How to Choose the Right Size Traffic Safety Sign for Your Roadway

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Standards for traffic sign sizes are established by the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). The MUTCD contains specifications for every aspect of traffic safety signs, from their size and color to their placement on the roadway. When determining size guidelines, the MUTCD takes many important factors into consideration, such as the type of sign, the kind of roadway it's on and the speed of the roadway.

Companies such as TAPCO offer a variety of traffic sign sizes within those limitations set by the MUTCD. TAPCO’s Standard STOP Sign (R1-1), for instance, is available in five sizes, ranging from 18 inches by 18 inches to 48 inches by 48 inches. But how do you decide which size is best for your specific location?

A sales representative can help provide a recommendation, but understanding for yourself which factors to consider when deciding on sign size will allow you to obtain better purchase outcomes and safer roadways.

That’s why we’ve broken down the three most important roadway characteristics to factor into your decision.

1. The Speed Limit of the Roadway

The speed limit of the roadway should have the largest impact on the size of a traffic safety sign. The MUTCD factors speed into their limitations for sign sizes, determining a range of sizes to work within. From there, consider opting for a larger size on faster roadways to give speeding drivers a better chance of comprehending the sign’s message or warning. Likewise, smaller signs are adequate on slower roadways.

2. The Size of the Roadway

Expansive freeways and expressways with multiple lanes of traffic can benefit from larger traffic safety signs. If there are three or more lanes of traffic, drivers may need larger signs to capture their attention from a distance.

3. The Busyness of the Roadway

Larger signs are also better suited for busy roadways with heavy traffic. A busy road often indicates a higher rate of distracted drivers. Large traffic safety signs can help combat drivers’ inattention by reminding them of speed limits, alerting them of a one-way road or informing them about a weight limit.


If you’re unsure how to select the right size for your traffic safety sign, don’t just select the most popular option. Consider these three important factors to choose a sign that fits your roadway's unique needs.

Kate Bert

TAPCO | Product Manager

Kate is a wrong-way alert and overheight warning systems expert dedicated to providing customers with innovative products, knowledge and guidance.

She has extensive experience in engineering, operations and product management and is passionate about collaborating with the team to develop lifesaving solutions to ensure safe travel for all users.

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