The American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials (AASHTO) has submitted comments on a proposed Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) rule that would split the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) into two documents.
In January, FHWA asked for public comment on a proposal to divide the MUTCD into two separate documents—one that would continue as the official document (and therefore require a rulemaking to change any part of it) and the other a supplemental document containing best practices (that could be changed without going through a rulemaking process). FHWA officials said they hoped this would streamline and simplify the document.
In a letter from AASHTO Executive Director Bud Wright, AASHTO applauded the effort to simplify the manual. However, AASHTO said that it is not clear that splitting the MUTCD into two documents would create a more streamlined approach.
AASHTO suggested that FHWA explore additional options and that FHWA delay action on the proposal until the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (NCUTCD) finalizes a "long-range vision and strategic plan for the manual," which could reveal other possible options. This strategic plan is expected to be completed by January 2014.
"AASHTO recommends that the MUTCD be maintained as a single document until the results of the NCUTCD MUTCD strategic planning effort can be completed," AASHTO's letter states. "Waiting for the results of the strategic planning effort will help to produce a manual that best meets the needs of road users and the practitioners that are responsible for implementing the principles contained in the document."
AASHTO's statement echoes much of what NCUTCD stated in its own letter to the U.S. DOT.
"NCUTCD is not aware of any compelling evidence that restructuring the MUTCD will advance highway safety or improve MUTCD application by practitioners," NCUTCD's letter stated "At this time, it is unclear whether restructuring the MUTCD into multiple documents will make it easier to use, smaller in content, or speed up the revision process. FHWA should evaluate a complete range of options for simplifying the MUTCD in addition to restructuring the document."
The MUTCD is published through a partnership between AASHTO, FHWA the American Traffic Safety Services Association and the Institute of Transportation Engineers.