Are “Turn Around Don’t Drown” signs allowed in New York State?

Turn around, Don't drown sign

No, the sign is not in the MUTCD and does not provide a clear message. If the water is deep enough, the road should be closed. The use of a text message sign that is not in the MUTCD requires approval from NYSDOT.  Only minor modifications of standard signs can be used without special permission, as per Section 1A.03 in the NYS Supplement.

Text from MUTCD (Combination of the National MUTCD and NYS Supplement)

Section 2C.35 Weather Condition Signs
(W8-18, W8-19, W8-21, and W8-22)

W8-18 "Road may Flood" sign

Option
The ROAD MAY FLOOD (W8-18) sign may be used, as necessary, to warn of a roadway section which remains passable, but is covered by water which requires greatly reduced travel speed and/or obscures a significant length of pavement.

 

R11-2 "Road closed" sign

Guidance
The ROAD MAY FLOOD sign should be used only where the roadway remains, or is expected to remain, passable during its flooded condition. Where a roadway is, or is expected to become, impassable, it should be closed and suitably posted with ROAD CLOSED (R11-2) signs .

W8-19 water depth sign

Option
A Depth Gauge (W8-19) sign may also be installed within a roadway section that frequently floods.

Standard
If used, the Depth Gauge sign shall be in addition to the ROAD MAY FLOOD sign and shall indicate the depth of the water at the deepest point on the roadway.

References

Section 2C.35
Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD)

Cover of the NYS Supplement to the Manual on 
Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD)

NYS Supplement to the Manual on
Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD)

NYSDOT

 

 

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