New federal road guidelines may lead to safer roads, reduced auto insurance claims

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A major revision of a road safety design manual could reduce accidents and auto insurance claims

The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices was long due for an upgrade, Transportation Department officials decided, and safer roads and lower auto insurance costs may follow its recent revision.

The DOT announced this week that the MUTCD, which regulates the design of road signs, stoplights, crosswalks and other roadway features, was undergoing its first revision since 2003. The updated standards "will help make our nation's roads and bridges safer for drivers, construction workers and pedestrians alike," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said.

Years of road safety research are included in the update, the DOT says, and seven of the manual's changes reflect recommendations given by the National Transportation Safety Board.

New regulations include changes to the safety vests worn by construction crews; longer walk times in crosswalks; and larger, brighter highway signs.

Road markings will be made clearer and purple will appear for the first time on federal highways in the signs for electronic toll lanes. The changes should contribute to increased road safety, Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez anticipates.

"Adopting the lessons learned in recent years will help make roads safer for everyone," he said.

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Posted: December 16, 2009

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