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Meanings of Triangle Road Signs

November 27, 2019

Can you guess a road sign’s message from far away by its shape? Perhaps after years of driving you have subconsciously become accustomed to the fact that triangular signs are used for warnings of potential hazards ahead. Here are some important facts about triangle road signs and what they mean to drivers.

Common Triangle Road Signs

Due to sign shape, which limits the amount of text that is displayed, many triangular signs just use black images of road configurations. Some of the most common include the following:

  • Crossroad (cross to indicate intersection)
  • T Junction (T-shape, signaling the road ends at an intersection)
  • Y Junction (Y-shape, meaning a fork in the road)
  • Gentle Curve (arrow points gently in a direction)
  • Sharp Curve (arrow points sharply in a direction)
  • Winding Road (arrow includes twists)

Almost all of these triangular signs have a thick red border surrounding the text or image on a white background. Black imagery is common, but sometimes color is added, such as for the image of a stop light with red, yellow and green lights.

Triangle Shape Variations

In many cases, triangular signs point upward to indicate various warning messages besides yield, whereas when an equalateral triangle points downward it specifically means Yield. Road sign messages, shapes and colors are determined by the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). An isosceles triangle that points to the right, exclusively means you are entering a no passing zone.

Why Colors Matter for Shapes

In the U.S. red signs, or signs with red borders, indicate that they are regulatory and must be obeyed. Yellow, on the other hand, indicates a warning to advise drivers to stay alert, but does not mandate any type of driver action. So a red Yield sign means you must slow down and yield the right of way to traffic, whereas a yellow Yield sign is an advisory. These signs are commonly placed near intersections, freeway entrances or exits.

Some triangle signs have no text or image, but communicate exclusively with shape and color. A reflective orange triangle sign, for example, appears on the rear of certain vehicles to indicate speed of 35 mph or less. These signs are often seen on farming or road work equipment and are even used for horse-drawn carriages. In the daytime the sign appears to be solid orange, whereas at night it looks like a hollow red triangle.

For High Quality Regulation Signs, Contact Zumar

It’s good for drivers to know the meanings of all road signs they encounter, especially triangle road signs with red as a complete border or background. Contact Zumar at our Arizona, California or Washington location to learn more about appropriate designs for road signs.

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