Today, Assemblymember Monica Wallace (D-Lancaster) sent a letter to New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez requesting that the state DOT formally approve signage that alerts motorists that children with autism reside in areas of travel. Although multiple municipalities around the state have erected such signage at the request of families, it remains absent from the allowable lists of road signs set forth in the National Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).
Over the past few days, its come to my attention that families have been requesting signage to alerts motorists that their child has autism and could wander or bolt into the roadway, but those requests have been denied by municipalities, said Assemblymember Wallace. After looking into what could be done at the state level to help these families, its my understanding that existing state law allows for the state to have a supplemental list to the MUTCD and that the supplemental list can be modified by the commissioner. As such, I have requested Commissioner Dominguez to allow for child with autism signage. Indeed, doing so will give families the peace of mind that motorists know to exercise additional caution.
In her letter, Wallace cites Article 44, Â§ 1680 of the NYS Vehicle and Traffic Law as reason that the commissioner has the authority to make amendments to allowable road signage. Specifically, the section of law indicates that the state follows what is permissible under the federal MUTCD, but that the state may permit additional signage by the adoption of a supplement or supplements as such commissioner of transportation determines warranted and in compliance with the applicable provisions of the state administrative procedure act.
I commend the families who have come to me over the past few days to share their stories and the anxiety that motorists travelling their streets are not aware that their son or daughter has autism and may wander or run into the road without warning. I hope that Commissioner Dominguez makes this change quickly, and I stand ready to do whatever might be necessary legislatively to assist, concluded Wallace.