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Symbols are used on roads since drivers process information faster than words. Have you ever thought about why the signs vary in color and shape?

Different colors and signs are used to ensure proper traffic flow, and the best part is some are universal and standard, and you won’t have trouble visiting other countries.

You will learn most signs in your theory class, but you may only keep some of them in your mind. Keep reading as we check the traffic signs and meanings for safe driving.

But first, let’s look at:

Traffic Signs and Meanings: The Four Major Categories

Road signs will be part of your permit test; learning them is essential for passing and staying safe. Let’s check the significant categories of road signs.

Regulatory Signs: They enforce road rules, and you will find them on most roads. The standard regulatory signs include a stop that uses white and red. You must stop at the line across the street.

Yield is also in this category and alerts you on upcoming hazards or road conditions, and you should stop when necessary and safe. The yellow flashing sign at intersections serves the same purpose.

Warning Signs: They alert you to proceed with caution. For example, when approaching road work.

Warning signs are essential because they help prevent an accident that may lead to injuries and protect drivers from the hazardous situation and material ahead of them.

Warning signs are always made to be easy to understand and straightforward. They are usually placed in areas where people have a maximum view.

Guide Signs: They give information about a location and vary in color depending on their message

Rail Crossing Signs: They warn drivers about approaching railway tracks.

Road Sign Colors and Their Meanings

traffic signs


The road signs have different colors that convey a meaning different from the other colors. You can tell the sign’s message through color, and your examiner can ask questions about them. Here are some common symbols and their meanings.

Road signs keep you safe and secure while on the wheels. Neglecting them will keep you endangered and all the people around you.

1. Green

These are direction signs; you will find them as exit signs, street markers, distance signs to a specific location, or city and mile markers. It also indicates that movements are permitted in the area or the distance ahead.

The primary purpose of green is to guide. It’s a guide color that tells you where and the distance and place you are currently going.

2. Red

US road signs and meanings


It means you must stop or yield, and you will notice prohibition signs using the color, such as no turn, no U-turn, and no parking. Remember that if you come across the stop sign, you should make a complete stop, and a rolling one may earn you some deductions in the scoring sheet.

In other words, the red color’s primary purpose is to warn you from doing something that is not necessarily need to be done or going somewhere restricted. Red signifies danger on the road that may cause injuries once ignored or unseen.

3. Yellow

Warning signs use yellow and alert you of adverse conditions and hazards ahead. It also shows there are changing road conditions on your way. For example, you can see a yellow sign warning you about a rail crossing, a merge point, a narrow bridge ahead, no passing zone, and uneven surface, among other potential hazards. It would help if you prepared to stop or slow down in such an event.

4. Orange

They represent temporary signs related to traffic control, road work, and other maintenance warnings. Once you see an orange sign watch out for workers on your roadway.

5. Purple

It shows that the lanes are restricted for vehicles registered with electronic toll collections.

6. Fluorescent Green

It’s a relatively new color in our roadways and relates to pedestrians, cyclists, and school warnings. Some construction sites also use color since it’s easier to recognize when driving in adverse weather, such as rain and fog.

7. Blue

traffic signs


These are non-regulatory signs that display travelers’ services. You will mostly find them on expressways and highways, directing you where to find hospitals, hotels, rest areas, gas stations, campgrounds, and hotels.

Therefore blue color signs also guide signs that purposely tell you the services offered along the road without bothering other people to show you the directions. 

8. Brown

They mark recreational facilities, historical sites, and other attractions. The signs will give a direction to the area.


The coral-colored signs are temporary and found around incident sites such as flooded roads, hazardous spills, car accidents, and hazardous spills and fallen trees.

9. Black and White

They mean regulation.

Road Sign Shapes

Besides the color, you can tell a road sign’s meaning through the shape. Let’s check the standard shapes for road signs.

1. Octagon

The shape is always a stop sign. If it’s at an intersection, make a complete stop at the marked stop line or before your vehicle gets to the intersection. If it’s near the crosswalk, ensure the pedestrians pass before continuing your trip.

2. Diamond

dmv road signs and meanings


They are used as warning signs to alert you of special road hazards where. Some have words, and others sign to ensure you slow down for safety.

3. Pennant

It’s usually on the left side of the highway or road to warn you about a no-passing zone.

4. Equilateral Triangle

It’s for yield signs to ensure you yield the right of way, let vehicles cross your path, or slow down. Sometimes, you should stop before proceeding, especially in a crosswalk where pedestrians are about to enter.

5. Pentagon

A pentagon-shaped road sign means there’s a school zone or crossing.

6. Rectangle

road signs and meanings


The shape is used in guide and regulatory signs, and the vertical ones tell you what to do and avoid, like observing speed limits. The horizontal ones are used in giving directions on services that drivers may require.

7. Crossbuck

road signs list


It shows railroads are crossing, and some have a number on them to indicate the sets of tracks intersecting.

8. Circle

It indicates there’s a railroad crossing ahead.

What Are the Typical Black and White Road Signs?

Traffic signs and meanings


Speed Limit: The signs post the maximum speed on the roadway, and breaking it will earn you a speeding ticket since there are no error margins to speed limits, and you must stick to the given one.

Do Not Pass: You shouldn’t pass the driver in front of you, especially on two-lane roads, to keep drivers from using the oncoming lane for passing. You can also see the sign in the multi-ways where roads are about to merge.

One Way: Indicates a one-way road with an arrow showing traffic flow. It helps new drivers and visitors recognize the road.

No Turns: the signs are common at intersections to indicate that you aren’t allowed to make any turn. You may notice them in construction zones and temporarily closed roads.

How Many Questions is The Sign Test?

In the DMV driving test, you will encounter 20 multiple-choice questions assessing your understanding of road signs, rules of the road, and safe driving regulations.

To successfully pass the knowledge portion of the test, you must answer at least 14 questions correctly. Among these questions, you need to respond accurately to at least two of the four questions related to road signs.

What is the difference between green and white road signs?

When you see rectangular signs on primary routes with a blue background, be assured that it gives directions, but when you see rectangular signs with a white background on major roads, know that it gives the road drivers information.

The difference may be too tricky and confusing to USA drivers, but once you master it, you are safe on the road.

What Should You Do Before You Drive?

Before you are behind the wheel, consider the safety of you and the drivers around you. This can only be achieved by checking your fluid, tire pressure, tire tread, battery health, and emergency kit.

Also, ensure you check the inside of the vehicle, like if the foot pedal, parking brake, and brake pedal are working perfectly. Once everything is done, you are safe to drive on the road.

Final Thoughts

In your theory driving classes, you must have learned common road signs for a safe ride on New York roads. It would help to remember the signs in your driving test since the examiner can ask you a question about them.

At Pierre Paul driving school, we teach you about traffic signs and the meanings of safe maneuvers. Hurry and book a lesson for the best experience.