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SIZES of TRAFFIC signs with FHWA Links

SIZES OF TRAFFIC SIGNSLegal Consequences and Links to the FHWA website

Although some people can accurately determine the size of an object (such as a traffic sign) from within a moving vehicle, most are surprised to learn that traffic signs1 are actually larger than they appear.

For example, per MUTCD and all 50 state DOT / Highway Departments, for residential streets, all 2-lane (1 lane in each direction) roads2 (public streets and on private property3)

  • “STOP” signs
    • MUST be a minimum of 30” X 30”
    • there are NO exceptions for public or private roads and streets3
    • Smaller sizes are only permitted for pedestrian, equestrian and bicycle trails, golf courses, on guard shacks, inside warehouses for forklifts, etc.
    • We offer smaller Stop signs (24” X 24”, 18” X 18” and even smaller), but it is the customer’s responsibility to insure that these sizes are approved by your Local Jurisdiction for your application
  • “Speed Limit” signs
    • are usually always a minimum of 24” X 30” (width X height)
    • under certain limited circumstances (straight, low volume, low speed residential roads without any obstructions such as trees and bushes, hills etc.) can be a minimum of 18” X 24”, but the relatively few local jurisdictions that approve this smaller size will only do so if an “Engineering Study” is conducted to determine, in writing, that it is safe to use this smaller size.  Many local jurisdictions will not even consider a proposal for a size smaller than 24” X 30”.
    • The only other exception is the 12” X 18” size, but ONLY for pedestrian, equestrian and bicycle trails, and for limited commercial use such as golf courses; NEVER permitted on any public or privately owned streets or roads
    • We offer these smaller 18” X 24” and 12” X 18” speed limit signs, but it is the customer’s responsibility to insure that these sizes are approved by your Local Jurisdiction

For the 1,000+ other MUTCD / DOT traffic sign required SIZES (way too many to list here!)

  • Please contact us by phone (702-644-7446) or email
    • Please be advised that we can only provide the required size GUIDELINES per the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) MUTCD
    • The actual sizes for your particular location is determined by your Local Jurisdiction (county highway department, city government etc.) and may be different that the FHWA guidelines we provide.  It is the customer’s responsibility to determine that the size ordered is approved by your Local Jurisdiction.
    • We can also provide a submittal which shows and image of the sign plus the proposed SIZES and a list of the sign making materials for you to submit to your Local Jurisdiction for their approval or comments.  We do not charge a fee for this service.
  • Contact your Local Jurisdiction
    • Some city and county highway departments have websites with this information
    • Most can provide this information quickly via telephone
    • Others may require this request for information in writing or via email, but they usually reply promptly
    • We can also provide you with a submittal at no charge (please see note in "Contact Us" section above)
  • Visit your state’s DOT website
    • A few list the required minimum traffic sign sizes that apply to all traffic signs state-wide, but since most traffic sign sizes are determined at the local level, this size information is not available on most state DOT websites.
  • Visit the FHWA MUTCD website
    • As stated above, the minimum sizes listed in the FHWA MUTCD are “guidelines”
    • Although most states and local jurisdictions have adopted the FHWA size guidelines, some have not (and their standards MUST be used instead)
    • It, therefore, is usually necessary to contact your Local Jurisdiction to see what sizes they require be in compliance with local ordinances
    • To see the FHWA standards ("guidelines"), please click on the links below.

 

LEGAL CONSEQUENCES

  • Any time a PROPERTY OWNERor, in the case of residential subdivisions where purchasing and installing traffic signs is the responsibility of aHOME OWNER'S ASSOCIATION (HOA), PROPERTY MANAGEMENT COMPANY or similar organization, deviaties from the SIGN SIZE(or required Grade of reflective sheeting) ordanances established by the Local Jurisdiction can face sersious legal consequences
  • If, for example, a "STOP" sign, Speed Limit Sign or any other regulatory or warning sign installed is smaller than the required size, it is 
    • "not legal"
    • "not in compliance"
    • and therfore "not enforceable"
  • The owner could be liable and sued in the event of an accident.  A driver who "blew thru" a STOP sign or was speeding can simply state "I didn't see the sign (it was so small)" and will probably be excused by the Judge in court.
  • I have personally seen a few undersized traffic signs on private property and residential subdivisions, but the owner is taking a real chance!
  • It is therefore always wise to purchase the size of sign required by your Local Jurisdiction; the mosest additional cost of conforming with local sign ordinances for the sizes, grades of reflective sheetings and other requirements are well worth it!

 

2009* FHWA (Federal Highway Administration) MUTCD (Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices): Links, Sizes and other important information

* although already several years old, the 2009 edition, Revision 2 below, is the current, most recent edition of the FHWA MUTCD

  • ENTIRE 2009 MUTCD (Intro Page: Click on PDF version or individual chapters)
    • http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/pdfs/2009r1r2/pdf_index.htm
    • This is a very large document that will take some time to download
    • Instead, you can click on the following Chapters for a faster download.  The tables for the sizes for each category appear just after the chapter’s introduction

FOOTNOTES

1 “Traffic Signs” include Regulatory Signs (“Stop”, speed limit, “Do Not Enter” etc.), Warning signs (the familiar black on yellow diamond shaped signs such as the “Curve Arrow”), Parking Signs, “Road Construction Signs (often black on orange, but also black on white such as “Sidewalk Closed”), guide (white on blue or green, street name signs etc.), informational, parks & recreation signs (typically white on a brown background) and hundreds others.

2 the required minimum size for multi-lane conventional roads, freeways, expressways and Interstate highways are, of course, even larger.

3 Traffic signs installed on PRIVATE PROPERTY. Unless a road is posted “No Trespassing” (and, in many jurisdictions, also gated and locked), traffic signs on private property (farms, ranches, homes, commercial property etc.) MUST comply with the same traffic sign size regulations as signs on public streets. Please see our link on our homepage for additional information.

Please click on the sign category images above to see the 9,000+ signs we offer

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