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MUTCD Compliant


All of our regulatory, warning, parking and other traffic signs (all ARA Signs except Custom signs2) are Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) MUTCD Compliant (2009 MUTCD [Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices] and 2004, as revised 2012, Standard Highway Signs [SHS]) as follows:

  1. The layout and legend (text, symbols, borders etc) are in compliance. For example, the size, spacing and positioning of the letters “STOP” on our R1-1 “Stop” signs are pursuant to FHWA specifications
  2. 3M™ and ARA Signs guarantees that our sign colors conform to Federal retroreflective and brightness Specification FP-96, Section 178.01(a) and ASTM D4956 specifications
  3. The corner radiuses are correct for the size of the sign
  4. Holes are punched pursuant to the MUTCD (unless a customer requests something different)


Please note that although the FHWA makes RECOMMENDATIONS for

  • the minimum sizes for signs installed on various types of highways (Conventional Roads, Interstates, etc.) and
  • provides guidance regarding reflectivity,

the FHWA MUTCD does NOT REQUIRE that all signs be a certain SIZE or specific GRADE OF REFLECTIVE SHEETING4; this task is handled at the STATE or LOCAL LEVEL.

Unfortunately, these size and reflectivity specifications vary from state to state and from city to city.

Therefore, although all of our traffic signs, in every size and all 3 grades of reflectivity we offer are all “MUTCD Compliant”, only certain sizes and grades of reflectivity for that particular sign are “DOT or Local Jurisdiction Compliant”1 for YOUR particular location.

For example, our MUTCD compliant 18” X 24” High Intensity Grade Type III/IV R2-1 speed limit sign which meets DOT specifications in one state would NOT meet size or reflectivity requirements of another state if that state or local jurisdiction requires all speed limit signs to be at least 24” X 30” and made using Diamond Grade Type IX reflective sheeting (which we also offer, but, of course, is more expensive)

Thickness and type of ALUMINUM

Similarly, except for federally funded highway projects, the FHWA does NOT dictate what thickness or alloy of aluminum must be used nation-wide. Again, this is determined at the state or local level by the appropriate jurisdiction.

Fortunately, the vast majority of state and local jurisdictions require 0.080”, 5052-H38 Aluminum that meets ASTM B-209 specifications (the thickness, alloy and hardness required by the FHWA for federally funded highway projects and the ONLY aluminum we use [except for thicker 0.100” and 0.125” by special order]).

We NEVER use 3000 series recycled aluminum, “softer” H-32 hardness, “thin” 0.063” or 0.040” or any other inferior aluminum.


Although we are happy to provide general advice based upon the FHWA MUTCD regarding sign sizes and reflectivity and other specifications (which, fortunately, most [but not all] local jurisdictions adhere to) we are NOT knowledgeable about the actual sign requirements for every state, county and city.

It is therefore ultimately the customer’s responsibility to insure that any traffic sign ordered from us conforms to state DOT and/or local city, county or highway department regulations regarding suitability, size, reflectivity, materials and other specifications.  Most Jurisditctions will immediately provide answers to what GRADE of  reflectivity and what SIZE of a particular sign is required by phone.  Other Jurisdictions may require your questions in writing or email and most reply promptly.  We make no warranty, expressed or implied, as to suitability of any sign, sign post or sign mounting hardware.



1.  “Local Jurisdiction”: Although in a few states traffic sign requirements are “state-wide” and established by that state’s DOT (Department of Transportation), in most states the “local jurisdiction” is the county highway department or city government and often vary from one city or county to another within that same state. Confusing, to say the least!

2.We use the same sign making methods and material to make custom signs and certain specialty parking signs that we use to manufacture traffic signs installed along Interstates, major highways and city streets.  Business, personal, specialty and other custom signs, of course, are not “MUTCD Compliant”, but are just as durable and carry our same warranty as their “Compliant” cousins.  Although local TRAFFIC sign specifications and ordanances usually do not apply to CUSTOM signs, some Jurisdictions also have size and materials specifications for custom signs for business and personal use outdoors.  A few jurisdictions in "historic" and other locations of cultural interest, such as historic downtown Williamsberg, VA also have strict ordanances on what colors are allowed!

3.Engineer Grade reflective sheeting was developed by 3M in 1948. Although it was a vast improvement from painted signs that were used prior to EG, newer, more reflective sheetings have been introduced by 3M and other manufactures, including High Intensity (introduced in the early 1970’s), High Intensity Prismatic and Diamond Grade (first introduced in the 1990’s).  In most jurisdictions, Engineer Grade is only allowed for “non-critical” signage such as parking signs and seldom permitted for “Stop”, “Speed Limit” and other traffic signs where high reflectivity for safety or law enforcement is a priority.

4.Based upon recommendations by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Congress signed into law, effective January 22, 2008 that significantly reduces the use of Engineer Grade reflective sheeting. For those few remaining states and counties that have not already prohibited the use of EG for signs public roads and roads on private property “Open to Public Travel”, they too will now have to discontinue the use of EG for all signs except “non-critical” signage such as parking signs. UPDATE 2016: Effective date when EG is now longer permitted is currently “on hold” pending new legislation.

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