Significance of Colors and Shapes in Road & Traffic Signs

October 21, 2011

Streamlining the flow of traffic and effective communication with the traffic environment is possible with standard colors and shapes of signboards. Colors can tell you as much about the sign’s message as the entire sign itself.

Every color used on a sign has a meaning attached to it and tells the driver what to expect ahead.

Following are the different colors used in signs to convey different messages to motorists.

1. Red: The color red is used for signs that tell the motorists to stop or yield. The sign notifies the driver to stop and proceed when it is safe. The rationale of a STOP sign is to limit the driver from entering a crosswalk or intersection, one way and prohibited streets etc. accidentally or at high speed.

Stop Sign

2. Green: Green gives highway directions and guides through highway interchanges and tells you how far a place is from where you are.

Green Right Arrow Sign

3. Yellow: A general warning or caution is always depicted through this color.

Yellow Blind Corner Proceed Traffic Sign

4. Black / white: This color indicates enforceable laws, regulations, and ordinances.

Black and White Private Dead End Road Drive Sign

5. Blue: Blue signs list motorist services. These signs guide you to places such as hotels, gas stations, hospitals, eating places, picnic and campgrounds etc.

Blue Hospital Symbol Sign

6. Orange: At time of construction and work in progress, the work area is protected from traffic by orange warning signs and devices.

Orange Road Construction Ahead Sign

7. Brown: Brown color directs you to public recreational areas, national parks, historic points of interest and scenic sites.

Brown Campground Sign

8. Fluorescent yellow-green: General warning or caution is demonstrated with fluorescent yellow-green color. The signs using this new color are much easier to see in low light, fog and rain. It shows pedestrian warning, bicycle warning, playground warning, school bus and school warning.

Fluorescent Yellow Green Pedestrian Crossing Symbol Sign

9. Red and White with red letters: Yield signs are red and white in color with red letters. This color combination alerts the drivers of the oncoming hazards on the road. It instructs the driver to slow down, stop when necessary, and proceed safely and be aware of the oncoming traffic.

Read & White Yield Sign

10. Flashing yellow light: It has the same meaning as a yield sign. This tells the driver should be cautious while passing the road or intersection.

11. Circular red arrow: It forbids moving in the direction where the arrow points. Turning on a red arrow is not allowed.

12. Circular yellow arrow: This indicates that the driver should prepare to stop at the stop line and thus slow down. Motorists should not increase the speed to beat the red arrow that comes next.

13. Circular green arrow: It indicates the right of way to progress through the turn. Before moving ahead, drivers should yield for other vehicle and pedestrians who are still at the intersection.

Shapes can also help identify the signboards:

Octagon Shaped STOP Sign
Octagon: An octagon illustrates a STOP sign.
Pentagon School School Children Symbol Sign
Pentagon: A school sign is demonstrated by a pentagon.
Horizontal Rectangular Left Way Out Traffic Sign
Horizontal Rectangle: Information or direction is represented on a rectangle.
Horizontal Rectangular Left Way Out Traffic Sign
Vertical Rectangle: Regulations are posted on a vertical rectangle.
Diamond Shaped Construction Entrance Sign
Diamond: A warning is always posted on a diamond shaped sign.
Cicular Railroad Crossing Sign
Circle: A railway crossing is shown by a circle.
Pennant No Passing Zone Sign
Pennant: This sign is usually on the left hand side of the road. It warns you of no passing zone.

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Category: Miscellaneous

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