|FHWA Policy Memorandums|
|U.S. Department of Transportation|
|Federal Highway Administration|
MUTCD — Interim
Approval for Optional Use of a Traffic
Signal Photo Enforced Sign (IA-12)
|Date:||November 12, 2010|
|From:||Jeffrey A. Lindley
Associate Administrator for Operations
|In Reply Refer To:||
Directors of Field Services
Federal Lands Highway Division Engineers
Director of Technical Services
Purpose: The purpose of this memorandum is to issue an Interim Approval for the optional use of a sign that informs road users on an approach to a signalized location that compliance with the red signal indication is being enforced through the use of a red-light-running camera system. Interim Approval allows interim use, pending official rulemaking, of a new traffic control device, a revision to the application or manner of use of an existing traffic control device, or a provision not specifically described in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).
Background: The Missouri Department of Transportation has requested that the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) issue an Interim Approval to allow the use of a Traffic Signal Photo Enforced sign that includes a traffic signal symbol (the same symbol that is used on the W3-3 warning sign) below which is the word message PHOTO ENFORCED in black letters. The border of the sign is black and the background color of the sign is white. This sign does not appear in the 2009 MUTCD, and Paragraph 8 of Section 2A.12 prohibits the use of a symbol used on a warning sign from being used on a regulatory sign unless it is specifically authorized in the MUTCD. According to the 2009 MUTCD, the manner in which road users may be warned of traffic signal photo enforcement is through the use of a Photo Enforced (W16-10P or W16-10aP) plaque (see Figure 2C-12) mounted below a Signal Ahead (W3-3) warning sign (see Figure 2C-6). However, there are many signalized locations where photo enforcement is present where the engineer has determined that a Signal Ahead warning sign is not needed. Using a Signal Ahead (W3-3) sign to notify road users about the photo enforcement on an approach where the advance warning of the traffic control signal itself is not needed diminishes the effect of the Signal Ahead (W3-3) sign at locations where the advance warning of the traffic control signal is needed.
Research on the Traffic Signal Photo Enforced Sign: The effectiveness of a Traffic Signal Photo Enforced sign design consisting of a traffic signal symbol (the same symbol that is used on the W3-3 Signal Ahead warning sign) in combination with the word legend of PHOTO ENFORCED in black letters, with a black border on a white background, was successfully evaluated by researchers at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the University of Iceland on behalf of the Missouri Department of Transportation in approved Official Experiment 2-595. The results included in the Final Report for this experiment showed that the correct meaning of the experimental sign was identified by a sufficient percentage of the survey participants for this application.
The issue of the appropriate color (white or yellow) for the background of the Traffic Signal Photo Enforced sign was considered by the Regulatory and Warning Signs Technical Committee (RWSTC) of the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices at its 2010 summer meeting. The RWSTC voted in favor of a white background, which conforms to the color of the TRAFFIC LAWS PHOTO ENFORCED (R10-18) sign (see Figure 2B-3) that also gives notice to road users of the photo enforcement of traffic laws.
FHWA Evaluation of Results: The Office of Transportation Operations has reviewed the available data and considers the experimental Traffic Signal Photo Enforced sign to be satisfactorily successful for the application tested (an approach to a signalized location where red-light cameras are present). The experimental Traffic Signal Photo Enforced sign provides agencies with a means of notifying road users of the presence of red-light cameras without the use of an unnecessary Signal Ahead warning sign, thus avoiding the overuse of this important warning sign. The safety effects of making road users aware that the jurisdiction is using photo enforcement of red-light compliance will likely be realized at other intersections in the geographic area in addition to the location where the red-light-running cameras are installed.
The design of the experimental Traffic Signal Photo Enforced sign is not proprietary and can be used by any jurisdiction that requests and obtains interim approval from the FHWA to use the sign. The FHWA believes that the experimental Traffic Signal Photo Enforced sign has a low risk of safety or operational concerns.
The experimental Traffic Signal Photo Enforced sign is a non-controversial sign whose design and use has been endorsed by the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. The granting of an Interim Approval for this sign will provide practitioners with a uniform sign that can be used nationally to notify road users about this specific type of photo enforcement.
This Interim Approval does not create a new mandate compelling the use of this new sign, but will allow agencies to install this sign, pending official MUTCD rulemaking, to provide notice to road users that photo enforcement of red-light running is present on a particular approach to a signalized location. Agencies may also continue to use a Photo Enforced (W16-10P or W16-10aP) plaque mounted below a Signal Ahead (W3-3) sign for this application.
Conditions of Interim Approval: The FHWA will grant Interim Approval for the optional use of a Traffic Signal Photo Enforced sign, designated as R10-18a, to any jurisdiction that submits a written request to the Office of Transportation Operations. A State may request Interim Approval for all jurisdictions in that State. Jurisdictions using the Traffic Signal Photo Enforced sign under this Interim Approval must agree to comply with the technical conditions detailed below, to maintain an inventory list of all locations where the signs are installed, and to comply with Item D in Paragraph 18 of Section 1A.10 of the 2009 MUTCD, which requires:
"An agreement to restore the site(s) of the Interim Approval to a condition that complies with the provisions in this Manual within 3 months following the issuance of a Final Rule on this traffic control device; and terminate use of the device or application installed under the interim approval at any time that it determines significant safety concerns are directly or indirectly attributable to the device or application. The FHWA's Office of Transportation Operations has the right to terminate the interim approval at any time if there is an indication of safety concerns."
The use of the Traffic Signal Photo Enforced (R10-18a) sign is optional. However, if an agency opts to use a Traffic Signal Photo Enforced sign under this Interim Approval, the following design and installation requirements shall apply, and shall take precedence over any conflicting provisions of the MUTCD for the approach on which the Traffic Signal Photo Enforced sign is used.
Except as otherwise provided above, all other provisions of the MUTCD applicable to signs shall apply to Traffic Signal Photo Enforced (R10-18a) signs.
Any questions concerning this Interim Approval should be directed to Mr. Bruce Friedman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chief Financial Officer
United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration