Federal traffic control updates are getting the green light

The rules of the road are getting updated for the first time since 2009.

You’ve surely heard the blaring voice that screams “wait” when you need to cross the street.

A crosswalk sign with the red hand showing and a crosswalk in the background.

But what you might not know is that there’s a single manual in charge of making sure US traffic control devices are up to par.

The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways, published by the Federal Highway Administration, is updated once every ~10 years to reflect changing tech and habits.

It’s also the reason you won’t drive off a cliff during your cross-country road trip: It keeps our road signs and signals uniform nationwide.

Now, per Bloomberg, it’s getting its first update since 2009 to include things like:

  • Safety improvements for pedestrians or cyclists, such as flashing beacons at crosswalks and painted green bike lanes.
  • Introducing signage for EV charging stations.
  • Suggesting ways that cities can prepare roads for self-driving cars.

The updates reflect not only changing technology — with autonomous and electric vehicles having taken off since the last manual was published — but also rising concern over traffic accidents.

Safety first

Nearly 43k people died in US motor vehicle crashes in 2022, including 7.5k+ pedestrians.

Bike and pedestrian safety advocates have voiced concerns over the ways that federal traffic standards on speed limits prioritize cars, leaving those walking, biking, or using public transportation at risk.

To update the manual, the agency gathered input from traffic engineers as well as 100k+ public comments.

Now, the FHWA says it will update the manual more regularly as transportation tech evolves rapidly.

We leave you with the most Boston thing imaginable: a mystery crosswalk voice that drops the “r” in Vassar Street.

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Topics: Transportation

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