Dynamic Message Sign (DMS) Usage

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Prepared by:  David Spencer, P.E., Traffic Engineer

Supersedes:  N/A

Adopted by Council: 2/14/2008

Effective:  2/14/2008


The purpose of this DMS Usage Policy is to ensure that the information and messages displayed on the Town of Cary’s permanent DMS boards are consistent, effective, accurate, and appropriate.   Additionally, this policy will ensure that messages will be displayed in a timely manner to most effectively aid citizens by providing them with information to protect their health, safety, and welfare. 


This policy, upon adoption by the Town Council, shall be applicable to all DMS operated and maintained by the Town of Cary until such time that the policy statement is altered, modified, or rescinded by the Town Council.  The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) has developed a DMS/CMS policy for use of message boards on state right-of-way.  Refer to the NCDOT policy for proper use of temporary Changeable Message Signs (CMS) as this policy statement is for permanent DMS.


It is the policy of the Town of Cary to allocate the use of our DMS to control and manage adverse roadway and traffic conditions and provide pertinent public health and safety information.


A.      The Town of Cary will utilize DMS through the Town’s Traffic Management Center (TMC) and Emergency Communications Center to display only those messages that will assist in protecting public health, safety and welfare.

B.      Messages will focus primarily on traveler information with the purpose of allowing citizens to make decisions about their commute route to facilitate safer, more efficient travel.

C.      Traffic or travel information will include, but is not limited to, traffic crashes, road or lane closures, emergency events, work zones, special events, detour routes, hazardous road conditions, and travel times.

D.      Non-travel messages such as AMBER and Silver Alerts, ozone warnings, and public health messages will be allowed on the DMS.  

E.      Advertising, promotional, and political messages are among those message types not allowed on the DMS.

F.      The messages displayed on the DMS will be implemented in a timely manner so as many citizens as possible can take advantage of the information displayed.

G.     Message boards will remain blank if there is no need to implement a message.

H.      Messages related to unplanned incidences and road conditions will have precedence over planned or informational messages.

I.         The DMS shall not be used to display information for multiple events simultaneously.  

J.       The Town’s DMS will not be used for advertising, general community information, slogans or public program messages.  Additionally, weather conditions, time/date, vehicle travel speed, or other non-essential public information is prohibited.

K.      The DMS should not display websites, e-mail addresses or phone numbers, other than 511, *HP, or one easily recognizable phone number provided by the Town of Cary for information related to roadway conditions, travel conditions, and/or public health and safety.  

L.       The Town of Cary DMS Policy and Guidelines will adhere to the standards and guidelines found in the Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) and are intended to complement guidelines by NCDOT.  Refer to the following sections of the MUTCD for standards and guidance related to the DMS (labeled as CMS in the MUTCD): Section 1A.14Section 2A.07Section 2E.21, and Section 6F.02.