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Links to Regs & Specs

LINKS: Traffic sign standards (FHWA) and our sign making materials (3M™, Avery-Dennison™ and Alcoa™)

FHWA MUTCD (Federal Highway Administration [US Dept. of Transportation] Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices)

  • The “bible” for all traffic signs. Some states adopt the FHWA MUTCD in its entirety without making any changes, others adopt this national FHWA MUTCD then attach a state Supplement for certain changes, and other states create their own state MUTCD based, in part, upon the FHWA MUTCD
  • Contains hundreds of pages of information, including recommended SIZES OF TRAFFIC SIGNS used on US highways and roads
  • Note: After clicking on the link above, you can download the ENTIRE 2009 MUTCD w/ rev. 1 & 2 manual (the current edition), but it is a very large document. For a faster download, click on the links on that page to download and view the individual chapters.
  • Although all jurisdictions use the FHWA MUTCD as a guideline, the size, reflectivity and other sign requirements are established by the LOCAL JURISDICTION (State DOT, county highway department, city government etc.). Therefore, check with your Local Jurisdiction to determine the required sign sizes and other ordinances for traffic signs before placing an order.


FHWA SHS (Federal Highway Administration [US Dept. of Transportation] “Standard Highway Signs”)

  • Companion manual to the FHWA MUTCD
  • The “Official” FHWA DRAWINGS OF ALL 1,000+ TRAFFIC SIGNS used on US highways and roads. Shows sign sizes, colors, layout, arrow shapes, text sizes etc.
  • Drawings for all traffic signs are shown in two (2) documents in the FHWA MUTCD
    • 1. 2012 Supplement to 2004 SHS
      • contains 200+ NEW SIGNS and REVISIONS TO PREVIOUS DESIGNS adopted in 2009 and 2012
      • Check this document FIRST
        • If the sign is listed, this is the current, approved design, and takes precedence to any design shown in the 2004 SHS edition
        • If the sign is NOT listed, use the 2004 SHS
    • 2. 2004 SHS
      • Contains all drawings of 1000+ traffic signs, both
        • the 200+ that WERE later revised in 2009 and 2012 (do NOT use the designs shown in the 2004 SHS; instead use the 2012 Supplement mentioned above) and
        • those that were NOT revised (OK to use the designs shown in this 2004 SHS document)
    • For example
      • “STOP” sign (R1-1)
        • There were not any changes made to this sign in 2009 or 2012 and therefore this sign does NOT exist in the 2012 supplement
        • Instead, it only appears in the 2004 SHS and is the current, approved design
      • “Speed Limit” sign (R2-1)
        • There was a minor change made to the design in 2012 and therefore it appears in the 2012 Supplement and takes president over the previous 2004 design
        • Although the older design also appears in the 2004 SHS, this old design may not be used and should be ignored


STATE MUTCDs:MUTCD and Traffic Control Devices by STATE Click on for a link to ALL 50 STATE DOT (Department of Transportation) for additional information on your state’s traffic sign requirements



  • Link to FHWA “official” traffic sign colors and Pantone numbers:
  • 3M only makes their acrylic transparent films, their best, most durable sign legend making material, in these “official” FHWA colors, with the following exceptions
    • Black: available, but not shown on this link / document
    • White: available, but not shown on this link / document
    • Pink: not available, reserved for future use
    • Purple: not available, reserved for future use
  • Consequently, we can only make CUSTOM signs using these available colors; purple and pink, and other colors such as light blue, gold etc. are NOT available and therefore we cannot make custom signs in any color OTHER than these “official” FHWA traffic sign colors


ACRYLIC FILM, 3M™ Series 1170: 3M’s best, most durable legend (text, borders, symbols etc.) making material, used on every sign we make


REFLECTIVE SHEETINGS:We only use reflective sheeting made by 3M™ and Avery™. We never use sheetings made in Asia and other countries that, although they meet ASTM and DOT reflectivity standards initially, they quickly lose their reflective properties within a few years and the signs are no longer in compliance.



  • We only use the highest quality aluminum sign blanks produced from Alcoa™ 5052-H38 aluminum
  • Please see the link to “Our Materials and Business Practices” or “Why purchase a sign from ARA Signs?” on our homepage for additional information on the aluminum we use for every sign we make
  • Unlike most of our competitors, all of our aluminum is treated with Alodine 1200™, a chromate conversion process to reduce the chances of aluminum oxide (a.k.a. “white rust”) from forming. Please see our “FAQ” page on our homepage for additional information regarding this special treatment.

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