Just like arrow boards, message boards must adhere to minimum standards. These can be found in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). Your state could have additional requirements beyond that. Be sure to check with your local government agency. Section 6F-2 of the MUTCD states the following:


a. Design
Portable Changeable Message Signs (PCMS) are traffic control devices with the flexibility to display a variety of messages to fit the needs of road and street authorities. Each message consists of one or more displays. Portable Changeable Message signs are used most frequently on high density, urban freeways, but have applications on all types of highways where highway alignment, traffic routing problems or other pertinent conditions require advance warning and information.

1. Components: The components of a PCMS should include message sign panel, control systems, power source, and mounting and transporting equipment.

a. Message Sign Panel
PCMS cannot always conform to the exact sign shape, color, and dimensions specified in these standards. PCMS should subscribe to the principles established in the manual, and to the extent practicable, with the design (i.e., color, letter size and shape, and borders) and applications prescribed herein. The message sign panel can vary in size and may consist of one, two, or three lines. High-density urban freeways typically use three lines of eight characters per line. Each character module shall use, as a minimum, a five wide-pixel by seven high-pixel matrix. The front face of the sign should be covered with a protective material. Element colors for warning messages should be black on a yellow or orange background; for guide messages, white on a green background or black on an orange background; and for regulatory messages, black on a white background. Color reversals are also acceptable. The signs should be visible from 1/2 mile under ideal day and night conditions. Each sign message should be legible from all lanes, from the sign up to a minimum of 650 feet. In the field, the PCMS should be sited and aligned to optimize driver performance. The message panel should have adjustable flash rates, so that the entire message can be read at least twice at the posted speed, the off-peak 85th percentile speed prior to work starting, or the anticipated operating speed.
Under low light level conditions, the sign shall automatically adjust its light source so as to meet the legibility requirements and not impair the drivers, vision.

b. Control System
The control system shall include the following features:

• A display screen upon which messages can be reviewed before display on the message sign.
• A capability to provide an automatic programmed default message if power failure occurs.
• A backup battery to maintain memory when power is unavailable.

c. Power Source
The PCMS shall be equipped with a power source and a battery back-up to provide continuing operation when failure of the primary power source occurs.

d. Mounting
The mounting of the PCMS shall be such that the bottom of the message sign panel shall be a minimum of 7 feet above the roadway when it is in the operating mode.

Regulation Inquiry

This Page's Information was Last Updated on November, 2015
* On this webpage you will find information on regulations and specifications sourced from the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). While the information is updated as regularly as possible, Royal cannot accept responsibility for its reliability. For the most accurate and up-to- date information; contact your specific state department of transportation. Where possible, we provide contact information for the people that can answer these questions.

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