|MIXTURE OF TRUE AND FALSE INFORMATION|
Examples: [Collected via e-mail, October 2010]
Is there nothing more important for the federal government to worry about than street signs? They have mandated... without any funding... that all municipalities change traffic signs to a combination of upper and lower case letters... have we not been able to read our signs until now? Have we been eternally lost?? Government needs to get a life ...vote
I heard a gentleman telling a friend that President Obama was in New York City and didn't like the fact that the street signs were spelled in all caps. He requested that Mayor Bloomberg change ALL the streets signs so they only began with a capital letter and he agreed, to the tune of $1mil+.
The conversation at the local scrap yard was about a mandate either Federal or Washington State requiring the change of all the street signs to ones that contain upper and lower case lettering (I guess most have all upper case lettering). This seemed so absurd I did not believe it but the scrap recyclers were excited about the huge amount of aluminum scrap that would be coming. Given the huge budget shortfalls and proposed cutbacks by most everyone, I find it offensive that someone is even payed to think about the font of the street signs. I sure hope this is just a rumor.
Origins: In October 2010, news outlets reported on new federal regulations regarding street and road signs that would be taking effect before the end of the decade, as exemplified by the following excerpt from the USA Today national newspaper:
Cash-starved localities also will have to dig deep for new, more reflective traffic signs to make them easier to see at night, especially by older drivers.
Under Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) regulations, communities have until 2015 to improve the nighttime visibility of roadside
One of the new Federal Highway Administration regulations, as outlined in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), addresses the retroreflectivity of traffic signs:
Retroreflectivity is used to allow drivers to more easily see vital traffic control devices in nighttime and low-light conditions.
A second — and distinctly different — FHWA regulation requires that newly-installed street name signs (or replacements for existing street name signs) must use a combination of upper and lower case letters rather than all upper case (i.e., capital) letters. Signs executed in predominantly lower case letters are
The conflation of regulations regarding these two new types of standards for signage — retroreflectivity and mixed case lettering — has created the impression that all states must change every street name sign to used mixed case lettering by the year 2015 (at considerable cost to those states). This impression is false. The only connection between these two standards is that if states have to replace some of their street name signs to meet the new retroreflectivity standards (which they are required to do by 2018), then those replacement signs must use mixed case lettering. Otherwise, there is currently no requirement that states remove and replace street name signs which use only upper case lettering — such signs may remain in place until they reach the end of their service lives.
Last updated: 14 November 2010
Copeland, Larry. "ALL CAPS? Not OK on Road Signs, Federal Government Says." USA Today. 21 October 2010