Are rumble strips considered traffic control devices and, if so, does the MUTCD govern their design, spacing, etc.?
Longitudinal rumble strips consist of a series of rough textured or slightly raised or depressed road surfaces intended to alert inattentive drivers through vibration and sound that their vehicle has left the travel lane. (3J.01) Transverse rumble strips consist of intermittent narrow, transverse areas of rough-textured or slightly-raised or depressed road surface that extend across the travel lanes to alert drivers unusual vehicular traffic conditions, such as alignment and conditions that require a reduction in speed or a stop. (3J.02) The MUTCD does not contain provisions regarding the design or placement of either longitudinal or transverse rumble strips. The MUTCD does provide provisions for the use of
markings in combination with both
longitudinal and transverse rumble
strips, which can be found in Section
3J of the MUTCD.
It depends on whether the rumble strips are made of white or colored marking material or are cut into the pavement (and thus have the same color as the pavement.) A new Chapter 3J in the 2009 MUTCD addresses pavement markings that are used in conjunction with rumble strips. Tranverse rumble strips can be formed by the use of strips of thermoplastic pavement marking material so they must be white if placed across the travel lanes. Rumble strips cut into the pavement as grooves and in essence the same color as the pavement are not considered pavement markings in the MUTCD. Thus, permanent rumble strips consisting of longitudinal patterns of grooves cut on the shoulder or adjacent to the centerline are not currently considered traffic control devices and are not governed by the MUTCD.
Section 6F.87 contains standards, guidance, and options for temporary rumble strips used in traffic control zones. That section does cover both types of rumble strips --- those formed from marking material and those formed from grooves in the pavement --- and provides guidance on spacing, placement, and other application information. (It should be noted that Part 6, Temporary Traffic Control, is unique in the MUTCD in covering certain treatments that are not traffic control devices, including glare screens, attenuation devices, etc.).
Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices