The Importance of Using MUTCD Compliant Detour Signs
Alerting motorists and pedestrians of roadwork, traffic detours or other potentially hazardous conditions is critical to maintaining driver and pedestrian safety on highways and local roads. Easy-to-read signs indicating detours and roadwork in progress are a vital tool for preventing accidents and injury, as well as ensuring the safety of the crews working in these potentially dangerous environments.
While it may seem like a simple matter of erecting a few orange signs, detour planning can be surprisingly complex. Not only must the closest alternative routes and length of time a route will be closed be taken into consideration, but all signage must meet the specific standards outlined in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).
Setting National Standards for Traffic Control Devices
Published by the Federal Highway Administration, the MUTCD is designed to ensure uniformity of traffic control devices – such as signs, signals and pavement markings – to promote safer, more efficient travel. It covers sign types, materials, designs, colors, sizes and supports, as well as requirements for placement, installation and management. This includes warning signs used in what the manual refers to as temporary traffic control (TTC) zones to notify drivers and pedestrians of general or specific conditions on or adjacent to a roadway.
All traffic control devices used for construction, maintenance, utility or incident management operations must comply with the applicable provisions in the manual. Devices used in TTC zones should consider the needs of all road users, including bicyclists and pedestrians, and make worker safety and accessibility a high priority.
Ensuring that Detour Signage Meets MUTCD Requirements
A “Detour” sign is used ahead of a detour that directs traffic onto another street or highway in order to bypass a TTC zone. The MUTCD mandates that each detour be adequately marked with temporary route and destination signs, and outlines detailed standards for these warning signs. Not all detour signs can be used interchangeably.
For instance, signs developed exclusively for incident management such as “Detour” or “Road Work Ahead” must have an orange background. Diamond-shaped detour signs should indicate the distance from the sign to the detour, such as 1,000 feet or half a mile. The detour “Arrow” sign can be mounted just below a “Road Closed” sign or at the top of a route or street sign to mark a short-term route that circumvents a TTC zone. It can also be used without route signs to guide road users along the detour and back to the desired highway.
There are many types of detour signs, including “End Detour” and “Pedestrian/Bicycle Detour”, so it’s best to consult the latest edition of the MUTCD to determine the type of sign required for a particular purpose and the applicable standards so that you maintain compliance.
MUTCD-Compliant Signs and Portable Sign Stands for Every Project
At Traffic Safety Direct, we carry a broad range of aluminum and roll-up construction and traffic signs that meet MUTCD requirements for design, height, reflectivity and placement. Our standard aluminum signs, many of which are available in 36 and 48-inch sizes, include “Road Work Ahead” and a variety of “Detour” signs.
Roll-up traffic signs resemble traditional signs, but they are made from lighter materials with the durability to withstand extreme weather conditions. Our standard reflective roll-up traffic signs include "Detour Ahead" and other warning signs.
We also carry portable sign stands that are easy to transport, assemble and store, making setup and cleanup faster. The 4860K Windmaster Sign Stand is designed to accommodate aluminum and roll-up signs. It has dual springs for wind resistance and features a patented BreakAway® system which allows the vertical upright to break away from the stand on impact.
The Zephyr portable sign stand is designed for use with 36 and 48-inch roll-up signs. Stable and skid-resistant, it has a steel plate molded into a large recycled rubber base and it “spills the wind” – making it well-suited to gusty conditions. The SafeZone Series SZ-412 Springless Sign Stand is a super lightweight, springless sign stand with independently adjustable telescopic legs, anti-skid footpads and three height adjustments. It is ideal for use on uneven terrain and along right of ways and medians.