Road signs are incredibly important to driving safely. They let you know how you are supposed to behave in a variety of different driving conditions. Turns out, if you aced shapes and colors in kindergarten, handling road signs should be a snap! Here’s a quick breakdown of what the different shapes and colors found on signs typically mean. Learn each of these so that you know what signs are telling you before you’re even close enough to read them.
Quick Color Tips
There are general color schemes that traffic signs throughout the United States follow. When you recognize what each of these colors mean, you can easily interpret most signs, even those that you aren’t very familiar with.
Brown – Typically, brown signs indicate recreational areas and scenic areas such as parks.
Red – This is the color for stop. Whether it’s on a sign, a traffic light or the side of a school bus, you should always stop when you see a red.
Yellow – Yellow signs are warning signs used to indicate changes in the driving environment, including curves, obstacles ahead or a change in road surface.
Blue – A blue sign indicates an exit with restaurants, gas stations and/or hotels.
Green – This color almost always means go so, if you see green, it’s a safe bet that you can proceed down the road.
Black and White – Black and white signs are known as regulatory signs. These signs indicate speed limits and the legal direction for traffic to flow.
Orange – Orange signs are used to denote a construction zone. They often communicate the same information as yellow signs with the additional caveat that workers are present.
Road Sign Shapes
Communication from road signs is not limited to color but extends to shape as well. Keep an eye out for each of these shapes and what they mean for your current driving directions.
Upside Down Triangle – This black, white and red sign means yield and to use caution. If you see this shape slow down and look out for possible obstacles.
Octagon – The shape for stop. Keep an eye out for this shape to avoid driving when you aren’t supposed to be.
Pentagon – This shape indicates the presence of a nearby school zone or crossing. Pay attention to your speed and watch for children.
Vertical Rectangle – Signs of this shape most often communicate speed limits and parking regulations.
Pennant – Pennant signs communicate the presence of a no-passing zone.
Circle – A circle means the presence of railroad tracks. Watch for trains and be ready for the uneven surface of crossing the tracks.
Because authorities have taken care to make road signs across the nation uniform, it makes things easier as you drive about the country. Knowing the information communicated by the shape and color of a sign will let you know far in advance how you should modify your driving.