Whether you’re preparing for your driver’s exam or came across an unusual road sign that you don’t remember, it’s always imperative to familiarize yourself with it. Understanding the meanings of different traffic signs can help you make safe driving decisions quickly and more easily.

Traffic signs refer to certain devices that are always placed along a highway, roadway, or pathway to guide and control the flow of traffic. It regulates the movement of motor vehicles, bicycles, equestrians, as well as pedestrians.

Deer Crossing Signs

This is a road warning sign that alerts drivers of areas where the population is active and might enter the roadway. Typically, an average white-tailed deer weighs approximately 100 pounds and has an average height of about 3 to 4 feet.

Seeing such a big animal on the road can be an extremely serious situation. As such, deer crossing signs are very helpful in helping drivers pass through such areas safely.

Emergency Vehicle Warning Signs

Though less prominent, the emergency vehicle warning sign is exceptionally important. Featuring the same design as the deer crossing signs, MUTCD W11-8 signs are often utilized for alerting drivers about upcoming fire departments, and ambulance stations, as well as other regions where emergency vehicles may be entering the roadway with a delimited warning to drivers.

In this regard, motorists are required to refrain from driving in these areas to allow emergency vehicles to move in and out of the station without much difficulty.

No Bicycle Signs

Most often, bicycle riders are subject to the same traffic signs as drivers on the roadways.

MUTCD R5-6 (No bicycle signs) prohibit the entrance of bicycle traffic into a roadway or a given facility. When utilized at a facility, these signs are often posted at the entrances. No parking bike signs, as well as bicycle warning signs, are also common traffic signs. 

Keep Right Sign

As the road narrows because of dividers or any other obstructions, motorists ought to be informed about the changes, so that they can make the necessary adjustments.

MUTCD R4-7 implies that the driver should “keep right” while MUTCD R4-8 implies that they “keep left”. These regulatory traffic signs play a key role in aiding the flow of vehicles when such slight obstacles are present.

No U-Turn Signs

With a curved arrow indicating a U-turn and a bold prohibition sign over it, this MUTCD R3-4 standard design is utilized for informing drivers about areas where they can’t change their vehicle’s direction into the opposite side.

Pedestrian Crossing Signs

The MUTCD W11-2 warning sign is commonly used in various settings, while the MUTCD S1-1 is usually posted in school zones. The two signs feature a yellow-green fluorescent reflective sheeting which enhances its visibility on the roads.

Men at Work Signs

Generally speaking, MUTCD W21-1 is a temporary road sign that used to notify drivers of upcoming road work. The color orange is utilized on this warning sign because it’s highly visible to the human eye. They can, therefore, be easily recognized.

When driving across work zones, safe driving should be a top priority. Men at work warning signs are often accompanied by other temporary road signs, such as ‘detour’ and ‘road work ahead’ signs.

Speed Limit Signs

When it comes to traffic control, speed limit signs are vital. Their standard limits can vary depending on the state where you’re driving through.

While driving across residential streets, you may not be able to see speed limit signs. This is because the standard speed limit for most residential zones is 25 miles per hour and most drivers who successfully pass their driving examinations understand this law.

For most highways, the speed limit is set at 55 miles per hour. However, this can be altered by the state and will differ from one location to another. Other common highway limits are 45 and 65 miles per hour.

Other than notifying drivers about the speed limit of a particular roadway, highways signs also help bring instant attention to detours, hazards, as well as construction work.

Stop Signs

Being the most important of all traffic signs, stop signs (MUTCD RI-1) are designed to have an octagon shape and come in red color. They’re created this way so as to make them prominent and easy to understand.

Stop signs like these have significant importance on traffic safety as they alert drivers of intersections as well as other areas where traffic might be traveling in opposite as well as crossing directions. 

Yield Signs

Yield signs, also labeled as MUTCD R1-2 resemble stop signs, but they’re often utilized in less dangerous situations. Commonly used at passive cross streets, and traffic circles, these signs help in keeping the traffic flowing, while also allowing drivers from various directions to pass through.

They’re often used along with pedestrian crossing signs and can also be placed alongside in-street crossing signs.

Key Takeaway

Though the colors play a key role in providing consistency in the roads and highways, the shape of each traffic sign also bears a specific meaning. In fact, the shape of a road sign can notify drivers about the message before they even read the contents.

Aside from the Shape, symbol, and color, MUTCD often has specific requirements regarding the size of signs as well as the materials in which the message is printed on. For instance, when the signs are utilized at night, they should either be retro-reflective or illuminated to showcase similar shape both at night and during the day.

The commonly used colors include red, which means stop, white (regulatory sign), yellow (conveys a caution message, green (provides directional guidance), orange (warning and guidance), coral (incident management), blue (tourist information, evacuation routes), and brown, which provides guidance to public recreation sites as well as areas of cultural interest.

The Bottom Line

Recognizing and understanding these popular traffic signs is an essential part of being a cautious driver, pedestrian, or bicyclist. Plus, it promotes optimal safety on the road while also keeping traffic under check. 


Published by Samantha Brown