Road Sign Meanings

Road Sign Meanings

Many of us studied the highway code to pass our driving test but how many can say they’ve picked up a copy of the highway code since?

Whether you need a refresher or you’re a learner driver aiming to pass your test, our handy guide aims to cover some of the most popular questions around road signs.

What do blue road signs mean?

A blue road sign aims to give information to the driver and it has various functions depending on its shape.

Blue circle road signs give a positive (compulsory) instruction to a driver such as turn left or mini roundabout.

Turn Left Road SignMini Roundabout Road Sign

Blue rectangle road signs are informational signs, but on motorways they are used for directions.

Blue Motorway Road Sign

What do green road signs mean?

Signs on primary routes have green backgrounds and are designed to give directions.

Green Directional Road Sign

What is the sign for a ring road?

The ring road sign has a yellow boarder and green background with the letter R in it. It lets you know that it is a primary route forming part of a ring road.

Ring Road Sign

What information would be shown in a triangular road sign?

Triangular road signs warn us of upcoming dangers and hazards such as crossroads, T-junctions or roundabouts.

Crossroads Road SignT-Junction Road SignRoundabout Road Sign

Which sign means pedestrians are walking along the road?

The sign is triangular with a red boarder and shows an adult and child holding hands.

Pedestrians In Road Sign

What does ford mean on a road sign?

A ford is a shallow waterway that allows you to drive through it. Quite often during periods of winter or heavy rain the water levels can rise and may become hazardous for some vehicles to drive though. The ford signs are placed to warn you of this.

Ford Road Sign

What do gradient road signs mean?

Gradient road signs are used to warn drivers of either a steep incline or steep decline in the road.

10% Gradient In Road Sign20% Gradient In Road Sign

Whilst warning signs are mostly triangular there are a few additional road warning signs that are different shapes, including:

Traffic Signals Not In Use Road SignLevel Crossing Without Barrier Road Sign

Informational Road Signs

Information signs are all rectangular and used to give drivers advanced notice of upcoming changes.

Which sign means no through road?

The no through road sign is rectangular with a blue background. The shape in the centre has a red horizontal line and a white vertical line. It is designed to indicate the road is a dead end.

No through road sign

What do brown road signs mean?

Brown road signs are again informational, used for tourist information to indicate places of interest to visitors.

Brown Information Road Sign

Other informational signs include:

Speed Camera Road SignHospital Road Sign

We have already discussed green and blue rectangular road signs but the third colour you may notice is a white background with a black boarder. These signs are used to give directions on non-primary routes or in conjunction with warning and regulatory signs to provide further information.

White & Black Information Road Sign

What road signs give orders?

Circular road signs are designed to give orders. If the road sign has a red border this is an indication of what you should not do, if you do not follow prohibitive signs then you could be prosecuted for breaking the law, for example speed limit signs, no entry and no overtaking signs.

30 Miles Per Hour Road SignNo Entry Road SignNo Overtaking Road Sign

Blue circular road signs offer positive instructions.

Vehicles may pass either side to reach same destination sign

Other circular road signs include the national speed limit applies sign:

National Speed Limit Road Sign

The stop sign is octagonal to differentiate it from other road traffic signs giving greater importance.

Stop Sign

What road sign is blue with red cross?

The no stopping sign is a red cross on a blue background and lets drivers know that you are not allowed to stop even for dropping off or picking up passengers.

No Stopping Sign

There are some instances of restrictions being limited to certain times of day. This is indicated by a small rectangular sign underneath the no stopping sign, letting you know the times where stopping is okay.

The no stopping sign is quite often confused with the no waiting sign which has a single line rather than a cross.

No Waiting Sign

Which road sign means no entry?

The no entry sign is a red circle with a horizontal white stripe through the centre. It indicates that all types of motor vehicles are prohibited from entering the road.

No Entry Sign

What is the colour of road work signs?

Road work signs vary in colour depending on their aim. Many of them are yellow to indicate temporary changes such as closed lanes and temporary speed limits.

temporary lane changes signRoadworks sign

If there are hazards due to the road works you will see red warnings within the sign or a sign with a red boarder.

What are black and white Chevron signs used for? 

This black sign features a prominent white chevron that indicating there is a sharp turn in the on the road ahead. They are post mounted signs found on bends. Sometimes you find them to have a yellow reflective edge to make them prominent at night.

black and white chevron sign

This black sign features a prominent white chevron that indicating there is a sharp turn in the on the road ahead. They are post mounted signs found on bends. Sometimes you find them to have a yellow reflective edge to make them prominent at night.

Why are Chevrons used on the rear works vehicles?

Chapter 8 reflective Chevrons are used as a way to improve the safety of vehicles, often works vehicles that frequent the highways. 

Reflective vehicle chevrons by chapter 8 shop


Studying the signs

New research by recently revealed 63% of drivers have been stumped by certain road signs.

The Highway Code is constantly being updated and it’s essential drivers know the meanings behind every traffic sign to keep safe on the roads.

To recap, circles give orders, triangles warn, and rectangles inform. Make sure you stay up to date and top up your road sign knowledge from time to time. To read more, check of the Department of Transport Know Your Traffic Signs manual.

Our UK speed limits and fines article explains more about the penalties you could face if you don't adhere to the speed limit signs.