Signal Spotlights: 3D Crosswalks MUTCD Update

traffic_signal_spotlights_logo I’ve heard about a crosswalk design that simulates 3-dimensional (3-D) objects in the roadway. Is such a concept compliant with the MUTCD?


This concept does not comply with the MUTCD. As a result of demonstrated safety concerns, the FHWA is no longer considering field experimentation with “3-D” crosswalk designs. The FHWA had previously approved field experimentation with “3-D” markings until one such experiment showed unintended—and potentially dangerous—effects. A significant percentage of drivers swerved upon seeing the markings, perhaps perceiving them to be real raised objects on the roadway. While this type of driver reaction did decrease over time, the experiment showed that more than one in ten drivers might make an evasive or erratic maneuver upon experiencing this or similar installations for the first time. The results suggest that a “3-D” marking design can result in unsafe behavior by drivers. If the design is effective at portraying a 3-dimensional object and drivers believe there are real raised objects on the roadway, it is a reasonable expectation that drivers will take evasive action, such as braking abruptly, in fear of colliding with the perceived obstruction. This type of driver reaction is, in fact, what the experiment showed. The potential for a significant percentage of drivers to react unpredictably is too great a risk to allow further field experimentation.


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The Training & Technical Assistance Center at UCONN provides education and technical assistance to members of Connecticut's Transportation and Public Safety Community, including municipal public works directors, street and road maintenance superintendents and staff, city and town engineers, Connecticut Department of Transportation employees, transportation planners and law enforcement professionals serving as legal traffic authorities. We are Connecticut's LTAP Center
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