PennDOT Promotes Safety with Sign Replacement Program

- Oil City – Roadside traffic signs are the focus of a safety initiative in PennDOT District 1’s six-county area of Erie, Crawford, Venango, Mercer, Forest and Warren counties.
District 1 is participating in a Sign Replacement Management program to ensure that roadside traffic signs have sufficient visibility to provide vital information to travelers both day and night.

The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, (MUTCD) sets the standards PennDOT uses for traffic control devices and the 2013 edition, for the first time, specifies a minimum retro reflectivity level and methods to ensure compliance. Retro reflectivity is the light that bounces back when vehicle headlights hit a sign, making the sign bright and easy to read.

To comply with the standard, PennDOT has decided to replace signs when they reach their expected life. That procedure was judged more cost-effective and less labor intensive than other management procedures such as using an inspector to check individual signs.

When signs are installed, the installation date is recorded and the age will be compared to the expected life of the specific sign. Expected sign life is based on the experience of sign retro reflectivity degradation in a geographic area, the color of the sign (some colors such as red signs fade sooner than others like the orange signs which last a long time), and other factors.

Traffic signs that PennDOT uses generally have a service life of about 18 years. About 2.3 percent of the traffic signs in District 1’s counties are older than 18 years, and these will be replaced by the end of 2014.

Examples of signs that are not included in this program are parking signs, walking/hitchhiking/crossing signs, Adopt-a-Highway signs, all signs with blue or brown backgrounds, and bikeway signs intended for exclusive use of bicyclists or pedestrians.

Damaged or defaced signs will still be cleaned or replaced as PennDOT learns of them.

It is against the law to interfere with road devices, signs or signals under the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code. Violations of that law could result not only in fines, but also requirement for restitution if a missing or damaged sign results in personal injury or property damage.

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