The 5 Biggest Changes in the MUTCD 11th Edition

Back to Our blog

Share This Post:


If you’re a traffic safety professional, it’s highly likely that you know exactly what the MUTCD is — as well as its importance in the transportation industry. But for those of you who might not be as familiar, or need a refresher, the MUTCD (Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices) is a Federal Highway Administration-issued document defining the minimum national standards for traffic control devices. 

In December 2023, The FHWA released a long-awaited update, changing quite a bit across the board. The MUTCD 11th edition includes new guidance on a variety of topics, from pedestrian safety measures to speed limit setting. Other additions address how traffic safety has evolved since the 2009 edition, or simply change the status of emerging treatments from interim-approved to MUTCD-approved. But with 14 years’ worth of changes in the new edition, there’s a lot to digest. Luckily, we’re here to help you get started. 

What’s New in the MUTCD 11th Edition? 

At TAPCO, we’ve been just as excited as everyone else following the release of the MUTCD 11th edition (hello, RRFBs!) and wasted no time diving in. But we know an 1100-page document is a lot to sift through — so we went ahead and did it for you. Read on for an overview of the biggest changes impacting how you safety plan in your community. 


Section 4L

It’s official: RRFBs are now included in the MUTCD, replacing the FHWA’s Interim Approval 21. With a yielding rate of up to 98%, RRFBs are approved as supplemental measure at uncontrolled pedestrian, school and trail crossings — but that’s not all (FHWA). RRFBs can also be utilized for crosswalks at free flow turn lanes and at intersections with multiple crosswalks on the same uncontrolled approach. Like with the IA-21, the RRFBs should flash in a wig-wag plus simultaneous (WW+S) flash pattern.  

In instances where an audible information device (AID) is used in tandem with an RRFB crosswalk (as well as flashing beacons and in-road warning lights), the speech message should state “Warning lights are flashing, instead of “Yellow lights are flashing, two times upon activation. 

Speed Limits


While not all guidance surrounding the use of the 85th percentile rule has been removed in the 11th edition of the MUTCD, there are new considerations in place when it comes to speed limit setting. The manual now states that the 85th percentile should not be used on urban and suburban arterials, and instead should consider:

  • Roadway environment 
  • Roadway characteristics 

  • Geographic context 

  • Reported crash experience 

  • Speed distribution of free-flowing vehicles 

  • A review of past speed studies 

Like with the previous edition, guidance on speed limit setting still states that an engineering study shall be performed to establish a road’s speed limit. 

Changeable Message Signs

Section 2L 

The topic of roadway sign messaging has been widely debated — and now, the 11th edition of the MUTCD has provided guidance on the discussion. The new standard for changeable message signs only allows traffic operational, regulatory, warning and guidance information in its messaging.

And while it’s stated that messages not related to traffic control — such as advertisements — shall not be displayed, there’s more. The MUTCD also adds that messages containing obscure or secondary meanings (particularly pop culture references) should not be displayed, so as not to confuse drivers. While we’ll miss seeing messages like “Hocus pocus, drive with focus,” moving toward more direct language ensures all drivers can understand their meaning. 

Accessible Pedestrian Signals 

4K, 4D 

When it comes to APS, one of the most notable changes — aside from getting its own chapter — is the MUTCD removing guidance that required an engineering study to determine if APS was needed. Instead, the MUTCD 11th edition now refers transportation planners to the American with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1974 as a basis for when to use APS. Additionally, pedestrian signal heads are now recommended at crosswalks when controlled by traffic control signals — and based on engineering judgement, can even be used in other locations. 

Crosswalk Markings


In an effort to better protect vulnerable road users, the MUTCD offers lots of new guidance for crosswalk markings. To start, legally established crosswalks at non-intersection locations are now required to have crosswalk markings. In instances where crosswalks are controlled by traffic signals, markings should be installed. Additionally, the manual now states that engineering studies should be performed for uncontrolled crossings before crosswalk markings are established and should consider criteria that includes vulnerable road user usage, traffic, design and visibility.  

Crosswalk marking patterns are getting an update, too: High-visibility crosswalk markings are now recommended for all uncontrolled crosswalks, but they can also be utilized at crosswalks where enhanced visibility is desired. On the other hand, transverse crosswalk markings should now be limited to crosswalks located at intersections or stop and yield signs. As for their size? The width of crosswalk markings shall be at least six feet — unless it’s an uncontrolled crosswalk on a road with a speed limit of 40 mph or more, which shall then be at least eight feet. 

When does the MUTCD 11th edition go into effect?

The 11th edition of the MUTCD went into effect on January 18th, 2024. But not to worry — this doesn’t mean your community’s traffic control devices that are no longer MUTCD-compliant must be taken down immediately. Instead, the FHWA gives all states two years from its effective date to adopt the MUTCD 11th edition as their legal state standard.  


Need help getting started? We’d love to chat more about how we can assist. 

Robert Kurka

TAPCO | Product Manager

With over a decade in business development, marketing and product management, Robert strives to improve transportation safety through innovation.

He is a pedestrian safety solutions expert who especially enjoys working with the TAPCO family to develop lifesaving products and solutions, such as the SafeWalk® Crosswalk Illuminator and the VizMark™ Pavement Marking Enhancement.

Don't forget to share this post!

Safe travels.® Blog

Where community members and industry leaders learn about traffic safety.

Read Safe travels.® Blog