Lesson 1: The MUTCD
After completing this lesson, you will be able to use the MUTCD as the standard for traffic control devices for all streets and highways open to public travel regardless of type or class or governmental agency having jurisdiction.
The National MUTCD (Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices) establishes a nationwide standard so that drivers can learn one set of rules that don't change every time they cross a state line. The MUTCD is the accepted standard of the highway industry. Each state may have additional requirements to meet their own needs or situations not listed in the National MUTCD. In New York State there is a Supplement to the National MUTCD. Combined, the National MUTCD and the NYS Supplement are the MUTCD for New York State.
The NYS Supplement is found in Volume 17B of the New York Codes, Rules and Regulations. Every municipality should have a copy of both the National MUTCD and the NYS Supplement. Anyone who uses or occupies a highway or road for purposes other than travel and who may affect traffic is required to comply with it. Failure to comply with it greatly increases the legal liability of municipalities in the event of an accident.
The NYS Traffic and Vehicle law requires that the following groups must comply with the MUTCD:
- New York State highway and public works officials
- Private contractors
- Emergency response and law enforcement personnel
- Utility crews working in public road rights-of-way
The MUTCD contains definitions and descriptions of regulatory, warning, and guide signs; pavement markings; traffic signals; work zone traffic control apparatus; and other devices. When using the MUTCD, it is important to understand the use of these words and their meanings in the document:
- Shall: a mandatory condition that is required - no discretion is allowed
- Should: an advisory condition that is recommended - deviation is allowed to the extent there is reason to do so
- May: a permissive condition that is allowed