3 Ways to Read and Use Road Safety Signs

Did you know there’s an average of 40,000 fatalities during car accidents per year in the United States? Understanding road safety signs is a great way to lower your chance of road accidents. But how can you ensure your safety on the road with these signs?

If you’re curious to learn about road safety signs, we’re here to help. Read on to learn about how signs can help improve your safety on the road.

1. Understand the Color of Signs

One of the most important things you can do to improve your understanding of road safety signs is to learn the color. If you’ve driven down a road, you’ve likely seen signs in several different colors.

But did you know that these colors are an indicator of something? The color of a sign is crucial to understanding what the symbols on them mean.

If you know the color, you can adequately guess at what’s being stated. Here are the main color signs you’ll see and what each means.


Red signs are the most striking you’ll see on the road. Arguably, these signs are also the most important.

If a sign is red, it marks a regulation or an alert. Should you see one of these signs, you should read it immediately and see if it applies to you.

One common example of a red sign is a “wrong way” sign. These signs indicate that you’re driving against traffic. You may see them if you’re getting onto the highway using an exit, which can cause a fatal accident.

A more common sign you might see is a stop sign. Yield signs are also red.

These common signs show that a red sign is one that needs to be immediately followed. If you fail to follow a red sign, you’re generally breaking the law and causing a significant threat. Many fatal accidents result from people not following these signs properly.


Another important sign color is orange signs. Orange signs are often used to give alerts similar to red signs. However, orange signs are rarely as urgent as red signs are.

Orange signs highlight temporary road conditions. You’ll often see these near construction zones.

An orange sign may indicate that one lane is closed up ahead for construction. It may also show that there are workers present.

You should follow these signs while they’re there, but you won’t need to memorize their location. When the temporary conditions have ended, the signs are removed.

Some signs are so temporary that construction crews don’t install them. Instead, you’ll see a worker holding one up. These often work for traffic direction as well.


A final sign that indicates hazards is the yellow sign. You’ve likely seen yellow signs on roads or in neighborhoods.

Yellow signs are used to indicate different road conditions. They’re often used to help show the road ahead or what you should expect from your driving experience.

These are different from the way orange and red show road conditions. Orange tends to warn of man-made hazards and red warns of the flow of traffic. Yellow shows states of the road that are always present.

For example, yellow signs may show a curving road. They often warn of upcoming speed bumps or tell you that you should expect hazards during certain weather.

You should memorize these signs if they’re somewhere you drive often. The hazards they present are always there.


White signs present traffic regulation information. The information on a white sign is important but rarely urgent. They’re signs that you should read as you pass them without emergency.

An example of a white traffic sign is a “no turn on red” sign. These signs are present at traffic lights to indicate that you can’t turn on a red light.

Another frequently-seen white sign is the speed limit sign. A speed limit sign can show you your maximum – or minimum – allowed speed.

Disobeying a white sign usually means breaking the law. You should read them and make sure you know what they’re warning you of before continuing.


Brown signs are seen less often in suburban or city areas. Brown signs are great for tourists or for people that are visiting for other reasons.

Brown signs point toward city attractions or places to visit. You may find a brown sign pointing you toward a state park or museum.

If you see one of these on the back road, you’re likely driving toward a state park. Inside a city, these often point toward internal attractions like science centers.

Brown signs are rarely crucial unless you’re looking for the place they’re pointing out. You should read them as you pass so you know what entertainment options the area has. Otherwise, they won’t have any vital information.


Blue signs are ones that you’ll rarely see in a suburb or small township. Blue signs give road services and directions.

A blue sign is most frequently seen on a highway or while jumping between cities. They’ll highlight where the nearest rest station is or the distance to a close gas station.

Another use for these signs is to see what a highway exit has. If you’re looking for somewhere to sleep, these signs will point out local lodging areas.

They also have information on hospitals, phone booths, restaurants, and more. Pay attention to these signs while on a road trip. They’ll help you see what you should expect to find.


Finally, green signs are useful for navigation across counties, cities, or states. A green sign will give you directions and distance.

You may see a green sign that points to the left and has a city name. There will then be a number next to the name, typically on the right. That means that the city being named is to the left, with the number standing for how many miles away it is.

You can use these signs to help you navigate around smaller communities. If you’re on the interstate, these signs help you see how far you are from your destination.

2. Ensure Proper Visibility

Now that we understand more about road signs, it’s important to make sure you can read them. But how can you improve your visibility?

Clean Windshield

The best way to improve your visibility is by keeping your windshield clean. A clean windshield gives good visibility for everything!

By keeping your windshield clean, you make sure you can see the signs as you pass them. A blurry windshield may make it so you can see the color but not the symbol. You also may make mistakes reading numbers, such as for speed limit signs or green signs.

In rainy or otherwise severe weather, visibility is cut down. Keep your windshield wipers new and functioning to help your visibility in these situations.

You can improve your safety on the road by improving your visibility. Signs are just the beginning!

Obey Speed Limits

A second way to keep your visibility optimal is to obey speed limits. Obeying the speed limit is crucial to road safety, especially with signs.

Signs are often sized so that you have ample time to see and read them. However, if you’re going too fast, you may not have time to read the sign.

You also may find yourself causing road accidents if you try to read the sign while speeding. Make sure you’re staying under the speed limit so you don’t endanger anyone with your driving! Whether you’re reading signs or not, maintaining the speed limit is vital.

Did you know displayed signs can impact legality? You can visit alphaaccidentlawyers.com to learn more about how the law is affected by signage.

3. Take Time to Learn the Signs

Finally, you should take the time to learn precisely what the signs are saying. Many signs use strange symbols to get across what they mean.

Yellow signs in particular have many symbols that you won’t understand at first. If you’re a new driver, take the time to learn what each of these signs means.

Understanding the colors is a good start, but there’s more that you’ll want to work on. If you’re studying for your driving safety test, you should brush up on these for the exam. These tests frequently ask you what each sign means.

If you aren’t studying, they’re still crucial to know. These signs will often indicate when you can or can’t merge or give other vital road directions. Make sure you know what they’re saying!

Understanding Road Safety Signs

Road safety signs are a vital part of safety on the road. Understanding what a sign is warning you of can help you avoid road accidents and complete your drive. Do your best to study up on signs you don’t know so you can drive safer during your commute.

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