Back to Blog

The Significance of Triangle Road Signs

June 12, 2018

Words aren’t the only way traffic signs communicate to drivers. Shapes, symbols, and colors also send messages. Triangle signs stand out as unique and generally represent yield or a warning. Let’s take a deeper look at the purpose and usage of triangle road signs.

Language of Symbols

Symbols and images were the first forms of written language because they were easy to identify before alphabets were constructed. Over time the triangle came to symbolize strength across multiple cultures (as in Egyptian pyramids).

Ancient Greeks viewed the triangle as a doorway and used it for the upper case “delta” symbol, representing the fourth letter of their alphabet. It has also taken on multiple other meanings such as power, intellect, harmony, proportion and integration.

Evolution of the Yield Sign

There are now various usages for triangle road signs, but it’s most commonly recognized as a “yield” sign. The Federal Highway Administration’s Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) first adopted a yellow yield sign featuring a more rectangular shape with slanted sides in the early 1950s. It said “Right of Way” under “Yield,” both with bold black font. By 1956 it was changed to an inverted yellow triangle with the same text encased in a black border. The triangle was chosen since it’s more readily recognizable by drivers.

In 1971 the era of the modern yield sign began with an inverted triangle that said “yield” in red letters over a white background surrounded by a thick red border with black and white trim. This configuration instructs drivers to allow other traffic to go first.

Other Triangle Signs

Triangle signs work for countless other warnings, due to their shape. Upside down triangles always mean yield, but there’s plenty of room for customization, depending on the reason for slowing down. Symbols can be placed within the outer red border to communicate the following alerts:

  • narrowing lane ahead
  • danger
  • deer or other animals
  • arrows that depict 2-way traffic
  • bicyclists

Similar to a triangle is the pennant shape, which is more like a flag. Pennant signs tell drivers there will be no passing zones ahead. A pentagon shape is also similar, but has five sides and it used to indicate school pedestrians.

Triangle road signs are powerful tools to slow down traffic when changes to the driving experience are needed ahead for safety reasons. For more information about traffic and business signs, call Zumar at our Arizona, California or Washington location.

Product Added

Go to Quote Request Form

Continue Product Search