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Planning Guidance for the Installation and Use of Technology Devices for Transportation Operations and Maintenance

ENTERPRISE Transportation Pooled Fund Study


Dynamic Message Sign (DMS)

For purposes of the ITS device guidance process, DMS are defined as either fixed or portable signs capable of displaying any text message entered by an operator (either locally or through remote access).

The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) contains the national standards governing all traffic control devices. DMS (described as Changeable Message Signs in the MUTCD) are one traffic control device covered by the MUTCD (MUTCD 2009 Edition Chapter 2L. Changeable Message Signs. In MUTCD Section 2L:

Section 2L.01 addresses the description of Changeable Message Signs;

Section 2L.02 addresses applications of Changeable Message Signs;

Section 2L.03 addresses legibility and visibility of Changeable Message Signs;

Section 2L.04 addresses design characteristics of Changeable Message Signs;

Section 2L.05 addresses message length and information of Changeable Message Signs:

Section 2L.06 addresses installation of permanent Changeable Message Signs.

The planning guidelines are intended to be an additional tool to assist agencies in the decision process of selecting when and where to deploy DMS technologies, based up the experiences of agencies that have previously deployed DMS.

Engineering judgment should be used to asses potential implications that may result from installation of DMS. This planning guidance does not mandate the use of DMS.

The guidelines do not distinguish between types of DMS (portable, overhead, roadside).  Rather the intent of the guidelines are to contribute to the understanding of the need for some type of DMS.  Detailed design would contribute to the selection of the specific DMS type.

Eight (8) guidelines have been identified to capture the most common uses of DMS. While there are other purposes and uses for DMS, the guidelines developed to date have focused on the following eight. If you have suggestion of additional DMS guidelines please contact us.


DMS Guideline - 1:

To Inform Travelers of Weather Conditions


DMS Guideline- 2:

To Inform Travelers of Traffic Conditions


DMS Guideline - 3:

Changing Traffic Control or Conditions

  Purpose:To provide road weather information to drivers so that the drivers can choose whether to continue travel on the route or whether to adjust their speed, route of travel, or divert from the trip in anticipation of an upcoming weather hazard.   Purpose:To provide current traffic status information (incidents, congestion, travel time, road work) to drivers so that drivers can choose to divert to avoid the situation, to reduce driver anxiety, and to reduce crashes involving drivers encountering unexpected stopped traffic.   Purpose: To notify drivers in advance of special changing traffic conditions and roadway configuration changes associated with road construction or maintenance in order to reduce driver confusion that could result in a crash.  

DMS Guideline - 4:

Special Events


DMS Guideline - 5:

Parking Availability


DMS Guideline - 6:

Transit Park and Ride Lot Availability

  Purpose: To provide parking or alternate route information about special events or major venues to drivers in order to reduce congestion and delays due to unnecessary "circling the block" or non-participating drivers being caught in traffic.   Purpose: To provide real time parking availability information to drivers to avoid unnecessary "circling the block" looking for parking spots.   Purpose: To provide real time parking availability information to drivers regarding transit park and ride lots.  

DMS Guideline - 7:

Evacuation Routes


DMS Guideline - 8:

Jurisdictional Information

  Purpose: To provide evacuation route information to drivers during disaster or homeland security events.   Purpose: To provide jurisdictional specific information to drivers at or near borders between two jurisdictions.      
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