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State Traffic Regulations

Traffic Laws

New York State has enacted the Vehicle and Traffic Law which governs all public roads and private roads open to the public.  The Vehicle and Traffic Law provides that it is the supreme law in the state regarding traffic and no state agency or local government may enact any traffic regulation except where authorized by the Vehicle and Traffic Law.  And failure to comply or omission of an act required by the law is a “traffic infraction” unless the Vehicle and Traffic Law makes it a crime (misdemeanor or felony).  The text of the VTL is available here.

The Vehicle and Traffic Law (section 1680) requires all traffic control devices to comply with the federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices as modified by the New York State Supplement.  To see the federal MUTCD, click on “2009 MUTCD with Revisions 1, 2, and 3, July 2022” on the left side of the page, then click on “PDF version” at the end of the first sentence. The resulting document is the New York MUTCD.  Erecting a traffic control device that is not MUTCD compliant is a traffic infraction.  Try to get the police to enforce that law.

Summary / Crib Sheet on NYS Traffic Law and MUTCD Requirements

Click here for a summary of the most commonly needed sections of the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law along with the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices.

Pavement Markings May Not Ssubstitute for Signs

The NYS Supplement to the MUTCD provides as follows:

Section 3B.20 Pavement Word, Symbol, and Arrow Markings

24A Word and symbol pavement markings shall not be used to inform motorists of mandatory messages, except as a supplement to standard signs. Where a movement that would otherwise be legal is to be prohibited, such as when through traffic lanes approaching an intersection become mandatory turn lanes, lane-use arrow markings (see Figure 3B-21) shall be used and accompanied by standard signs.

Use of Yellow

The MUTCD restricts the use of yellow to situations where it separates traffic in opposing directions or it appears on the left edge of a one way roadway.  A document describing the rules, with extracts of the relevant laws, is available here.

Parking Rules

The MUTCD generally requires that parking regulations be posted on proper signs at the beginning and end of the regulated area and every 200 feet if the regulated area is longer than 200 feet.  A regulated area can be no longer than one block.  A proper sign, according to the MUTCD must be seven feet above the ground (five feet in rural areas), have a white background, and either red or green text.    A document describing the rules, with extracts of the relevant laws, is available here.