopefully everyone's favorite typeface stays as far away from the new MUTCD as it did the last one...

Doesn't matter if it's in the MUTCD though, because whatever Congress says goes.
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Re: New MUTCD announced
« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2018, 11:43:05 AM »

I'm told "spring 2019". I don't really see that as feasible given the review period. But this is apparently coming sooner than anyone thought.

FHWA can publish a NPRM in tomorrow's Federal Register with no draft text or figures and a very minimal comment period (one week?) if the key decision-makers within the agency do not care about wrecking the MUTCD.  It will all depend on how important it is deemed to accommodate stakeholders and put out a high-quality final product.

Having watched all or part of three MUTCD revision processes and participated in two, I have been impressed with FHWA's efforts to implement process refinements from one revision to the next, but I have also seen that these have had mixed results.  In terms of MUTCD figures:

*  The millennium edition of the MUTCD did not have pattern-accurate figures.  Professionals and interested nonspecialists (such as myself) complained.

*  The 2003 edition of the MUTCD was released with pattern-accurate figures, but these were not available at the NPRM stage, so practitioners and citizens had to guess at what the signs would look like on the basis of FHWA's verbal descriptions.  There were concerns expressed about this.  The 2003 figures eventually published were also kind of rough-edged, in a way that later caused problems.  For example, the freeway advance guide sign figures showed the entirety of distance expressions all on one baseline, with fraction numerators and denominators on that baseline rather than in properly constructed fraction rectangles, even though there was no change to the rules for constructing distance expressions.  Advance guide signs began appearing in the field with distance expressions looking like the MUTCD figures.  (A properly constructed distance expression has the "small caps" legend on one baseline, with the distance value and any fraction rectangle vertically centered on that legend.)

*  For the rulemaking that led to the 2009 MUTCD, FHWA responded to the concerns about lack of preview by releasing full text and full figures (in two PDF files, which IIRC had about 700 pages each) on the MUTCD website on the same day the NPRM was published.  The draft figures in particular were very clean (freeway advance guide signs had properly constructed distance expressions).  However, the comment period was considered too short, to the extent that the NCUTCD (in what I felt at the time was an ill-advised move) encouraged practitioners to protest by not commenting at all.

We will have to see how things develop.  Regardless of the scheduling actually implemented, I do not see how FHWA can have a high-quality product ready for commenters before the autumn of 2019.
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Re: New MUTCD announced
« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2018, 06:39:33 PM »

Also, expected to be included are standardization of minimum retroreflectivity levels for blue and brown signs. Recommended values are already available, and I expect them to be standardized in the next MUTCD.
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Re: New MUTCD announced
« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2018, 07:22:11 PM »

Hopefully everyone's favorite typeface stays as far away from the new MUTCD as it did the last one...

How many state DOTs are still actively installing new signs with "everyone's favorite typeface"?
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kphoger

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Re: New MUTCD announced
« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2018, 08:01:32 PM »

Hopefully everyone's favorite typeface stays as far away from the new MUTCD as it did the last one...

How many state DOTs are still actively installing new signs with "everyone's favorite typeface"?

Just one.
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jakeroot

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Re: New MUTCD announced
« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2018, 08:48:15 PM »

Hopefully everyone's favorite typeface stays as far away from the new MUTCD as it did the last one...

How many state DOTs are still actively installing new signs with "everyone's favorite typeface"?

Just one.

Hmm
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Re: New MUTCD announced
« Reply #9 on: October 13, 2018, 10:12:32 AM »

Hopefully everyone's favorite typeface stays as far away from the new MUTCD as it did the last one...

How many state DOTs are still actively installing new signs with "everyone's favorite typeface"?

Just one.

Hmm
I believe he said state DOTs :awesomeface: :awesomeface:
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Re: New MUTCD announced
« Reply #10 on: October 14, 2018, 04:08:01 PM »

Hopefully everyone's favorite typeface stays as far away from the new MUTCD as it did the last one...
How many state DOTs are still actively installing new signs with "everyone's favorite typeface"?
Just one.
Hmm
I believe he said state DOTs :awesomeface: :awesomeface:

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Re: New MUTCD announced
« Reply #11 on: October 17, 2018, 10:12:23 PM »

Looking forward to further attempts at uniformity. Hopefully, besides inclusion of a wide number of interim approvals, attempts to improve roads for self-driving cars is another way of saying "less optional tick boxes" (lots of optional stuff in the MUTCD, last I checked).

The mention of flexibility in the press release makes me think there's going to be more options, or possibly more standard statements downgraded to guidance.  Given the number of times I've seen guidance treated as 'we don't have to follow it so we don't care,' this may be a step in the wrong direction.
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Re: New MUTCD announced
« Reply #12 on: October 17, 2018, 11:39:29 PM »

Jake is a state.  A state of mind.

I am the captain now.

Looking forward to further attempts at uniformity. Hopefully, besides inclusion of a wide number of interim approvals, attempts to improve roads for self-driving cars is another way of saying "less optional tick boxes" (lots of optional stuff in the MUTCD, last I checked).

The mention of flexibility in the press release makes me think there's going to be more options, or possibly more standard statements downgraded to guidance.  Given the number of times I've seen guidance treated as 'we don't have to follow it so we don't care,' this may be a step in the wrong direction.

Hmm. I wish you hadn't pointed that out. Self driving cars need consistency. I would imagine that having all road markings across the US standardized would help in the implementation of such technology.
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Re: New MUTCD announced
« Reply #13 on: October 18, 2018, 11:08:13 AM »

If pavement markings become the programming by which a self-driving car will operate, there will be much more liability involved in assuring pavement markings are absolutely 100% up to code.
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Re: New MUTCD announced
« Reply #14 on: October 18, 2018, 11:57:02 AM »

The mention of flexibility in the press release makes me think there's going to be more options, or possibly more standard statements downgraded to guidance.  Given the number of times I've seen guidance treated as 'we don't have to follow it so we don't care,' this may be a step in the wrong direction.

Hmm. I wish you hadn't pointed that out. Self driving cars need consistency. I would imagine that having all road markings across the US standardized would help in the implementation of such technology.

The MUTCD is a very complex document and liberalization can occur in some directions while requirements become more stringent in others.  Since the 2003 and 2009 editions of the MUTCD, for example, toll agencies and even some state DOTs that have long taken the position that they don't have to comply with MUTCD guide sign design rules--the Ohio Turnpike Commission and the New Jersey Turnpike Authority come to mind--have changed over to vanilla MUTCD sign design approaches.

My big concern, as someone who is interested primarily in guide signs, is that the MUTCD no longer has language establishing primary destination legend in Series E Modified as a minimum legibility floor for freeway guide signs, so any revision has the potential to bring us closer to signs with primary destination legend in mixed-case Series B.  FHWA has said that engineering judgment will prevent such a thing from happening, but it is difficult to exercise such judgment when information as to the unit legibilities of each alphabet series is not published (at least in the US), and is neither widely available to nor known by practitioners.
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Re: New MUTCD announced
« Reply #15 on: October 19, 2018, 01:30:20 PM »

Self driving cars need consistency. I would imagine that having all road markings across the US standardized would help in the implementation of such technology.

meh.  Whether there are sixteen standards or two standards out there for something—as long as all of them are part of the car's intelligence, then it shouldn't matter one way or the other.
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Re: New MUTCD announced
« Reply #16 on: October 19, 2018, 06:48:24 PM »

Self driving cars need consistency. I would imagine that having all road markings across the US standardized would help in the implementation of such technology.

meh.  Whether there are sixteen standards or two standards out there for something—as long as all of them are part of the car's intelligence, then it shouldn't matter one way or the other.

I would agree with this in theory.

For the sake of uniformity for human drivers, I dislike how many alternative options there are in the national MUTCD (usually for the sake of appeasing a few states who refuse to adopt the better national standard). But for an autonomous vehicle, recognizing variants of a sign or marking that are documented in the MUTCD shouldn't be a problem.

The real issue is locally-maintained and private road networks (e.g. shopping centers) that seem to come up with countless ridiculously non-compliant setups. A huge portion of these roads are in substantial non-compliance with the MUTCD.
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Re: New MUTCD announced
« Reply #17 on: October 19, 2018, 07:46:51 PM »

The real issue is locally-maintained and private road networks (e.g. shopping centers) that seem to come up with countless ridiculously non-compliant setups. A huge portion of these roads are in substantial non-compliance with the MUTCD.

On the other hand if there is a significant proliferation of autonomous vehicles dependent on being able to read signs and pavement markings, any extant noncompliances that are sufficiently off from spec to cause confusion will become quickly apparent as weird vehicle behavior results from it, which will force the hand of those responsible to improve their practices. After all no one is going to want to go shopping at the mall where every time they try to enter the parking lot their car throws an error and disengages autopilot because it doesn't know how to deal with pavement crisscrossed by solid yellow lines that the owner had painted there for whatever reason made sense in their head. People will complain and demand the problem be fixed.
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Re: New MUTCD announced
« Reply #18 on: October 19, 2018, 07:48:15 PM »

The mention of flexibility in the press release makes me think there's going to be more options, or possibly more standard statements downgraded to guidance.  Given the number of times I've seen guidance treated as 'we don't have to follow it so we don't care,' this may be a step in the wrong direction.

Hmm. I wish you hadn't pointed that out. Self driving cars need consistency. I would imagine that having all road markings across the US standardized would help in the implementation of such technology.

The MUTCD is a very complex document and liberalization can occur in some directions while requirements become more stringent in others.  Since the 2003 and 2009 editions of the MUTCD, for example, toll agencies and even some state DOTs that have long taken the position that they don't have to comply with MUTCD guide sign design rules--the Ohio Turnpike Commission and the New Jersey Turnpike Authority come to mind--have changed over to vanilla MUTCD sign design approaches.

Any reason for the changes? I'm glad to see improved recognition of standard practices, but if they've always declined to comply in the past, why now?

My big concern, as someone who is interested primarily in guide signs, is that the MUTCD no longer has language establishing primary destination legend in Series E Modified as a minimum legibility floor for freeway guide signs, so any revision has the potential to bring us closer to signs with primary destination legend in mixed-case Series B.  FHWA has said that engineering judgment will prevent such a thing from happening, but it is difficult to exercise such judgment when information as to the unit legibilities of each alphabet series is not published (at least in the US), and is neither widely available to nor known by practitioners.

Yeah, that doesn't seem too wise. If an engineer is unable to fit a particular legend onto a freeway guide sign using Series E(M), they need to consider changing the legend, changing the position of the sign, or changing the size of the sign. Simply using a narrower typeface just screams "lazy". Of course, I'm not a sign engineer, so I'm not going to pretend like a know everything. But mixed-case Series E(M) has been shown time and time again to be the best typeface for guide signs, so why that isn't the only option unless absolutely necessary, I'm not sure.

Self driving cars need consistency. I would imagine that having all road markings across the US standardized would help in the implementation of such technology.

meh.  Whether there are sixteen standards or two standards out there for something—as long as all of them are part of the car's intelligence, then it shouldn't matter one way or the other.

I would agree with this in theory.

For the sake of uniformity for human drivers, I dislike how many alternative options there are in the national MUTCD (usually for the sake of appeasing a few states who refuse to adopt the better national standard). But for an autonomous vehicle, recognizing variants of a sign or marking that are documented in the MUTCD shouldn't be a problem.

This is one of my gripes. The manual is full of optional extras. Yes, they could all be programmed into the brains of the car, but that doesn't mean we can't reduce the chance of an error occurring by simplifying what's out there.

One of my main gripes with lane markings at the moment is the lack of any requirement for dotted edge markings. For example, on freeways in states, when lanes merge and diverge, there's this large area of pavement (at its widest, about 2.2 lanes wide, narrowing down to only one lane wide at the end of the merge/diverge). How, as I driver, can I remain confident that the car will remain centered in its lane when one of the edge lines is temporarily missing?

I would prefer the MUTCD adopted a ruling like this: any time you leave your lane (to do anything), you cross a dashed line.
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Re: New MUTCD announced
« Reply #19 on: October 20, 2018, 01:59:49 AM »

The mention of flexibility in the press release makes me think there's going to be more options, or possibly more standard statements downgraded to guidance.  Given the number of times I've seen guidance treated as 'we don't have to follow it so we don't care,' this may be a step in the wrong direction.

Hmm. I wish you hadn't pointed that out. Self driving cars need consistency. I would imagine that having all road markings across the US standardized would help in the implementation of such technology.

The MUTCD is a very complex document and liberalization can occur in some directions while requirements become more stringent in others.  Since the 2003 and 2009 editions of the MUTCD, for example, toll agencies and even some state DOTs that have long taken the position that they don't have to comply with MUTCD guide sign design rules--the Ohio Turnpike Commission and the New Jersey Turnpike Authority come to mind--have changed over to vanilla MUTCD sign design approaches.

Any reason for the changes? I'm glad to see improved recognition of standard practices, but if they've always declined to comply in the past, why now?

My big concern, as someone who is interested primarily in guide signs, is that the MUTCD no longer has language establishing primary destination legend in Series E Modified as a minimum legibility floor for freeway guide signs, so any revision has the potential to bring us closer to signs with primary destination legend in mixed-case Series B.  FHWA has said that engineering judgment will prevent such a thing from happening, but it is difficult to exercise such judgment when information as to the unit legibilities of each alphabet series is not published (at least in the US), and is neither widely available to nor known by practitioners.

Yeah, that doesn't seem too wise. If an engineer is unable to fit a particular legend onto a freeway guide sign using Series E(M), they need to consider changing the legend, changing the position of the sign, or changing the size of the sign. Simply using a narrower typeface just screams "lazy". Of course, I'm not a sign engineer, so I'm not going to pretend like a know everything. But mixed-case Series E(M) has been shown time and time again to be the best typeface for guide signs, so why that isn't the only option unless absolutely necessary, I'm not sure.

Self driving cars need consistency. I would imagine that having all road markings across the US standardized would help in the implementation of such technology.

meh.  Whether there are sixteen standards or two standards out there for something—as long as all of them are part of the car's intelligence, then it shouldn't matter one way or the other.

I would agree with this in theory.

For the sake of uniformity for human drivers, I dislike how many alternative options there are in the national MUTCD (usually for the sake of appeasing a few states who refuse to adopt the better national standard). But for an autonomous vehicle, recognizing variants of a sign or marking that are documented in the MUTCD shouldn't be a problem.

This is one of my gripes. The manual is full of optional extras. Yes, they could all be programmed into the brains of the car, but that doesn't mean we can't reduce the chance of an error occurring by simplifying what's out there.

One of my main gripes with lane markings at the moment is the lack of any requirement for dotted edge markings. For example, on freeways in states, when lanes merge and diverge, there's this large area of pavement (at its widest, about 2.2 lanes wide, narrowing down to only one lane wide at the end of the mergeerge). How, as I driver, can I remain confident that the car will remain centered in its lane when one of the edge lines is temporarily missing?

I would prefer the MUTCD adopted a ruling like this: any time you leave your lane (to do anything), you cross a dashed line.



ADOT is using Enhanced E-Modified on freeway guide signs and Series D on non-freeway signs.  For signs at freeway to freeway junctions, ADOT increases the size of the text of control cities (this started during the Clearview era and continues to this day).
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Re: New MUTCD announced
« Reply #20 on: October 20, 2018, 10:51:26 AM »

Any reason for the changes? I'm glad to see improved recognition of standard practices, but if they've always declined to comply in the past, why now?

A big factor, I understand, is the same modified approach to enforcement from FHWA that resulted in California implementing exit number signing in 2002.

Yeah, that doesn't seem too wise. If an engineer is unable to fit a particular legend onto a freeway guide sign using Series E(M), they need to consider changing the legend, changing the position of the sign, or changing the size of the sign. Simply using a narrower typeface just screams "lazy". Of course, I'm not a sign engineer, so I'm not going to pretend like a know everything. But mixed-case Series E(M) has been shown time and time again to be the best typeface for guide signs, so why that isn't the only option unless absolutely necessary, I'm not sure.

A few small states, such as Vermont, design conventional-road guide signs with Series B as the default.  At one time Georgia was using mixed-case Series C or D at taller letter heights (e.g., 20 in UC/15 in LC instead of the usual 16 in UC/12 in LC) on freeway guide signs, but it has now retreated from this in favor of biting the bullet and using Series E Modified at the taller heights.  I frankly think Arizona's use of Series E, even at Series E Modified spacing, is ill-advised.
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Re: New MUTCD announced
« Reply #21 on: October 20, 2018, 02:32:55 PM »

Yeah, that doesn't seem too wise. If an engineer is unable to fit a particular legend onto a freeway guide sign using Series E(M), they need to consider changing the legend, changing the position of the sign, or changing the size of the sign. Simply using a narrower typeface just screams "lazy". Of course, I'm not a sign engineer, so I'm not going to pretend like a know everything. But mixed-case Series E(M) has been shown time and time again to be the best typeface for guide signs, so why that isn't the only option unless absolutely necessary, I'm not sure.

A few small states, such as Vermont, design conventional-road guide signs with Series B as the default.  At one time Georgia was using mixed-case Series C or D at taller letter heights (e.g., 20 in UC/15 in LC instead of the usual 16 in UC/12 in LC) on freeway guide signs, but it has now retreated from this in favor of biting the bullet and using Series E Modified at the taller heights.  I frankly think Arizona's use of Series E, even at Series E Modified spacing, is ill-advised.

I don't have any qualms with "EE(M)", but until we know better, E(M) is certainly the better bet.

I'm quite used to seeing E(M) here in WA, as I think we've been using it for quite some time. But every now and again, something else pops up. Like this Series C guide sign for an event center (of sorts), or this combo Series C/E(M) guide sign. 99% of signs use E(M), but it's not unlike WSDOT to occasionally throw up something narrower.
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Re: New MUTCD announced
« Reply #22 on: October 20, 2018, 02:50:42 PM »

Yeah, that doesn't seem too wise. If an engineer is unable to fit a particular legend onto a freeway guide sign using Series E(M), they need to consider changing the legend, changing the position of the sign, or changing the size of the sign. Simply using a narrower typeface just screams "lazy". Of course, I'm not a sign engineer, so I'm not going to pretend like a know everything. But mixed-case Series E(M) has been shown time and time again to be the best typeface for guide signs, so why that isn't the only option unless absolutely necessary, I'm not sure.

The MUTCD outright states that legend size is supposed to be determined first, and then the dimensions of the sign determined based on that. Any designer that reduces the legend size or typeface to fit in a predetermined sign blank is violating the MUTCD.
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Re: New MUTCD announced
« Reply #23 on: October 20, 2018, 04:37:56 PM »

Yeah, that doesn't seem too wise. If an engineer is unable to fit a particular legend onto a freeway guide sign using Series E(M), they need to consider changing the legend, changing the position of the sign, or changing the size of the sign. Simply using a narrower typeface just screams "lazy". Of course, I'm not a sign engineer, so I'm not going to pretend like a know everything. But mixed-case Series E(M) has been shown time and time again to be the best typeface for guide signs, so why that isn't the only option unless absolutely necessary, I'm not sure.

The MUTCD outright states that legend size is supposed to be determined first, and then the dimensions of the sign determined based on that. Any designer that reduces the legend size or typeface to fit in a predetermined sign blank is violating the MUTCD.

Is it possible that apparent violations are due to existing sign mounts not being able to fit a wider sign (leaving the engineer's hands tied)?
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  • Location: Kentucky
  • Last Login: October 16, 2019, 02:41:48 PM
    • Millennium Highway
Re: New MUTCD announced
« Reply #24 on: October 21, 2018, 03:23:59 PM »

At some point, cost has to come into play. Those big signs aren't cheap.  If a smaller sign, and thus a smaller font, can save tax dollars, then I'm all for it.
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