Fluorescent yellow-green warning signs for pedestrian, school, and bicycle crossings

Cherie Kittle
Transportation Specialist
FHWA Office of Transportation Operations

Background

The Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Office of Transportation Operations continues to optimize the performance of the transportation system by ensuring consistency on our roadways.

In 1992, the FHWA initiated a pilot study in conjunction with the National Park Service that examined the effects of the new color signs on motorist behavior at five pedestrian and bicycle crossings in the Washington, D.C., area. Results indicated an increase in motorists slowing and stopping for pedestrians and bicyclists and conflicts decreased.

In 1993, FHWA conducted a two-year study nationwide to evaluate this color on pedestrian, school, and bicycle crossing signs. A total of 57 jurisdictions were given permission to experiment in this study; 24 jurisdictions completed the experimentation and provided final reports. Our review of the studies and data indicate that fluorescent yellow-green (FYG) warning signs improved the conspicuity of the sign message, and motorists were able to recognize the sign from greater distances than the standard yellow warning sign. Many studies did not find significant changes in speed data, but motorists frequently commented that the signs caught the attention of the driver from a greater distance and were more aware of what was going on around them.

On June 7, 1996, a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was published proposing the adoption of FYG as an optional color for pedestrian, school, and bicycle crossing signs. A total of 141 comments were received with 100 favorable comments received from local governments, including police departments and public school systems, in addition to special interest groups and the general public.

On June 19, 1998, a Notice of Amendment to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) was published in the Federal Register which adopted FYG for optional use for warning signs related to pedestrian, bicycle, and school applications.

Color background

Fluorescent yellow-green was one of four unassigned colors that the FHWA had reserved for future applications. Studies indicate that fluorescent retroreflective materials are detected with higher frequency, and recognized with greater accuracy at further distances, than the corresponding standard highway colors. This is due to its greater luminance contrast with its surroundings. Pedestrian/bicycle-motor vehicle crashes continue to be a safety problem on our roads. FHWA believed a unique, unassigned color would be most effective in altering motorist behavior and reducing conflicts with pedestrians and bicyclists.

Safety benefits

The use of FYG for pedestrian, bicycle, and school applications supports the Department of Transportation’s Strategic Safety Goal to promote public health and safety by working toward elimination of transportation-related deaths, injuries, and property damage.

FYG also supports the FHWA strategic goal that targets pedestrian/bicycle as a national priority because this type of crash accounts for 15 percent of all fatalities. The plan calls for an improvement (reduction in number, rate, and severity) in this area.

Recent physical fitness trends promote walking and bicycling. Emphasis must be placed on utilizing state-of-the-art retroreflective fluorescent signage materials to better communicate with motorists that pedestrians and bicyclists are using the roadway with them.

Pedestrians and bicyclists represent significant areas of concern in transportation that would be well served by a unique color for traffic control devices.

This is not a standalone effort, but part of our overall goal of optimizing performance through innovation, technology, communications, and partnering with the local community.

For more information, contact Cherie Kittle at 202-366-2188 or cherie.kittle@fhwa.dot.gov.

 

Summary

Users of FYG Sheeting Material

STATE DOT

STATE*

CITY/COUNTY

SIGN MFGR

FEDERAL**

OTHER

32

10

352

157

1

42

* State Universities & Corrections Facilities

** Military Installation