Controlling the Roadway: Signs, Markings, and Signals



Prytherch examines the foundational Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), which employs symbolic communication and physical engineering to shape the social space of the street. These federally enforced standards for uniform traffic control translate societal assumptions and legal principles into signage, retroreflective markings, and traffic signals, which in turn choreograph the way people move and interact on the street. Like standards of geometric design and quality of service, the details of the MUTCD reveal the complex mobility politics underlying traffic control, and how knowledge of these technical standards can provide a tool for reimagining the American street.


  1. American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. 2017. History of the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (NCUTCD). Accessed 23 June 2017.
  2. Federal Highway Administration. 2012. Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. Washington, DC. Accessed 7 July 2017.
  3. ———. 2017. FHWA Strategic Plan. Washington, DC. Publication Number: FHWA-PL-08-027.Google Scholar
  4. National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices or NCUTCD. 2017. National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices Bylaws. Accessed 7 July 2017.
  5. Weingroff, Richard. 2016. A Great Day in America: USDOT’s 50th Anniversary. Public Roads 80 (2). Federal Highway Administration.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.GeographyMiami UniversityOxfordUSA

Personalised recommendations