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Author Topic: New MUTCD announced  (Read 2288 times)

jakeroot

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Re: New MUTCD announced
« Reply #25 on: October 21, 2018, 04:00:07 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.

I don't think cost comes into play. These things are usually budgeted.
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Re: New MUTCD announced
« Reply #26 on: October 22, 2018, 05:56:44 AM »

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.
Smaller signs, I would think, will ALWAYS save money. The question is how cheap do we want to be.
I think too many states already go out of their way to be cheap with signs, striping and other road related installations.

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J N Winkler

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Re: New MUTCD announced
« Reply #27 on: October 22, 2018, 11:00:49 AM »

In terms of cost per installation for a given nominal reading distance, the US is already quite efficient compared to most other countries.  We use a set of typefaces that are not conspicuously inefficient in terms of legibility per unit of sign area covered, and we employ sign design rules that typically leave relatively little blank area on the sign panel.  On freeways we could probably achieve modest additional efficiencies in sign panel area by allowing it to be more common to range shields next to destination legend (Caltrans-style) versus sticking to shields always above primary destination legend (often leaves a lot of blank space on either side of a single shield).  But even with shields always above destination legend, a typical American freeway advance guide or exit direction sign leaves less space blank than a "fork" sign in Britain or Germany.  In terms of structure cost, we are in the position of being able to spend more modestly than other countries to achieve the same benefits in terms of reduced obscuration by large trucks, because we allow the same sign to be ground-mounted on posts (very cheap, usually under $5,000) or on a cantilever structure (usually around $30,000) instead of making it a big deal to jump from a very large ground-mounted sign in the "fork" format to a set of differently formatted signs designed for mounting to a full-width overhead signbridge (in Britain, the cost disparity is £5,000 for ground-mounted fork sign versus over £100,000 for overhead signbridge, since cantilever mounting of fixed permanent directional signs is not allowed on motorways).

This efficiency makes it fairly difficult to shave costs further without also reducing reading distance.  This is why I am opposed to expanding agencies' ability to maintain technical compliance with the MUTCD while reducing reading distance, which is effectively what Vermont is doing by using Series B rather than the standard Series D at the specified letter heights on its conventional-road guide signs.
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UCFKnights

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Re: New MUTCD announced
« Reply #28 on: October 23, 2018, 04:38:28 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.
Orlando/CFX recently adapted small dashed lines all the way on merging lanes, and it drives me and others batshit crazy when visibility is limited, its frequently hard to tell where the lane ends, and there is no differentiation between the lane ending small dashed line and the small dashed line indicating the lane is exit only. I think those markings should be banned for lane merges, and I don't really like them on splits either, just mandatory indicating exit-only lanes.
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jakeroot

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Re: New MUTCD announced
« Reply #29 on: October 23, 2018, 04:43:44 PM »

Orlando/CFX recently adapted small dashed lines all the way on merging lanes, and it drives me and others batshit crazy when visibility is limited, its frequently hard to tell where the lane ends, and there is no differentiation between the lane ending small dashed line and the small dashed line indicating the lane is exit only. I think those markings should be banned for lane merges, and I don't really like them on splits either, just mandatory indicating exit-only lanes.

Sounds like they're poorly designed. Most states use a narrower dashed line for edge extension markings (the technical term), with a wider variation reserved for exit-only situations.

I've seen wider dashes in FL personally, but they were used in conjunction with long splitter arrows. Are those still used?
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kphoger

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Re: New MUTCD announced
« Reply #30 on: October 23, 2018, 05:01:29 PM »

Orlando/CFX recently adapted small dashed lines all the way on merging lanes, and it drives me and others batshit crazy when visibility is limited, its frequently hard to tell where the lane ends

I totally agree.  You sometimes have no idea how long your lane will continue until it's time to MOVE OVER NOW.  Could be ¾ miles, could be just a few hundred feet.
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UCFKnights

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Re: New MUTCD announced
« Reply #31 on: October 23, 2018, 05:25:15 PM »

Orlando/CFX recently adapted small dashed lines all the way on merging lanes, and it drives me and others batshit crazy when visibility is limited, its frequently hard to tell where the lane ends, and there is no differentiation between the lane ending small dashed line and the small dashed line indicating the lane is exit only. I think those markings should be banned for lane merges, and I don't really like them on splits either, just mandatory indicating exit-only lanes.

Sounds like they're poorly designed. Most states use a narrower dashed line for edge extension markings (the technical term), with a wider variation reserved for exit-only situations.

I've seen wider dashes in FL personally, but they were used in conjunction with long splitter arrows. Are those still used?
They did add those long splitter arrows as part of the same project to add those dashed lines. Here's how an exit with an exit only lane and an option lane is marked:
https://www.google.com/maps/@28.5469725,-81.2707755,3a,75y,103.74h,92.53t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sjOu6ZIWZ0QouHgUEFzdF8w!2e0!7i16384!8i8192

I've seen people just keep driving straight through it, as the dashed line just continues straight after the exit begins, and there is too many lines on the road for people to understand the meaning.

On the end of merge lanes, here's how they're marking it now:
https://www.google.com/maps/@28.5385093,-81.3301712,3a,68.7y,308.79h,83.26t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sBh0BU54DxNdF0fwHDWHPAA!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

I myself, when seeing those marks for the first time, thought I had much more distance then I did (when visibility wasn't quite as good as GSV provides) and drove a little bit off the road, and I've seen countless others do that a well. Its flat out dangerous.
« Last Edit: October 23, 2018, 05:32:15 PM by UCFKnights »
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billpa

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Re: New MUTCD announced
« Reply #32 on: October 23, 2018, 05:29:10 PM »

I've had a look at the gsv links. I have no idea what the problem is.

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UCFKnights

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Re: New MUTCD announced
« Reply #33 on: October 23, 2018, 05:45:58 PM »

I've had a look at the gsv links. I have no idea what the problem is.

Pixel 2
The problem in the first/road forking example is a driver in the far right lane could possibly get confused and continue to follow the small dashed line to their left, and inadverterently cross paths with a driver using the left option exit lane. I've seen people do this numerous times since the markings were added.

The problem in the second/road merging example is with poor visibility, its hard to know that you're at the point where the lane is really ending, and people don't realize it until the lane has already substantially narrowed that there lane is half gone because the road markings no longer indicate that. Typically, the dashed lines disappear when the merging lane begins to disappear, because at that point, they're basically merged, the lanes have become one, you no longer have 2 lanes of road here. I myself made this mistake when they first changed the markings in this manner.

And if we're talking about autonomous cars, they may see one set of lines, such as the dashed ones, attempt to follow that assuming that is "straight" and miss the solid line coming off of it, and end up inadvertently changing lanes.

I feel like this is a similar problem to the road markings of multilane roundabouts, and its generally not a good idea to have dashed lines parallel to vehicles travel paths that vehicles have to cross, it can be too confusing with a quick glance, even if it makes sense given an overall picture like the street view image.
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jakeroot

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Re: New MUTCD announced
« Reply #34 on: October 23, 2018, 07:16:21 PM »

And if we're talking about autonomous cars, they may see one set of lines, such as the dashed ones, attempt to follow that assuming that is "straight" and miss the solid line coming off of it, and end up inadvertently changing lanes.

They aren't very well coded, then, if they can't tell the difference between a dashed and solid line.

The problem in the second/road merging example is with poor visibility, its hard to know that you're at the point where the lane is really ending, and people don't realize it until the lane has already substantially narrowed that there lane is half gone because the road markings no longer indicate that. Typically, the dashed lines disappear when the merging lane begins to disappear, because at that point, they're basically merged, the lanes have become one, you no longer have 2 lanes of road here. I myself made this mistake when they first changed the markings in this manner.

Typically, dashed lines are reserved for the last X-hundred feet of a lane that's merging or diverging. When you see the dashed lines, you know something is coming up. With no lines, it's not entirely clear, for example, who is merging into who, which lane is the one leaving and the one heading straight on, etc. And then you have the other issue of multiple lanes occupying one giant open area between lines, such as in my linked example above. If the ramp is backed up, it's nice to know where you can wait without getting clipped, since the dashed line indicates the edge of the lane.
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Mergingtraffic

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Re: New MUTCD announced
« Reply #35 on: October 23, 2018, 07:30:25 PM »

CT was doing the dashed lines as a slow vehicle lane is ending until the lane narrows out and meets the white solid line.  Lately with newer repavement jobs they haven't.

and for exit only lanes CT unusually does the last half mile as a dotted/dashed line.
« Last Edit: October 23, 2018, 07:44:27 PM by Mergingtraffic »
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kphoger

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Re: New MUTCD announced
« Reply #36 on: October 23, 2018, 07:41:53 PM »

Typically, dashed lines are reserved for the last X-hundred feet of a lane that's merging or diverging.

Except when, if a road was striped according to the 2003 MUTCD guidelines, a dotted line is reserved for the beginning of a lane that's diverging.  Far from a universal standard.

Also, the only guidance I see in the 2009 MUTCD as to how long a dotted line should extend for an acceleration lane is "at least half the length of the full-width acceleration lane plus taper."  Beyond that point, it is "optional."  So a driver doesn't really know which to expect:  the dotted line to end at some point before the taper, or else the dotted line to extend all the way to the end of the taper.  Even if the former becomes apparent, "at least half the length" is pretty vague guidance.

On my morning commute, there is a stretch of I-135 with a 0.4-mile dotted line for an exit-only lane.

If the ramp is backed up, it's nice to know where you can wait without getting clipped, since the dashed line indicates the edge of the lane.

You might be overestimating how much your likelihood of being rear-ended is affected by the existence of paint on asphalt.
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UCFKnights

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Re: New MUTCD announced
« Reply #37 on: October 23, 2018, 07:52:48 PM »

And if we're talking about autonomous cars, they may see one set of lines, such as the dashed ones, attempt to follow that assuming that is "straight" and miss the solid line coming off of it, and end up inadvertently changing lanes.

They aren't very well coded, then, if they can't tell the difference between a dashed and solid line.
The problem more is that there is literally a wrong set of lines on the road. If it misses the solid line (which looking at my image, the long straight arrow looks fairly similar to the lane edge line as well, so it may assume a different marking), it very well could follow the dashed line its been seeing up until this point, that is continuing straight. Plus, humans are already making this mistake, a mistake I generally never saw before they added those markings
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The problem in the second/road merging example is with poor visibility, its hard to know that you're at the point where the lane is really ending, and people don't realize it until the lane has already substantially narrowed that there lane is half gone because the road markings no longer indicate that. Typically, the dashed lines disappear when the merging lane begins to disappear, because at that point, they're basically merged, the lanes have become one, you no longer have 2 lanes of road here. I myself made this mistake when they first changed the markings in this manner.

Typically, dashed lines are reserved for the last X-hundred feet of a lane that's merging or diverging. When you see the dashed lines, you know something is coming up. With no lines, it's not entirely clear, for example, who is merging into who, which lane is the one leaving and the one heading straight on, etc. And then you have the other issue of multiple lanes occupying one giant open area between lines, such as in my linked example above. If the ramp is backed up, it's nice to know where you can wait without getting clipped, since the dashed line indicates the edge of the lane.
I love the dashed lines indicating the diverging lane, I think that should be MUTCD mandated, it gets the message across really well. I don't really mind it on merging ones, but it needs to end when the lane begins to narrow, its an extra alert that the lane is really over. But its completely ridiculous and inconsistent with any other dashed road marking when they have the dashed line across the exit. Where you are diverging should be clear you're welcome, its not indicating you're moving into someone else's traffic and need to yield, its not like stop bars that we pass, or turning over dashed lines which indicates a bike lane or some other hazard, its just confusing and unnecessary. Every other line we drive over indicates some sort of hazard, this one is not.

The arrows on the ending lane indicates who needs to merge, and if its heavy traffic, they should be zipper merging, and the dashes make the merge point more confusing. Slightly unrelated but the Orlando airport for the longest time had merge arrows pointing to each other on the ramps when the 2 lanes were converting to 1 (I think when they repaved the road they randomly decided to switch who merges into who, and didn't remove the old paint very well, one was more fresh then the other). I believe they repaved it a few years ago and its no longer like that.
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billpa

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Re: New MUTCD announced
« Reply #38 on: October 24, 2018, 04:49:32 AM »

Beyond that point, it is "optional." 

There's that word 'optional'...It's ridiculous to 'not' have a standard when it comes to these things.  I realize there are 50 states but many states don't always stripe roads the same from one district to another.  Sometimes the same highway has different striping standards from one exit to the next.
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kphoger

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Re: New MUTCD announced
« Reply #39 on: October 24, 2018, 11:55:59 AM »

Beyond that point, it is "optional." 

There's that word 'optional'...It's ridiculous to 'not' have a standard when it comes to these things.  I realize there are 50 states but many states don't always stripe roads the same from one district to another.  Sometimes the same highway has different striping standards from one exit to the next.

And it's not just that it's optional, either.  Any length between 50% and 100% of the total lane and taper length is allowed.
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Scott5114

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Re: New MUTCD announced
« Reply #40 on: October 24, 2018, 11:06:08 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)?

The MUTCD would say that the sign mounts would therefore be out of compliance and need to be replaced.

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.

Why not just use milepost blanks for everything, then?
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Re: New MUTCD announced
« Reply #41 on: February 17, 2019, 06:46:47 AM »

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