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How Road Warning Signs Tell Stories

July 23, 2018

Every driver is aware of road warning signs and what they mean. They usually alert the driver to slow down or proceed with caution. Your school, HOA, or business may need to post road warning signs on or near your property to help create safer and smoother traffic conditions. Here are important points to remember about road warning signs.

Wide Variety of Warning Signs

Hundreds of different possibilities exist for road warning signs, which typically indicates an upcoming hazardous situation or potential for danger. All of these signs must meet the requirements of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). One way in which drivers can instantly distinguish types of signs is by color. White backgrounds are commonly used for regulatory messages, while yellow backgrounds usually convey a warning. Fluorescent yellow is used for schools and pedestrian crossings.

Regulatory signs come in various shapes, while warning signs are usually diamond-shaped. School zones are usually depicted by pentagon-shaped signs. The FHWA has developed numerous standards for warning signs across America. These standards and specifications are presented in the organization’s Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).

It’s possible to customize your own road sign as long as it conforms with federal, state, and local regulations. Every organization has its unique set of circumstances, which is why there is no one-size-fits-all solution for posting specific signs. It’s important for drivers to know when driving options are reduced or the overall traffic flow shifts to stricter and tighter traffic control.

Warning signs helps tell a story to drivers of what lies on the road ahead. They help drivers make adjustments when a road narrows or comes to an end at an upcoming intersection. For the most part they are advisories that promote safety.

Warning vs. Regulatory Signs

The main difference between warning and regulatory signs beyond shapes and colors is the magnitude of authority communicated by the message. Regulatory signs reflect requirements of federal, state, and local laws, such as the following:

  • Stop
  • 4-Way
  • Yield
  • Do Not Enter
  • No U Turn
  • One Way
  • HOV Lane
  • Photo Enforced
  • Speed Limit
  • Truck Weight Limit

Warning signs, on the other hand, often have less to do with the law and more to do with safety. The speed limit might be 25 mph in a residential area but there may be a need to warn drivers to reduce speed for the safety of themselves and others. Warning signs are often depicted by images, arrows and road symbols. Common road warning signs include:

  • Sharp Curve Ahead
  • Left Turn Ahead
  • Winding Road Ahead
  • T-Intersection Ahead
  • Y-Intersection Ahead
  • Entering Roadway Merge Right
  • Hill With Grade
  • Farm Machinery Crossing
  • Divided Highway Ahead
  • Signal Ahead

There are countless warning signs to choose from for your property. You may need lower speed limits for certain parts of a roadway due to weather or roadwork. Warning signs remind drivers that your neighborhood cares about safety for drivers and pedestrians. For more information about road warning signs, contact Zumar at our Arizona, California or Washington location.

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