Which Handicap Parking Signs do You Need?
All official parking and traffic signs must meet the requirements explained in the Federal Highway Administration’s Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) requires that every state must adopt the MUTCD or develop a state MUTCD/MUTCD supplement that is in "substantial conformance with the national manual." To learn more and see a state-by-state guide, check out the FHWA’s resource page on the topic.
In states that have adopted the national MUTCD standards, using the federally recognized MUTCD R7-8 reserved parking sign is enough for compliance. These reserved parking signs meet the standards set in MUTCD Section 2B.40.
There are some states which also require additional signage that displays information regarding penalties for drivers who illegally park in accessible spaces or for other restrictions. See an example of a required penalty sign in New Jersey:
States that have adopted the national MUTCD with their own additional supplements display signage that is similar to the federal signage. In general, these signs can only vary in legend, image proportion, or size.
These signs are able to display supplemental text pertaining to penalties or restrictions directly on the reserved parking sign, instead of requiring the use of a supplemental parking sign.
Last but not least, some states have developed their own MUTCD. These requirements must be reviewed and deemed compliant by the FHWA before they may take effect.
To reiterate, each state MUTCD must be "in substantial conformance with the National Manual,” and be approved by the FHWA. There are very few states that have adopted their own MUTCD, and the majority of their sign designs look very similar to the federal MUTCD versions.
While some accessible parking signs may look quite different from one another, each of these reserved parking signs accomplishes the same goal: to provide accessible parking to those who might need it.
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