MUTCD Wiki:Rules and Guidelines

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Fundamental Rule

Like other wikis, this wiki is intended to be built and maintained by its users and contributors. However, to maximize its effectiveness, some general rules and guidelines are established to offer guidance and clarity.

The fundamental rule: This is a professional website. Act in a professional manner.

This site is used by and contributed to by professionals, practitioners, academics, researchers, enthusiasts, and other interested and informed parties. It's a professional resource, and information should be expressed in as clear and professional a manner as practicable. Users do not need to be employed in the field of transportation to offer valuable contributions, but all users are expected to contribute and participate in a professional manner.


This wiki is eventually intended to address the entirety of traffic control devices in the United States, past, present, and future. The subject matter need not be limited exclusively to the MUTCD itself, but also include related topics and references such as official rulings and interpretations, interim approvals, the Standard Highway Signs and Markings book, the FHWA MUTCD website, external references such as the Traffic Control Devices Handbook and research reports, and other relevant items. However, topics and content unrelated or only distantly related to traffic control devices may not be appropriate for inclusion in this wiki.

The MUTCD itself addresses the definition of each traffic control device. The MUTCD and other related references address how to use traffic control devices. This wiki can assist in complementing these references by incorporating why a device or treatment may have been proposed or evolved, and store historical information of the development and use of devices.

This wiki may also be useful as a valuable tool during the rulemaking process, where detailed information regarding proposed changes to the MUTCD can be recorded and discussed by practitioners and others, and help share knowledge to help shape informed commentary for submission to the docket.

State or local-agency-specific traffic control device information is appropriate for inclusion, but should be presented in an organized manner and follow the Fundamental Rule. When including material that applies only to specific agencies or states, care should be used to clarify that this information is applicable only in certain states or jurisdictions.


This wiki focuses on traffic control devices used in the United States of America, so American terminology should be used unless no comparable term or phrasing exists in American practice. The use of American English phrasing and spelling is preferred, unless referring to a specific term that uses non-American English spelling or phrasing.

Commonly-accepted terms used in the MUTCD or other authoritative roadway design and operational references (such as the Green Book) should be used whenever practicable. If there is an overlap between officially-accepted terminology in the practitioner community versus terms used by others, the officially-accepted terminology should be used.


  • Avoid the use of "big green sign" or "BGS" - instead use "highway guide sign" (or similar variant)
  • Avoid the use of "sharrow" - instead use "shared lane marking" (the clear and official name)
  • Avoid the use of "sign gantry" - instead use "sign structure", along with variants or modifiers as appropriate; i.e. "cantilever sign structure" or "sign bridge"
  • Avoid the use of "suicide lane" - instead use "reversible lane" or "passing lane", whichever is appropriate
  • Avoid the use of "carriageway" - instead use "roadway" or "traveled way" depending on context
  • Avoid the use of "bannered route" - instead refer to the specific type of special route (alternate, truck, etc). Also, the M series panels containing special route information, cardinal directions, directional arrows, etc. are correctly known as "auxiliaries", as noted in the MUTCD.

In this same vein, abbreviations or acronyms should be avoided unless the abbreviation/acronym is clear, well-defined, and unambiguous. Note that acronyms in common use in the field can be baffling to newcomers, so defining the acronym or abbreviation clearly in an appropriate manner is desirable by following good writing style by using the full term in the initial reference on a page and the acronym/abbreviation in subsequent references, or by referring to a glossary or official definition.


We all have opinions, and thrive on expressing them. That being said, follow the Fundamental Rule above when expressing opinions or other items in this wiki. Professional opinions based on practice, research, or objective observation can be valuable additions to a page. However, opinions based primarily on taste, aesthetics, or personal preference may not be as appropriate, and can detract from the professionalism and usefulness of a page. For example, a robust and wide-ranging discussion of the pros and cons of a device based on experience and research can be very educational. But by contrast content such as "which state route marker is best?" could easily lead to acrimony and a less-than-professional discussion.

Objectivity v. Advocacy

Whenever practicable, information should be presented in an objective manner, and opinion should be labeled as such. Advocacy for specific devices and treatments should be avoided, as advocacy can be seen as impairing objectivity. Instead, a full exposition of a device or treatment's advantages and disadvantages in a clear and objective manner can achieve the same goals without the need for advocacy-focused content.

Inline Links

Unlike the Wikipedia project, at this time relevant inline links in articles are permitted and not deprecated. If inline links become a problem in the future, this may be revisited.

Commercial Content

Given that traffic control devices are manufactured and distributed by commercial entities, some commercial content is expected. But references and content involving commercial entities should be objective, concise, and relevant, should not violate trademark and copyright laws, and should never read like a "sales pitch."


Example of appropriate commercial content:

  • "Avurbee Carbide is a manufacturer of Type XIII retroreflective sign sheeting."

Example of inappropriate commercial content:

  • "Avurbee Carbide's best-in-class Dooper Grade® sign sheeting is the highest-value choice in the Type XIII market, with an industry-leading 6-year warranty against narwhal attacks."


This wiki is still in an early developmental stage. Collaborative work on appropriate templates has not yet been initiated, but would be welcomed. Contact the site owner if you would like to assist with template formation and improvement.

Copyrights and Permissions

Content submitted by contributors is covered under the Creative Commons Attribution - ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

As a document published by the United States Government, the MUTCD and its content is in the public domain. However, related references, handbooks, and reports may be protected by copyright. When referencing, quoting, or including copyrighted material, follow fair use principles.