You must know what traffic signs and road markings mean before you attempt to drive on a public road. Traffic signs and roadway markings are divided into three broad categories are:- Regulatory, Warning, and Information.
Sometimes signs from different categories are used together to improve road safety.
Different types of signs are used for motorways and railway crossings and bridges. There is also a special series of warning signs for road works.
This category comprises signs that are mandatory to all road users; in other words, these indicate what you must do under road traffic law.
All road users must obey them. Regulatory signs are divided into a number of groups;- e.g. Upright signs, Road markings and Traffic lights.
These may have some or all of the following formats:- They are generally shape in a circular, octagonal, triangular or rectangular, and may take the following forms; a white background with a red border and black letters, symbols or numbers, a blue background with white symbols or letters.
This section concentrates on regulatory upright signs and road markings. The Traffic lights & signals section covers traffic lights in detail.
In this category are, the Stop upright sign, a red octagon with a white border. It is the only regulatory sign of this shape.
Stop signs appear at junctions with major roads. If you approach a Stop sign, you must stop completely before entering the major road, no matter how quiet it might appear.
The Yield upright sign shown is just one version of this sign. Other versions are the same shape and colour but might say ‘Yield Right of Way’.
If you see a Yield sign on the road, usually near a junction or roundabout, you must give way to any traffic on a major road ahead and you must not proceed out onto the main road until it is safe to do so. It is better to be safe than sorry, make sure you allow enough time to complete your manoeuvre.
Road markings are yet another form of traffic sign in the form and design of a marking on the surface of the road. They have the same regulations as upright signs. The diagrams below show the most common types of road marking and what they mean.
Single or double continuous white lines along the centre of the road means that, all traffic must keep to the left of the line (except in an emergency or for access).
A broken white line along the centre of the road divides two lanes of traffic travelling in opposite directions. You must not cross them unless it is safe to do so.
Double broken white lines along the centre of the road alert drivers to continuous white lines a short distance ahead. As a driver, you must not cross them unless it is safe to do so.
A broken white line with a single white line along the centre of the road means that a driver must obey the line that is nearest to them.
A single broken yellow line along the side of the road means that, the road contains a hard shoulder, which is normally only for pedestrians and cyclists.
If a driver wants to allow a vehicle behind them to overtake, they may pull in to the hard shoulder briefly as long as no pedestrians or cyclists are already using it and no junctions or entrances are nearby.
A continuous white Stop line crossing the lane with the word STOP may also be provided with the Stop line. A white triangular Yield symbol may also be provided with the Yield line.
Warning signs, these signs warn you of hazards ahead, such as roundabouts, crossroads, dangerous bends or anything else that would call on you to drive more carefully.
You should always take special care when you see a warning sign. If you fail to observe these signs you could create an emergency. All warning signs have the same format.
They are diamond or rectangular shaped, have a yellow background with a black border, and use a black symbol to show the hazard ahead.
They are also upright, meaning they are at the side of the road or mounted on a wall instead of painted onto the road surface.
Information signs. As their name suggests, these signs give information about directions and distances from your current location.
There are three formats for information signs:
blue signs with white letters on motorways,
green signs with white letters, which are on national roads, and white signs with black letters, which are on local and regional roads.
In addition to these signs are an important component known as “Traffic lights”, this will be covered in another session. It is such an important and broad topic.