The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) is a standard for road signs, signals, and markings that is developed by the United States Federal Highway Administration. Every U.S. state conforms to either the federal MUTCD or a state-specific standard that is in "substantial conformance" with the federal MUTCD. Additionally, other countries such as Canada and New Zealand have adopted significant aspects of the MUTCD in their national and regional standards.
The MUTCD defines the content and placement of road signs. Design specifications are detailed in a separate document, Standard Highway Signs and Markings (SHSD). Separate design charts and specifications also accompany state MUTCDs. Transportation departments may update these documents at different times than the MUTCD. The latest edition of the MUTCD was published in 2009 and last revised in May 2012.
Usage in OpenStreetMap
In the U.S., a traffic sign is mapped as a node tagged traffic_sign=US:Z1-2, where "US" is the country's ISO 3166 code and Z1-2 is the sign's alphanumeric designation. A state-specific sign is tagged traffic_sign=US:XY:Z1-2, where XY is the postal abbreviation of the state whose MUTCD standard specifies the sign.
MUTCD signs are available in a preset collection and style for JOSM.
Mapillary incorporates a variety of MUTCD signs into its traffic sign detection layer as miniature icons. These icons are available on GitHub in SVG format under the MIT license. OpenStreetCam maintains a similar icon set also under the MIT license.
Each standard sign or plaque in the MUTCD and SHSD is assigned an alphanumeric designation and organized by series. A sign designation follows this format:
|Regulatory||Bicycles and Pedestrians||No Pedestrian Crossing||Use Crosswalk||Plaque||Left|
- The series is omitted in smaller categories.
- The variant is a way to group signs that differ stylistically but perform the same function.
- A "P" denotes a plaque that cannot be used on its own and can only appear in a sign assembly.
- Orientation-dependent signs, such as those that bear an arrow to one side, are denoted "L" for left, "C" for center, "R" for right, "H" for horizontal, or "V" for vertical.
Signs by series
The following pages contain a correspondence between MUTCD signs and their most likely tagging in OpenStreetMap:
- Series CW – Construction
- Series D – Destination and Distance
- Series E – Exit Signs
- Series EM – Emergency Management and Civil Defense Signs
- Series G – Work Zone
- Series I – General Information Signs
- Series IM – Incident Management Signs
- Series M – Marker Signs
- Series OM – Object Marker
- Series R – Regulatory Signs
- Series RS – Recreational and Cultural Interest Area Symbol Signs
- Series S – School Signs
- Series W – Warning Signs
Unless otherwise specified, apply the suggested tags to whatever the sign refers to, which is typically not at the precise location of the sign itself. Optionally, you can also map the sign itself as a traffic_sign=* node.
Signs by state
The national MUTCD standard is not applied uniformly nationwide. Several states substitute their own state-level MUTCD standards, and many other states supplement the MUTCD with state standards. Regardless, in a given state, most sign codes match the national standard. State-specific sign codes represent at most a small fraction of the signs in a given state, except in California, where signs have not been systematically renumbered to conform to the national standard.
State MUTCDs and SHSDs:
- Delaware 
- Indiana 
- Maryland 
- Michigan 
- Minnesota 
- Missouri 
- Texas 
- Alaska 
- Arizona 
- Colorado 
- Connecticut 
- District of Columbia 
- Idaho 
- Illinois 
- Massachusetts 
- Nebraska 
- Nevada 
- New York 
- North Carolina 
- Oklahoma 
- Oregon 
- Pennsylvania 
- Puerto Rico 
- South Carolina 
- Tennessee 
- Virginia 
- Washington 
- West Virginia 
- Wisconsin 
State ad-hoc sign listings:
Other highway departments with their own codified sign systems:
- Main article: /Markings
- Main article: /Signals
- United States/Road signs
- Sophox query for U.S. traffic signs by series and color based on traffic_sign=* and cross-referencing Wikidata
Notes and references
- ↑ Search for "signing". Not every signing policy has been assigned a sign code.
- Nguyen, Minh (April 1, 2022). “Lessons from the sign shop”. State of the Map U.S. 2022. Tucson, Arizona: OpenStreetMap U.S.
- Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, 2009 Edition with Revisions No. 1 and 2 Incorporated (May 2012)
- 2002 MUTCD sign chart
- 2004 Standard Highway Signs
- 2012 Standard Highway Signs supplement
- Synthesis of non-MUTCD traffic signing – 2005 FHWA report summarizing variant MUTCD standards in states and other countries
- Road signs of the United States by number
- How do engineers make ROAD SIGNS look the same?
- Lessons from the sign shop
#traffic-signschannel in OSMUS Slack