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RV Friendly symbol: FHWA proposes changes

The RV Friendly signage program was rolling right along …

In September 2005 the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) issued an interim approval for states to use the RV Friendly symbol. Interim approval allows a sign or symbol to be used prior to formal adoption.

By the end of 2007, 15 states had enacted RV Friendly legislation or started programs administratively under FHWA’s interim approval.

Businesses began following procedures for having the RV Friendly symbol added to their logos on highway exit gas/food/attractions signs. The symbol, a bright yellow circle with “RV” in the center, alerts RVers that a location has ample parking and maneuvering space for large RVs.

In January 2008, more good news: The FWHA approved the symbol for inclusion in a revision of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). Inclusion in MUTCD is a requisite for the program to be used nationwide. (In order for any sign to be used on federally funded roads, it must be included in the MUTCD.)

But then …

A setback

With the January approval, FHWA published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that contains significant changes, in symbol design and placement, from the original interim standards established by FHWA in September 2005.

The changes include decreasing the symbol’s size and requiring it to be contained entirely on the business logo. The proposed revisions also give businesses the alternative of using the supplemental message “RV ACCESS” at the bottom of their logo sign.

"If adopted, these changes will severely affect usage of the RV Friendly symbol because it will require most businesses to redesign, reprint, remove and replace their logos, and that can be expensive,” said FMCA member Frank Brodersen. Brodersen, a member of FMCA’s Governmental and Legislative Affairs Committee, has worked in support of the RV Friendly program since its inception in Oregon in 2002.

The public has until July 31, 2008, to comment on the proposed amendments to the MUTCD.

Based on the comments received and its own experience, FHWA will issue a final ruling concerning the proposed changes.

Interim approval vs. proposed rule

Under the current interim program, the RV Friendly symbol is a bright yellow circle, 12 inches in diameter. "RV," 8 inches high and in black type, is in the center.

The symbol is placed in the lower right corner of the business logo in a manner in which it touches both the specific service logo and the blue sign panel. “It is visible at a considerable distance,” Brodersen said. “You can literally see the yellow circle before you can read the logo. This is a significant safety factor.”

The approval contained in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking reduces the circle to 10 inches and “RV” to 6 inches. And the RV Friendly symbol must be displayed within the business’ logo, instead of overlapping onto the sign background.

“While FHWA has specified a similar location within a logo panel, the reduction in size will make it more difficult to see,” Brodersen said.

FHWA’s proposed rule also prohibits a business from using more than one “supplemental message” in its logo panel. That means messages such as RV ACCESS, DIESEL, and 24 HOURS cannot be used in conjunction with the RV Friendly symbol. “These requirements will make widespread adoption of the RV Friendly symbol very difficult and unnecessarily expensive,” Brodersen said.

'Needs your response'

The RV Friendly concept is simple: RVers are more apt to patronize facilities and attractions they know, in advance, are safe to enter, have sufficient room to park, and are safe to exit. And businesses like being able to announce they can accommodate RVers’ needs.

“The benefit of having ‘RV’ prominently displayed at thousands of exits across America is enormous,” Brodersen said. “To make it easy and economically feasible, the industry needs your response to FHWA urging adoption of the existing interim standards.”

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