How to Recognize Traffic Signs by Color and Shape

traffic signs

After you have been driving for a few years, recognizing traffic signs will begin to become intuitive. You won’t even need to read the sign after learning what the color and shape represents. If you want to help this learning process along, you can study the various signs and begin to attach meaning to their shape and color.

Determining Traffic Signs By Color

Traffic signs come in a variety of colors, and these colors are not decided at random. Each color represents a certain type of situation.

1. Green

Unless you completely failed out of driver’s education, you should know that the color green generally signals that it’s safe to drive ahead. Aside from the basic green light, green traffic signs point a driver toward a certain area or location. For example, signs that alert you to exits, streets, landmarks or the number of miles to the next city are always green. When you see a green sign, you can at least be assured that you’re headed in the right direction on the road, which counts for a lot!

2. Red

A red light or sign means that you must stop. Hopefully, you already know this, and if not, you probably shouldn’t be operating a vehicle. However, not all red traffic signs mean that you have to stop your car. They can also alert you to things that are not allowed, such as entering a one-way road or performing a u-turn.

3. Yellow

Yellow lights and traffic signs mean that you can travel ahead with caution. They can also alert you to upcoming changes in traffic patterns, such as merges, roundabouts and cross streets.

4. Orange

Orange signs indicate that you’re entering into a construction zone. These signs are important to watch out for, as they usually also alert you of a reduction in the speed limit. If you are caught speeding in a construction zone, you will likely pay twice as many fines, so be very careful.

5. Black and White

Black and white signs display the speed limit.

6. Blue

Blue traffic signs are designed to assist you on the road. They help direct you to certain places that you may need to find while driving, such as rest areas and hospitals.

7. Brown

Finally, brown roadsigns direct you to the fun places, such as national parks, recreation areas, lakes and other points of interest.

Determining Signs By Shape

Certain individuals, such as those who are colorblind, may have a difficult time remembering signs by their color. In these cases, it can be helpful to study the shape of the sign as well. Follow these simple rules:

  • An octagon means stop.
  • A circle means you’re approaching train tracks.
  • An upside-down triangle means to yield.
  • A diamond means that there could be dangers ahead.
  • A pentagon means that you’re approaching a school zone.

Study Carefully and You Will Soon Have it Down

If you’re a new driver, all of this information is probably a bit overwhelming, but as previously mentioned, it will eventually become like second nature. If you need a little help for the time being, consider making a set of flash cards to test yourself on the various roadsigns. You can also take a few practice permit tests, which often quiz you on the meaning of traffic signs.