2013 Compliance Date Unchanged for Crashworthy Highway Signs

The Federal Highway Administration decided not to delay the Jan. 17, 2013, compliance date in the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices.

A new final rule from the Federal Highway Administration leaves intact the Jan. 17, 2013, compliance date in the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices applying to crashworthiness of existing sign supports on roads with posted speed limits of 50 mph or more. Several parties, including four state departments of transportation and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), asked that the compliance date be moved to 2019 or to the end of the useful life of the sign supports.

FHWA said in the rule that it "disagrees with eliminating or extending the compliance date because eliminating fixed-object hazards on high-speed roads remains a critical safety need due to the potential for death or severe injury that can result from high-speed, run-off-the-road crashes when non-crashworthy sign supports are struck."

The rule includes a chart of data on fatal crashes from 2005 through 2009 on such roads where a sign support was the "most harmful event." The data were obtained from NHTSA's Fatality Analysis Reporting System and show an annual average of 68 deaths were attributed to collisions with highway sign posts or overhead sign supports:

  • 2005: 56
  • 2006: 65
  • 2007: 66
  • 2008: 88
  • 2009: 65

This means if the compliance date were extended by six years as requested, about 400 deaths in such crashes might occur during that period, the rule notes. It also says the compliance date was formally adopted in 2003 and was included in the MUTCD in 2000, so agencies have had more than a decade to comply with it.

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