This site is dedicated in support of sound engineering practices and the Highway Safety Act of 1966.
In 1966, Congress passed a law that required all traffic control devices on public roadways in the nation be based on sound engineering principles, practices and have a common basis in fact determination, appearance and application. These mandates are found in Title 23, United States Code, Section 109(d) and Title 23, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 655.601 through 655.603. In this Act’s remedy, Congress specifically preempted all state laws to facilitate the adoption of a uniform NATIONAL traffic control standard – The National Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).
The goal in 1966 was to return safety decisions to those that base their decisions only on findings of fact that have proven to make us safer; with uniform nationwide continuity of meaning and expectation. They expanded the FHWA domain over construction of the nation's highways to include all traffic control on them.
In this Act, Congress entrusted this responsibility solely to licensed traffic engineering professionals and their institutions, because the tenets of their profession require studies to test a thesis, peer review and verification before a standard, practice, procedure or principle can be incorporated into their engineering body of working knowledge.
This Act is under direct political attack! In fact, public safety has lost, but it is not too late. We need your help – please read the following report to clearly understand how to fight this, and win.
How to Make Our Roadways More Efficient and Safer, Too!
It’s already the law, all we have to do is apply it. Foundations for a Court Challenge to Make it Happen.
By Chad Dornsife,
Best Highway Safety Practices Institute
July, 15 2006 PDF Version
In the latest edition of the MUTCD, the FHWA engineering staff succumbed to executive political pressure – in clear violation of its oversight charter (Highway Safety Act of 1966) and federal law. With the checks and balances of the oversight committee eliminated, they now have returned to KNOWN UNSAFE PRACTICES and eliminated (by reference) basic traffic safety engineering tenets, decades of fact based engineering findings and critical highway design oversight.
In response to a series of letters voicing concern over many of these issues, (speed limits, traffic signals, stop signs, unauthorized signs placed on roadways, etc.) the head of the FHWA MUTCD section stated they are no longer required to follow sound engineering practices in its opinions or standards. When queried on how these obvious violations of sound engineering practices got through the National Joint Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices approval process, we were informed that these former gatekeepers and arbitrators of sound engineering practices and standards are “advisory only” now, and that the FHWA no longer needs its approval. The FHWA also refused to intervene (enforce the law) in regards to a clear escalation in the use of non-conforming (illegal) and unnecessarily dangerous devices.
Further the FHWA’s parent agency, using the “S” word (safety) in the US DOT’s quest to support its self serving political programs (read money from congress and do good publicity), have ordered the abandonment of sound engineering practices, institutionalized FHWA inaction, neglect and are causing increased congestion and significantly increased air pollution – worse yet, they are now directly responsible for large numbers of unnecessary injuries and deaths – reversing years of declining injury and fatality rates.
Adding to this sad state of affairs, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has become the primary backer and beneficiary of this assault on fact–based engineering principles and practices. It has taken over control of highway research because it didn’t like the findings of the independent contract research engineers. It has actually blocked publication of studies that didn’t support its goals, ordered studies with a stated goal to undermine sound practices, threatened employees with job loss if data is released, stopped research, published purported studies that excluded test sections where the results did not support its objectives, lied to congress, published other purported studies where they quote completely out of context findings and weigh unscientific reports with greater import than verified findings, effectively black–balled researchers who wouldn’t succumb, in concert with its advertising agency invents–a–crisis and then the mandate–to–intervene and routinely conspires to circumvent federal law to obtain its objectives. The NHTSA has metamorphosed into a pure propaganda agency where the end justifies the means regardless of the facts or methods used and whose entire mandate and legacy is based largely on its own manufactured URBAN MYTHS, INEFFECTIVE SOLUTIONS and UNSAFE PRACTICES.
In addition to this attack on this Act, the FHWA has adopted a policy of non–confrontation and unless forced to, it will not act even when clear violations are obvious. It gets worse, most states have adopted Title 23 mandates in a single sentence or paragraph without referencing Title 23 in the controlling state statute. Generally for those states that have done as suggested under Title 23 and inserted the recommended federal language, it fails to convey its full meaning and importance; in many other states this language is decades old and referenced in, making it even less clear. In the rest of the states, this authority in state law is delegated to the state DOT by that state’s legislature and/or local authorities without mentioning this mandate in statute or its volumes of guidelines, national standards and guiding canons of the engineering profession that must be followed.
Consequently, in every state, perfunctory administrators routinely certify compliance with the Title 23 to receive its benefits, while its mandates remain virtually unknown to the legislators and every other political entity within the state exercising regulatory and policing powers. Resulting in widespread non–compliance with the law, confusion and chaos when the issue is raised!
This federal law, Title 23 and its MUTCD is an ironic twist on federal government preemption. The drafters knew that safety is best served when the actual road being regulated is reviewed taking into account all factors. Traffic engineering studies are the cornerstone of basis–in–fact finding as to what traffic control devices or safety mitigation may be warranted. Because, without a study, all traffic control is based on unfounded conjecture and safety is compromised.
Basic tenets of Engineering Profession’s view of traffic control laws. Laws protect the public by regulating unreasonable or unsafe actions. Actions of a reasonable person should be legal. Most people drive in a safe and reasonable manner. Laws cannot be effectively enforced without the public consent and voluntary compliance. Further, the United States Constitution requires that laws be fact–based. A non–fact–based law violates due process. Why? Due process includes the notion that, on science and engineering issues and such type issues, only facts will be presented in court, not myth, not speculation.
This Federal law says according to LOCAL conditions, after engineers have personally determined how the people who use that particular section of highway are driving and they have reviewed the highway facilities, existing traffic control devices and accident data. Then they are directed to apply nationally accepted and verified sound engineering practices to remedy any problems and best manage the flow for the conditions found – not conjecture from Washington, State Capitals or Local Politicians.
This site is open to all that would like to contribute to the promise of the MUTCD. It is the LAW OF THE LAND and laws established contrary to its charter by any authority except Congress itself are unlawful. Not only are we going to post as much data, reports, studies as we can on engineering studies, establishment of speed limits, warrants for stop signs and traffic signals etc., we are also going to post copies of court arguments where these unsafe practices have been challenged.
If you have an area of expertise or interest and would like to contribute, please contact us. You can also support by joining the National Motorists Association, an organization dedicated to protecting your rights by advocating sound engineering practices and scientific findings over unfounded political conjecture. We donate our support to the NMA – any support in this endeavor is always appreciated!