Road warning signs are signs that warn drivers about potential hazards in the area, or sometimes about upcoming obstacles that require special attention. Very often these kinds of traffic signs indicate risks on roadways which may not be obvious to motorists and are therefore very useful for avoiding accidents and other roadway mishaps.
Warning signs can come in various shapes and sizes, but they generally follow the formula of having a yellow background with black lettering. Some warning traffic signs come in the shape of an equilateral triangle, commonly with a white background and a thick red border, for instance, a Yield sign. Some yellow signs shaped like pennants provide a caution to motorists when it̵
Warning signs in the United States are based on the MUTCD standard, and they usually display text only, rather than any kind of pictures or symbols. To maintain compliance, it’s best to acquire your signs from trusted traffic control equipment suppliers. Warning signs in this country are classified as Series W signs, for instance, the W1 Series, which provides warnings about upcoming turns and curves. The W2 Series contain information about intersections up ahead, and the W22 Series offers information about blasting zones in the immediate area while the W25 Series displays information about green traffic lights.
While not all warning signs fall into the Series W categorization, the vast majority of them do. A notable exception would be the End of Roadway signs, which are simply classified as Object Markers, and these fall into a different category known as the OM Series. The most common usage of warning signs is to notify motorists of unexpected or dangerous conditions so that drivers will have a chance to reduce their speed and be on alert for significant changes in driving conditions.
Curves, detours, bumps, dips, and upcoming side roads are just a few of the potential changes in driving conditions that a driver would need to know about, and which may not be readily apparent at the moment. Most of the signs have a yellow or orange background, with black lettering, and they take the shape of either a triangle, rectangle, or diamond.
Types of road warning signs
Although road warning signs do come in a variety of shapes and sizes, the color scheme is fairly uniform. Whenever you see a yellow sign with black lettering or black symbols, you should pay attention to what it’s telling you, because road conditions are likely to change.
Here are five of the most common types of road warning signs that drivers will normally encounter on roadways.
- Slippery roadway – this warning sign shows a car and driver with two curvy lines trailing behind it, which are meant to indicate that slippery conditions may be just ahead. In some cases, this warning sign is only meant to convey the possibility of slippery conditions during wintertime, because the roadway ahead commonly has snow or ice accumulating on it. However, there are some non-winter possibilities that may cause slippery conditions in the area, so the sign should not be ignored in warm weather.
- T symbol – this informative sign tells you that the road you’re traveling on will end up ahead, so you need to be prepared to come to a complete stop, or at least to slow down, and then make either a left or right turn.
- Deer symbol – this warning sign depicts a deer in the act of leaping, and it is meant to indicate that for the next several miles, there’s a possibility of deer dashing out unexpectedly into the roadway. Signs like these are posted because deer are known to live in the area, and have encountered motorists in the past. Any collision with a deer will not only cause damage to the animal, but is very likely to cause serious damage to your vehicle as well, so this is a very serious warning. Especially if you are traveling at high speed, the potential for a serious accident is very high, so you should slow down through the upcoming area, and be alert to the possibility of the sudden appearance of wildlife.
- Bump sign – this sign is to alert motorists to the fact that a significant bump is in the roadway up ahead, and that you should be prepared to slow down your vehicle, so you don’t take the bump at full speed. If you ignore a sign like this and don’t slow your vehicle down when going over the bump, there’s a chance you could lose control of the steering wheel, and be involved in a roadway mishap.
- Winding road sign – this warning sign shows a squiggly line depicted vertically, with an arrow pointing in the direction ahead. The bends and curves in the squiggly line are meant to convey that just up ahead, there is a stretch of road that whines about, and you can expect that straight-line driving will and temporarily on the roadway ahead. This, of course, means that you should slow down your vehicle because some of these twists and turns can be very sharp ones which you cannot take it full speed. This is especially important during winter months because there’s a distinct possibility that you could skid out of control on a slippery turn if you don’t have your vehicle under control.
Other road signs
There are many other roadway signs used in this country besides warning signs, but most of them fall into two other categories: regulatory signs and guide type signs. Regulatory signs are intended to convey information which reminds drivers about traffic laws and regulations, and which motorists are obliged to comply with.
One of the most common types of regulatory signs which everyone has encountered on the road is the octagonally shaped red sign, which includes the single word Stop, and is meant to convey to the driver that a full stop is required up ahead. Brown-colored signs are universally intended to convey information about national parks and forests, and recreational opportunities which are in the area.
Signs which are pentagonal in shape will generally be placed at school crossing intersections, and around school zones in general, alerting drivers to the fact that extreme caution must be paid, because of the possibility of young pedestrians being nearby. Orange, diamond-shaped signs are often used around construction areas, to alert drivers to the need for avoiding certain areas, or to the fact that there are workmen nearby, so extra precautions should be taken.
Blue rectangular-shaped signs are meant to be guides to motorists, providing them with directional information and other info about destinations in the area, which are commonly sought out by motorists. Both the size and the shape of traffic control signs are significant, and by learning what those signs and shapes mean, you’ll be able to identify what a traffic sign means instantly.
This can be very helpful when visibility is low, and you can’t quite make out what’s on the sign. Sometimes the shape and coloring of a sign will be enough to alert you to the fact that you need to take some kind of action in order to maintain safe driving. Taking a few minutes to learn about the shapes and colors of road signs may make you a better, safer driver on the road.