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Reducing Danger With Yield Signs

September 18, 2019

Traffic often slows down as a result of strategically placed yield signs. These yellow or red and white signs that come in various shapes are usually placed in areas where danger of a traffic collision may be present, such as when two lanes merge into one. Here are essential facts to know about how yield signs reduce traffic collisions.

Variations of Yield Sign Messages

  • Right of Way
  • Pedestrian Crossing
  • This Truck Makes Wide Turns
  • Yield Ahead

Where the Yield Sign Comes From

The history of yield signs traces back to 1950 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where a police officer named Clinton E. Riggs mounted an early version. There were already rules in place that required drivers to slow down or stop in certain situations, but Riggs designed the original sign. His yellow sign with black lettering was in the shape of a keystone, which later transformed into the equilateral triangle shape. He added the words “Right of Way” after “Yield” to clarify the message.

Riggs came up with the idea after noticing too much traffic at an uncontrolled intersection in Tulsa. An uncontrolled intersection is one without a stop sign, stop light, pavement marking or other form of traffic control. He and city engineer Paul Rice, who is often more credited by media, installed the sign without permission from authorities. The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) issued its version of the sign in 1954 for use at unmarked intersections. In 1971, the official version of the sign shifted to a red triangle encasing a white triangle bearing the word “Yield” in red letters.

Other variations of the yield signs have sprung up since then to include extra phrasing. Many of the signs are diamond-shaped with yellow backgrounds, black trim and black lettering.

Intent of the Yield Sign

The original intent of the yield sign by Riggs was to slow down traffic at unmarked intersections while letting drivers know they could be held liable for not complying with the warning.

Today the yield sign is used for multiple purposes, such as a message to drivers to let other drivers go first in merging situations. In some cases, the right of way goes to the driver who arrives at an intersection first. Another scenario may involve a freeway offramp merging into a street with ongoing traffic. Sometimes the sign is used as a warning to yield to pedestrians or bicyclists.


Yield signs help control traffic speeds and flow by warning drivers to yield to other drivers or situations. Contact Zumar at our Arizona, California or Washington location to learn more about posting appropriate road signs to make traffic safer.

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