MUTCD HISTORY

Developed by H. Gene Hawkins, Jr., Ph.D., P.E.

Associate Professor of Civil Engineering

Texas A&M University

 

Last Updated: June 4, 2013

 

MUTCD-1935

MUTCD_War

MUTCD-1948

MUTCD-1961

MUTCD-1971

1935

1942

1948

1961

1971

MUTCD-1978

MUTCD-1988

2000 cover

2003cover

1978

1988

2000

2003

2009

 

One day in the late 1980s, I was rummaging through my parent’s garage and came across a 1948 MUTCD that my father used when he was a student at the Yale Bureau of Highway Traffic in the mid-1950s.  While perusing that document, I found that Stop signs were yellow, highway centerlines could be white, and green guide signs did not exist.  It was an eye-opening experience that led me to begin collecting old traffic engineering books.  In 1990, I was fortunate enough to acquire a copy of each edition of the national MUTCD from the Eno Foundation for Traffic Safety.  These documents provided great insight into how our current system of traffic control devices has evolved over several generations, insight which I felt was largely lost to our current generation of traffic engineers.  Armed with these documents, I put together a short paper and presentation on the history of the MUTCD, the paper appearing in the Compendium of Technical Papers for the 1991 ITE Annual Meeting in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  The response to this paper and presentation were so positive, I prepared a series of papers on MUTCD history for ITE Journal.  These papers are linked below courtesy of the Institute of Transportation Engineers.  I also prepared a description of the evolution of pavement marking color as part of an NCHRP research project on all-white pavement markings.

 

-          Evolution of the MUTCD: Part 1 - Early Standards for Traffic Control Devices, © Institute of Transportation Engineers, July 1992. Used by permission.

-          Evolution of the MUTCD: Part 2 - The Early Editions of the MUTCD, © Institute of Transportation Engineers, August 1992. Used by permission.

-          Evolution of the MUTCD: Part 3 - The MUTCD Since World War II, © Institute of Transportation Engineers, November 1992. Used by permission.

-          New Developments with the MUTCD, © Institute of Transportation Engineers, February 1994. Used by permission.

-          Evolution of the U.S. Pavement Marking System, A brief description of the evolution of pavement marking color was prepared as part of NCHRP Project 4-28 assessing the feasibility of an all-white pavement marking system.  A portion of this document was included as Appendix A in NCHRP Report 484. 

 

MUTCD History Presentations

 

In addition to the published material on MUTCD history, Gene Hawkins has made numerous presentations on the subject to a wide range of audiences.  These presentations are listed below.  A PDF version of some of the presentations is also provided. 

 

-          Evolution of the MUTCD and Critical Issues Related to the ‘09 Edition  Presented at the Greater Houston Section of the Texas Institute of Transportation Engineers, Houston, Texas, June 2012.

-          The MUTCD: Past, Present, and Future Presented at the 2010 ATSSA Annual Convention and Traffic Expo, San Antonio, Texas, February 2010.

-          The MUTCD: Where It’s Been and Where It’s Going.”  Presented to the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, Arlington, Virginia, January 2009.

-          The MUTCD: Where It’s Been and Where It’s Going.”  Presented to the Colorado-Wyoming Section of ITE, Denver, Colorado, May 9, 2008.

-          “Historical Perspective of the Role of Traffic Control Devices.” Keynote address at DeShazo Tang and Associates 25th Anniversary Dinner, November 19, 2005, Dallas Texas.

-          Brief History of the MUTCD.”  Presented at the 50th Anniversary Meeting, Texas Section of the Institute of Transportation Engineers, Austin, Texas, June 2004.

-          A Brief History of the MUTCD,” American Traffic Safety Services Association, Dallas, Texas, February 2002.

-          “A Brief History of the MUTCD.” Presented to the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, Portland, Maine, June 2001.

-          “A Brief History of the MUTCD.” Presented to the AASHTO Highway Subcommittee on Traffic Engineering, Portland, Maine, June 2001.

-          “History of Traffic Control Devices from a Human Factors Perspective.” Presented to the Traffic Control Devices Session, 30th Annual Human Factors Workshop, Transportation Research Board, Washington, D.C., January 1997.

-          “Traffic Signs: Past, Present, and Future.” Presented at the American Traffic Safety Services Association Annual Traffic Expo meeting, San Antonio, Texas, February 1995.

-          “History of the MUTCD.” Presented at the Houston Chapter of the Texas Section of the Institute of Transportation Engineers monthly meeting, Houston, Texas, December 1993.

-          “History of the MUTCD.” Presented at the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices Semi-Annual Meeting, Lake Tahoe, Nevada, June 1993.

-          “History of the MUTCD.” Presented at the Texas Section of the Institute of Transportation Engineers Section Meeting, Texas Section of the Institute of Transportation Engineers, Waco, Texas, January 1993.

-          “History of the MUTCD.” Presented at the Traffic Operations Conference, Texas Department of Transportation, Austin, Texas, June 1992.

-          “The Evolution of Standards for Traffic Control Devices.” Presented to the Committee on Traffic Control Devices, Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C., January 1992.

-          “The MUTCD from 1935 to 1988.” Presented at the Texas Section Fall Meeting, American Society of Civil Engineers, South Padre, Texas, October 1991.

-          “History of the National MUTCD.” Presented at the 61st Annual Meeting, Institute of Transportation Engineers, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, September 1991.

 

A generic MUTCD history PowerPoint presentation is provided below.  This file is provided to help practitioners share information about the history of the MUTCD.  You are welcome to use these slides in any presentations you wish, I ask only that you attribute the slides or the entire presentation to me and that you include the slide that references the additional information that is available on this web page. 

 

-          History of the MUTCD” PowerPoint presentation.

 

Links to Additional MUTCD Information

 

-          FWHA MUTCD web site

-          PDF version of full 2003 MUTCD, through Revision 1

-          PDF version of full 2003 MUTCD, through Revision 2

 

Links to TCD History Information Developed by Others

-          Information on the first centerline in the U.S.

 

 

Links to Previous Editions of the MUTCD

 

-          2003 and 2000 MUTCDs (link to previous editions on the FHWA website)

-          1988 MUTCD

-          1978 MUTCD (Richard Moeur Manual of Traffic Signs site)

-          1971 MUTCD (Richard Moeur Manual of Traffic Signs site)

-          1961 MUTCD (Richard Moeur Manual of Traffic Signs site)

-          1948 MUTCD (scan provided by FHWA)

s    1954 revision to the 1948 MUTCD (scan provided by FHWA)

-          1942 MUTCD (scan provided by FHWA)

-          1935 MUTCD (scan provided by FHWA)

s    1939 revision to the 1935 MUTCD (scan provided by FHWA)

-          1930 National Conference on Street and Highway Safety urban TCD manual (scan provided by FHWA)

-          AASHO Manual and Specifications for the Manufacture, Display, and Erection of U.S. Standard Road Markers and Signs (1927 edition and portions of later editions/revisions) (scan provided by FHWA)