Slow Signs
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The MUTCD and Slow Signs

Commonplace wisdom gives us lots of excuses to slow down: smelling the roses, getting the job done right, chewing our food mindfully, and so forth. On the road there are, if anything, more reasons to go slow: most car accidents occur because drivers are moving at such high speeds that they don't have sufficient time to brake fully in the face of hazards.

Given that car crashes kill some 30,000 people each year in the U.S., urging drivers to lay off the accelerator is clearly a high priority for the federal government. In hopes of reducing accidents, the Department of Transportation’s Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) contains warning signs for every possible “slow down” scenario, from road conditions (icy bridges) and “horizontal alignment” changes (curves) to school zones.

In the MUTCD, each category of “go slow” signs receives its own letter-and-number code. The code informs municipalities and individuals of the sign’s wording, shape, color, and meaning. For example, all school-related speed warnings are designated by the letter S. As described in Section 7 of the MUTCD, the yellow-and-black, diamond-shaped “school zone” sign is called S1, while a “reduce speed school zone ahead” sign – which is rectangular but adheres to the same color rules – is designated as S4-5.

The majority of slow signs fall into omega replica the Warnings, or W, category, which is outlined in Section 2 of the MUTCD. Signs in the W1 category, which refer to curves and turns in the road, will look familiar to most drivers: these ubiquitous yellow-and-black signs indicate hairpin turn, truck rollover risk, 270-degree turn, and other “horizontal alignment” issues; chevron alignments (those large yellow-and-black arrows lining sharp curves) also fall into the W1 category.

Categories W8 and W11 will probably be more familiar to country drivers. W8 represents pavement and roadway conditions with signs like High Crosswinds, Bridge may be Icy, Falling Rock, Slide Area, and the like. The W11 category contains indications for warnings about animals crossing, tractors in the road, and horse-drawn vehicles.

Slow Paddles
Slow paddles, like the one carried by this construction worker, are another MUTCD-mandated use of slow signage.
Home|The MUTCD and slow signs |Varieties of slow signs|The origins of the yield sign
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