Road signs: what do they mean?

cartoon of uk traffic signs on black background

Posted by We Are Marmalade on 24 August 2017

Even once you’ve passed your test, recognising and differentiating traffic signs can be somewhat confusing. A warning sign and a sign giving orders may look similar because of their colour, but their shape is what makes them completely different.

The same goes for other types of road signs! According to the Highway Code, the main ones include:-

  • Warning signs
  • Signs giving orders
  • Directions signs
  • Information signs
  • Road work signs

What are the ones you are most likely to see?

There are loads of variations of road signs in the UK and it’s unlikely you are ever going to see them all! Even if you do, most of them are quite self-explanatory… we’re pretty sure you can guess what this means!

frog traffic sign

So rather than go through every single one individually, we’ll go through some common ones you are likely to see on your day to day commute :)

Warning Signs – Warning signs are red and triangular. They are designed to alert you of what’s coming or likely to be ahead. This can range from a hump bridge, dual carriageway ending, tight bends, slippery surfaces, to pedestrians or animals crossing, roundabouts, queues likely.

generic UK traffic warning signs

Signs giving order – Mainly circular signs which are either red or blue and considered prohibitive. These can represent a strict reduction in speed, no turning in a certain direction, tell you to give way or alert that you are about to enter a one way street, no overtaking, weight and height restrictions for large vehicles, no waiting or stopping.

street sign icons for giving orders

Signs giving directions – These types of signs are usually rectangular and are mainly coloured green or brown. On motorways they tend to be blue and on local routes or within towns these are usually white. You may occasionally see a yellow sign on some roads which indicates a diversion.

generic UK traffic signs giving directions

Information Signs – These signs are either white or blue but ALWAYS rectangular. Information signs can consist of information on congestions zones, how long a vehicle can be parked somewhere for, where a speed limit ends, countdown markers to exit the motorway, speed cameras, pit stops and bus lanes. Signs for a hospital would also be considered an information sign but is the only one which will be displayed fully in red.

generic UK information traffic signs

Road Works – Are usually yellow or red and can either be rectangular or triangular. You can expect to see these signs on public roads, motorways and dual carriageways and they will mainly display information which informs drivers on slow moving or stationary works blocking off a traffic lane, loose chippings on the road, speed limits enforced due to road works, and delays possible due to road works.

generic icons of road works traffic signs

There’s a breakdown of the types of signs you can expect to see on UK roads, and to be honest they are pretty self-explanatory! For a full, extensive look at all the road signs you could potentially see in the UK – be sure to check out the official DVLA Highway Code!

If you feel you’re confident enough already with your road signs – why not test your knowledge with this quiz from Driving Test Success? Don’t be shy to send us your score either ;)

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We Are Marmalade
We Are Marmalade

We champion young drivers with award-winning low cost insurance for learner and new drivers and a great young drivers' car scheme.