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Topic 8 - Road and Traffic signs

This multiple choice section will clarify and teach the pupil all the different road and traffic signs necessary to passing this section of multiple choice

What are road and traffic signs?

The eighth topic from the theory test is road and traffic signs. Whilst all of the topics we’ve covered (and are going to cover) are vital in helping you become a safe driver, road and traffic signs probably take the cake in terms of importance. Once you get behind the wheel in your lessons, you’ll need to be able to identify road and traffic signs and know what action(s) you need to take. Otherwise, you could end up endangering yourself and other road users.

In this section of multiple choice, you’ll find out about what you can learn from:

What do the shapes of signs mean?

Circle = Orders

Circular signs give orders – they must be followed to stay within the law. Circles with a red border tell you what you must not do (e.g. take a U-turn). Blue circles usually give positive instruction, such as ‘turn left ahead’.

Triangle = Warning

Triangular signs warn. Road signs in the shape of an equilateral triangle are designed to warn you about the road layout or any hazards that lie ahead, such as sharp bends. They almost always have a red border.

Rectangle = Info

Rectangular signs inform. Blue rectangular signs give information on motorways, green signs direct you on primary roads, while white signs give directions on minor roads. Rectangular signs can also indicate bus lanes and congestion charge zones.

Octagon = Stop Sign

Inverted Triangle = Give Way

Commonly Confused Road Signs

National Speed Limit

A white circular sign with a single black diagonal stripe through it tells you that the national speed limit applies on the upcoming stretch of road. It supersedes any previous speed limit signs you may have had to adhere to, such as passing through temporary roadworks. But what are the national speed limits?

 

Built-up area: On a road where there are street lamps placed no more than 200 yards apart, the speed limit is 30mph for all vehicles.


Single carriageway: For cars and vans, the speed limit is 60mph, or 50mph if you’re towing a trailer or caravan.


Dual carriageway and motorway: It’s 70mph for cars and vans, or 60mph if you’re towing a trailer or caravan.


Of course, even when the national speed limit applies, it might not always be safe to drive at that speed, so use your common sense on this.

No waiting /Urban Clearway

‘No waiting’ signs are easily confused with ‘no stopping’ signs. Rather than displaying a red cross, they feature a single diagonal red stripe on the same blue background.

 

Drivers are allowed to drop off or pick up a passenger in a no waiting zone, although anything longer is prohibited.

 

The signs are almost always used alongside (or within) rectangular yellow signs which show details of enforcement hours.

No Stopping/Clearway

A red cross over a blue background indicates a clearway, which means you’re not allowed to stop – not even to set down or pick up passengers.

 

In some instances, restrictions may only apply at certain times of the day. You tend to see this sign on major commuter roads, such as Red Routes, or outside schools.

 

This is one of the most commonly misunderstood signs, and many drivers have fallen foul of the law by parking on a clearway.

No Motor Vehicles

This sign means that you must not drive any motor vehicle down a road where this is displayed. It could be that the area is reserved for pedestrians and cyclists only.

 

This no motor vehicles sign showing a motorbike over a car is sometimes misunderstood to mean only cars and motorcycles are permitted.

No Overtaking

There are several reasons why you might see this sign – it is often displayed when the road has poor visibility or if it’s too narrow for safe overtaking.

 

It also warns you when there’s a high risk of vehicles pulling out from parking spaces or driveways that would increase the risk of a head-on collision.

Two-way traffic straight ahead

Sometimes you’ll see a red triangular sign with two black arrows pointing in opposite directions. These are used to make you aware that you’re about to leave a separated one-way street and enter a two-way road.

 

If the arrows are positioned vertically, it means the road you’re driving on will soon carry two-way traffic.

 

You should keep to the left-hand side of the road and be aware of oncoming traffic. If they’re horizontal, it indicates that you’ll have to turn either left or right to join the two-way road ahead.

People walking along the road

A sign showing the silhouette of an adult and child holding hands lets drivers know that pedestrians might be present on the road ahead. Like other warning signs, it appears in a red triangle.

 

A second sign reading ‘No footway for X yds’ may also feature where pedestrians may be in the road for longer distances.

Road Narrows

This ‘bottleneck’ sign looks very similar to the ‘dual carriageway ends’ sign, except for one key difference; the vertical lines remain separate despite coming closer together.

 

Pay special attention to nearby road markings, as the width of lanes will begin to change.

End of dual carriageway

This ‘bottleneck’ sign looks very similar to the ‘dual carriageway ends’ sign, except for one key difference; the vertical lines remain separate despite coming closer together.

 

Pay special attention to nearby road markings, as the width of lanes will begin to change.

You can view the full Road and Traffic Sign booklet by Clicking Here

Road Markings

Road markings are another way that you can be given information, orders or warnings, in addition to road signs. White paint is used to indicate lane divisions. The amount of paint on the road is generally indicative of the level of hazard ahead.

Middle of the road

Side of the road

Across of the road

Traffic Lights

Traffic lights are signalling devices positioned at road intersections, pedestrian crossings, and other locations to control the flows of traffic. They work in a sequence and different colours instruct you to do a different thing. The traffic light sequence is as follows;

Some traffic lights have a green filter arrow. This means you can go only in the direction of the arrow. This applies even in the case that the main light isn’t showing green.

If a set of traffic lights is out of order then nobody has priority. This means that you should travel very carefully and be ultra-vigilant. There may or may not be a sign telling you that the lights aren’t working, so you need to use your judgment and watch the flow of traffic.

 

At roadworks you may have a temporary set of traffic lights or else traffic can be controlled by a police officer or a ‘stop/go’ board. Police or Traffic officers may signal to you if they’re directing traffic. You MUST obey any signals given by police or traffic officers, traffic wardens, and signs used by school crossing patrols, otherwise known as lollypop ladies.

 

At some locations, such as level crossings, lifting bridges, or outside fire stations, you may see red flashing lights being used, you MUST stop when these show.

Car Signals

Indicating

Indicating is the most common signal you will see and use to tell other drivers that you wish to turn. To avoid confusing other road users you should ensure that your indicators are cancelled after you’ve turned and be aware that another driver may have left their indicator on by mistake.

Car Horn

Another way of signalling your intentions is to use your horn or lights to alert another road user to the fact that you are there. You must not use your horn between 11.30 pm and 7.00 am when driving in a built-up area or when your car is stationary. The only exception to this is if another road user has placed you in danger.

Car Lights

Like your horn, headlights are to only be used to alert other road users of your presence. You can use your hazard warning lights briefly to warn drivers behind you that there’s an obstruction ahead if you’re driving on a motorway or unrestricted dual carriageway.