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6E. HAND-SIGNALING CONTROL

6E-1. FUNCTION

The primary function of traffic control procedures is to move vehicles and pedestrians safely and expeditiously through or around temporary traffic control zones while protecting on- site workers and equipment.

6E-2. QUALIFICATIONS FOR FLAGGERS

Because flaggers are responsible for public safety and make the greatest number of public contacts of all highway workers, they should have the following minimum qualifications:

  • Sense of responsibility for the safety of the public and workers
  • Training in safe traffic control practices
  • Average intelligence
  • Good physical condition, including sight and hearing
  • Mental alertness and the ability to react in an emergency
  • Courteous but firm manner
  • Neat appearance

6E-3. HIGH-VISIBILITY CLOTHING

For daytime work, the flagger's vest, shirt, or jacket shall be orange, yellow, strong yellow green or fluorescent versions of these colors. For nighttime work, similar outside garments shall be retroreflective. The retroreflective material shall be orange, yellow, white, silver, strong yellow-green, or a fluorescent version of one of these colors and shall be visible at a minimum distance of 1,000 feet. The retroreflective clothing shall be designed to identify clearly the wearer as a person and be visible through the full range of body motions.

Uniformed law enforcement officers may be used as flaggers in some locations, such as an urban intersection, where enforcement of traffic movements is important. Uniformed law enforcement officers may also be used on freeways where traffic is channeled around work sites and it is necessary to assure that advisory and regulatory speeds are being enforced. For nighttime work and in low-visibility situations, a retroreflective garment as described above should be worn.

6E-4. HAND-SIGNALING DEVICES

Hand-signaling devices, such as STOP/SLOW paddles, lights, and red flags are used to control traffic through temporary traffic control zones. The STOP/SLOW paddle, which gives drivers more positive guidance than red flags, should be the primary hand-signaling device. The standard STOP/SLOW sign paddle shall be 18 inches square with letters at least 6 inches high. A rigid handle should be provided. This combination sign should be fabricated from light semi-rigid material, and shall have an octagonal shape. The background of the STOP face shall be red with white letters and border. To improve conspicuity, the STOP/SLOW paddles may be supplemented by one or two symmetrically positioned alternately flashing white high-intensity lamps on each side. The background of the SLOW face shall be orange with black letters and border. When used at night, the STOP/SLOW paddle shall be retroreflectorized in the same manner as signs.

Flag use should be limited to emergency situations and at low-speed and/or low-volume locations which can best be controlled by a single flagger. Flags used for signaling shall be a minimum of 24 inches square, made of a good grade of red material, and securely fastened to a staff about 3 feet long. The free edge should be weighted so the flag will hang vertically, even in heavy winds. When used at night, flags shall be retroreflective red.

6E-5. HAND-SIGNALING PROCEDURES

STOP/SLOW paddle and flag use are illustrated in figure VI-4. The following methods of signaling with STOP/SLOW paddles should be used:

  • To Stop Traffic-The flagger shall face traffic and extend the STOP sign paddle in a stationary position with the arm extended horizontally away from the body. The free arm should be raised with the palm toward approaching traffic.
  • To Direct Stopped Traffic to Proceed-The flagger shall face traffic with the SLOW paddle held in a stationary position with the arm extended horizontally away from the body. The flagger should motion with the free hand for traffic to proceed.
  • To Alert or Slow Traffic-The flagger shall face traffic with the SLOW sign paddle held in a stationary position with the arm extended horizontally away from the body. The flagger may motion up and down with the free hand, palm down, indicating that the vehicle should slow down.

The following methods of signaling with a flag should be used:

  • To Stop Traffic-The flagger shall face traffic and extend the flag staff horizontally across the traffic lane in a stationary position, so that the full area of the flag is visible hanging below the staff. The free arm should be raised with the palm toward approaching traffic.
  • To Direct Stopped Traffic to Proceed. The flagger shall face traffic with the flag and arm lowered from view of the driver. With the free hand, the flagger should motion traffic to proceed. Flags shall not be used to signal traffic to proceed.
  • To Alert or Slow Traffic. The flagger shall face traffic and slowly wave the flag in a sweeping motion of the extended arm from shoulder level to straight down, without raising the arm above a horizontal position.

6E-6. FLAGGER STATIONS

Flagger stations shall be located far enough ahead of the work space so that approaching traffic has sufficient distance to stop before entering the work space. Table VI-1, Guidelines for length of longitudinal buffer space, may be used for locating flagger stations in advance of the work space. This distance is related to approach speeds, friction factors, and pavement and tire conditions. These distances may be increased for downgrades.2

The flagger should stand either on the shoulder adjacent to the traffic being controlled or in the barricaded lane. At a "spot" obstruction, a position may have to be taken on the shoulder opposite the barricaded section to operate effectively. A flagger should stand only in the lane being used by moving traffic after traffic has stopped, and the flagger needs to be visible to other traffic or to communicate with drivers. Because of the various roadway geometrics, flaggers should be clearly visible to approaching traffic at all times. For this reason the flagger should stand alone.


2Table 111-2. A Policy on Geometric Design of Highways and Streets, AASHTO, 1990, p. 125.

Figure VI-4. Use of hand signaling devices by flagger

Figure VI-4. Use of hand signaling devices by flagger.

Other workers should not be permitted to congregate around the flagger station. The flagger should be stationed far enough ahead of the work force to warn them (for example with horns, whistles etc.) of approaching danger, such as vehicles out of control.

Flagger stations should be visible far enough ahead to permit all vehicles to stop. Table VI-1, Guidelines for length of longitudinal buffer space, may be used in selecting the location of flaggers. This distance is related to approach speeds, friction factors, and pavement and tire conditions, These distances may be increased for downgrades.3 These distances are calculated in a manner similar to those calculated in the first paragraph of 6E-6. Flagger stations should be preceded by proper advance warning signs. Under certain geometric and traffic situations, more than one flagger station may be required for each direction of traffic. At night, flagger stations should be illuminated.

At two-way, unusually low-volume and/or unusually low- speed short lane closings where adequate sight distance is available for the safe handling of traffic, the use of one flagger may be sufficient.


3Table III-2. A Policy on Geometric Design of Highways and Streets, AASHTO, 1990, p. 125.