The meaning of road signs

For road signs are guidelines for road users. Knowing them is essential to drive your car safely and every now and then you also need to give them a brush up.

The importance of road signs

Whenever you get behind the wheel of your car, or walk down the street, you come across dozens of road signs. Danger signs, directions to the center, roundabouts, no-passing, contradictory and so on. There are dozens of signs that act as a visual code to indicate various information, obligations and dangers to motorists in order to regulate the safe circulation of vehicles on both city and external roads. Within the road code of the road signsconstitute a particularly important section, so much so that out of 25 topics on which the license quizzes are concerned, 9 are reserved for road signs. Of these 9 topics, 6 are considered primary, meaning that each of them will present two questions instead of one.

Given the large amount of signals, there are some that you will encounter very few times in life, but it is necessary to know them. Occasionally, in fact, it is good to take a book or search on the Internet for a list of signs to repeat what the signs mean and what are the obligations and prohibitions that the motorist must comply with in the presence of the same, in order to always maintain correct behavior on the road. .

Typology and hierarchy of road signs

The road signs are collected in some large groups that divide them by function. These large groups are in turn subdivided into subsections and do not all have the same importance, but rather function by hierarchy, where some prevail over others.

Specifically we have:

  • signs of road agents;
  • verticalsignals ;
  • horizontalsigns ;
  • complementarysignals ;
  • lightsignals .

The road signs, even if they are not really signs, include the indications given by the traffic agents (brigade, policemen and other law enforcement agencies). In the presence of a traffic agent who is making signals you must respect those because they have the upper hand over everything. The vertical signs follow the directions of the road agents, such as the signs placed on the poles and so on. Vertical road signs are followed by horizontal signs that are painted on the ground, such as the demarcation lines of a parking lot and the like.

The light signals , such as semaphores, prevail on the vertical signals (unlike the four bright arrows of a vehicle). Finally, complementary signals are placed side by side with different types of signals to indicate a specification, continuation or end of a previous signal.

The signals of the traffic officers

Before knowing the road signs it is essential to know what are the signs that traffic agents make . Always remember that people override any road signs you may find on the road, especially important in situations where there are road works, an accident or other special traffic conditions.

Specifically, if the policeman is facing you with his arms outstretched like a cross, it is equivalent to the red traffic light. With only one arm raised vertically it indicates the yellow light of the traffic light, so if you are approaching you must stop because it will soon open its arms in a cross. Finally, when the arms are open but not towards you, so you are on the side of the watchman, this is equivalent to the green light.
Often instead of using this code, fighters can use palettes with green and red sides.

Light signals

By light signals we mean the traffic lights that regulate traffic . The traffic light takes precedence over the warning signs. Operation is very simple: the red light indicates that you must stop at the intersection, the green light allows you to continue while the yellow light indicates to stop if you have not yet occupied the intersection or to pass it if you have already engaged. For public transport vehicles the signs are white bars on a black background and are: horizontal bar – red light, vertical or right inclined bar – green light, yellow triangle on black background – yellow light.

Danger signals

From here you enter the vertical signs, the most common on the street. The warning signs are immediately recognizable by their triangle shape and are made of reflective material. The triangular danger signs have the danger index and are placed 150 meters from the point where the danger begins, but they can be an exception on secondary roads where they can be up to 100 meters while in urban roads up to 50 meters. Not all warning signs have a triangular shape, in fact the St. Andrew’s cross is an exception, indicating a barrier-free level crossing. Depending on the number of crosses, the number of tracks is indicated: the more tracks there are, the more trains must pass. In addition, the distance panels which are rectangular and progressively indicate the distance to the level crossing are to be considered danger signs.

Prescription signs

After the warning signs follow the prescription signs, which together indicate right of way, obligations and prohibition for motorists. Specifically, the prohibition signs are circular with a red border while the interior is white , while the figures inside indicate the actual prohibition. An exception is the empty sign indicating driving ban. The same signs without the red border but with a diagonal black stripe indicate the end of the ban.
The no parking and stopping signs, on the other hand, have a blue background .
The mandatory signs are completely blue circular . Finally, iRight of way signs have different shapes, such as the stop which is hexagonal and the obligation to give way is a downward facing triangle .

Indication signs

The indicator signals only give information to drivers, with no consequent obligations. They are green on the motorway , blue on suburban roads and white in urban areas . They have other colors such as yellow for temporary danger, brown for indications of cultural, artistic and similar interest, opaque black to indicate similar factories and establishments, orange for taxis and school buses, red to indicate accidents and SOS, white and red on construction sites road and gray for the signs to be rebuilt.

Horizontal signals

Then there are the horizontal signals that regulate the circulation and are located on the ground . Generally white, they can be yellow when they are temporary. Among the most common is the continuous or discontinuous strip that divides the lanes and indicates or prohibits the possibility of overtaking. Directional arrows, pedestrian crossings, traffic islands, obstacles, parking lots are also indicated on the ground.

Complementary signals

The complementary signals show the route when driving conditions difficult (tight corners and hairpins) or indicate special conditions as a work in progress. The delimitation cones and barriers of various kinds are also complementary signals.


by Abdullah Sam
I’m a teacher, researcher and writer. I write about study subjects to improve the learning of college and university students. I write top Quality study notes Mostly, Tech, Games, Education, And Solutions/Tips and Tricks. I am a person who helps students to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue.

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