The National Academies

NCHRP 20-07/Task 271 [Completed]

Graphical Traffic Signal Design Aid Based on the MUTCD
[ NCHRP 20-07 (Research for AASHTO Standing Committee on Highways) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $75,000
Research Agency: University of Idaho
Principal Investigator: Ahmed Abdel-Rahim
Effective Date: 5/19/2009
Completion Date: 5/19/2012


The objective of this project is to graphically present signal design options in a way that makes it easier to comply with the MUTCD and as a result, promote uniformity in signal design across the U.S. and help reduce crashes at traffic signals.  More specifically, to create software that will show a drawing of the acceptable number, location, and configuration of signal heads and indications, as well as mandatory regulatory signs, for common intersection approach configurations input by the user.  The software should show the safest (as determined by research) as well as other common MUTCD-compliant layouts.  Development of this software should be coordinated with MUTCD development and be ready for distribution soon after publication of the next MUTCD.  It is expected that the software will be made available through the FHWA's MUTCD website.

The final software has been delivered to the FHWA for their consideration in making it available on the MUTCD website.

The MUTCD text defining requirements for traffic signal head location and configuration is complicated and will become more complicated with the 2009 MUTCD. Consequently, it may be misinterpreted and/or misapplied, resulting in non-compliant and non-uniform signal designs. 
Tasks anticipated in this project include the following:

Task 1. Create easy-to-use software that shows a drawing of signal design options from the viewpoint of a driver at the approach stop bar, that includes:  (a) Number of signal heads, (including overhead, side mounted, and near side mounted); (b) Location of signal heads (typically either lane center or lane line);  (c) Signal indication type (R,Y,G circular; R,Y,G arrow; Flashing Yellow Arrow; etc.); and (d) All regulatory signs required by MUTCD Standard to be mounted on signal mastarms or poles.  Both the input and the output should be brief, approximately one page in length.  The output of the software should clearly identify what is required and recommended by the MUTCD.

Task 2.  Create a list of the safest (as determined by research) and most common signal design options allowed by the MUTCD.

Task 3.  Determine which options to display and code them into the program. 

Task 4.  Submit the software to the FHWA for approval, making changes as they request. 

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