When you’re driving, it’s important to pay attention to the signs on the side of the road. Roadway signs can warn drivers about potential hazards or provide information that will help with navigation. The following bullet points have pictures and meanings for 10 types of roadway signs: stop sign, yield sign, no parking sign, speed limit sign, school zone ahead sign, railroad crossing ahead sign and more!

If you don’t know the meaning of these signs, you’ll most likely fail California DMV Driving test or Behind The Wheel Test. Because violation of these signs are critical errors. You may want to check Driving Performance Evaluation Score Sheet before moving on.

Top Critical Driving Errors You Have To Avoid

These are the top critical errors you have to avoid.

  • Intervention by your examiner
  • Striking to an object or the curb.
  • Disobeying traffic signs or signals
  • Disobeying safety personnel or safety vehicles
  • Making dangerous maneuver while driving
  • Speed limit violation
  • Auxiliary equipment use
  • Lane violation

Top 10 Most Important Roadway Signs

As you can see, if you disobeying the traffic signs, you can’t pass behind the wheel driving test. There are lots of driving signs but 12 of them are most common signs that you’ll encounter while driving.

1. Stop Sign

What is Stop Sign and Its Meaning?

A stop sign is a red octagon with the word “STOP” written in white. Stop signs are most often used to control traffic on all public roads and streets when there is no other method of stopping vehicular or pedestrian traffic (like an intersection) or where it would be impractical to use another type of control device.

Stop sign is one of the universal road signs but its meaning may differ from country to country. In the United States, you have to make a full stop at a stop sign, which means you need to come to a complete halt before proceeding.

Stop Sign Wait Time

How long you should wait at the stop sign? This is one the most controversial questions among drivers in the United States. Generally, people think that you have to make a full stop at least 3 seconds. In fact, according to the law, what matters most is that you come to a complete halt. If it takes less than three seconds for your vehicle to stop and enter its lane of traffic after coming to a complete stop at the sign, this will not be a problem. Or if the vehicle makes a complete full stop more than 3 seconds, this means you have to wait more than three seconds. As the motorists, it is your responsibility to know your vehicle and the correct stop sign wait time.

Stop sign is one of the most essential roadway signs of all because motorists easily neglect this sign without knowing its importance.

2. Yield Sign

What Does Yield Sign Mean?

A yield sign asks you to prepare to stop and let other cars go first or proceed with caution. Yield Sign Warning signs are posted near roadways where there is a change in conditions that could reduce your speed, such as sharp curves, hills, intersections, or pedestrian crossings.

The yield sign is also very common in many countries. But if you are an immigrant and first time driver in the United States, the application of yield sign may differ from your home country.

A very most common definition of yield sign is as follows:

Yield means let other road users go first. A yield sign assigns the right-of-way to traffic in certain intersections. If you see a yield sign ahead, be prepared to let other drivers crossing your road take the right-of-way. And don’t forget about bicycles and pedestrians!

The main difference between a stop sign and a yield sign is that you have to make a full stop at the stop sign whether there is a vehicle or pedestrian or not. But if the road is fully empty, and there is a yield sign ahead, you don’t need to make a full stop. You can slow down and pass the crossroad.

3. No Parking Sign

What Does No Parking Sign? Parking Near Fire Hydrants?

You will see no parking signs on the edge of a roadway. The purpose of these is to prevent cars from stopping there and blocking traffic in either direction, as well as preventing pedestrians being hit by vehicles passing through that area. These are often seen near intersections or next to fire hydrants where drivers might be tempted to pull over for just a couple of minutes and run into a store.

There are also two important situations where there may not be a no parking sign but you shouldn’t park there. If the curbside is painted red, this means you shouldn’t park there in under no circumstances. If there are diagonal yellow lines, which is a no parking sign in some areas and means you can’t park at night or weekends. Also, if there is a fire hydrant, there are strict regulations according to California Laws.

No person shall stop, park, or leave standing any vehicle within 15 feet of a fire hydrant except as follows:

  1. If the vehicle is attended by a licensed driver who is seated in the front seat and who can immediately move such vehicle in case of necessity.
  2. If the local authority adopts an ordinance or resolution reducing that distance. If the distance is less than 10 feet total length when measured along the curb or edge of the street, the distance shall be indicated by signs or markings.
  3. If the vehicle is owned or operated by a fire department and is clearly marked as a fire department vehicle.

4. Speed Limit Sign and Its Meaning

Speed Limit Signs are posted in order to inform drivers of the maximum speed limit that they can travel on a particular roadway. The signs indicate the legal maximum, and may be ignored if it is unsafe or impractical to drive at that rate. Speed limits vary based on factors such as road conditions, curves, hillsides, traffic density, weather hazards and other factors.

Speed Limit Sign

In California, speed limit at highways is 65 mph. Unless otherwise posted, the maximum speed limit is 55 mph on two-lane undivided highways and for vehicles towing trailers. If you are near a school zone, the speed limit is 25 mph. So you have to be careful while driving and check speed times from time to time. Current speed limit may be deceiving if you driving in a neighborhood. You can suddenly enter into a school zone where speed limit is different than current speed limit.

Driving at high speeds is not safe and can lead to collisions with other drivers or pedestrians on the road. Remember that these rules may differ from state-to-state as per traffic density.

5. U Turn Sign and Its Meaning

U-Turn sign or u-turn arrow U-turn means that you can make a u turn from the lane in which it is posted or at an intersection where one street ends, crosses another street, and turns into itself to form a “u” shape. This is typically a full 180 degree turn that results in traveling in the opposite direction from when you started. If it is illegal to make a u-turn, you can get a ticket from police officers.

California traffic regulations about u-turns is as follows:

No person in a residence district shall make a U-turn when any other vehicle is approaching from either direction within 200 feet, except at an intersection when the approaching vehicle is controlled by an official traffic control device.

6. School Zone Ahead Sign and Its Meaning

You can find these signs on the streets of California. They indicate that a school zone ahead, and you have to drive at 25 mph speed limit when passing through this area. It is a critical sign that warns you reduce speed immediately because children may be crossing the street.

The “School Zone Ahead” sign is to remind you that there are children near, and you have to slow down when passing through this area.

7. Railroad Crossing Signs and Their Meanings:

A railroad crossing sign is a warning that a railway crosses the road ahead. There are three types of signs- stop/slow, stop and no trespassing. You should always slow down when you see this sign because it may be too late to react if something suddenly happens in front of you at the last moment.

Stop/Slow: You must come to a complete stop before crossing any railroad track that has these signs posted or you will be charged with violating traffic laws. These crossings are usually also marked by one or more sets of flashing red lights, bells, and gates.

No Trespassing: This type of sign warns people that they are entering private property and the only person who can enter after you have read this sign is the owner or someone authorized by them.

8. Left Turn Sign and Its Meaning

If you are driving in California and also in many other US States, you’ll see that many intersections do not have any traffic circles in the middle of the intersection.

Because of this, most of the time, if you want to turn to the left at the intersection and if there is no traffic light indicating left turn, you have to be very careful and check the left turn signs. In many different situations, left turn may be different.

There is a detail explanation about left turns in the official DMV websites. Here is the official explanation:

Left turns– To make a left turn, drive close to the center divider line or into the left turn lane. Begin signaling
about 100 feet before the turn. Look over your left shoulder and reduce your speed. Stop behind the limit line. Look left, then right, then left again, and make the turn when it is safe. When you turn left, do not turn too soon and “cut the corner” of the lane belonging to the vehicles coming towards you.

9. Right Turn Sign and Its Meaning

The right-turn rule in the United States is that a vehicle must yield to oncoming traffic before turning. This means that if you are traveling eastbound and want to turn left, then you should wait for other people who may be coming from the west or southbound lanes.

There is an important difference in the United States about right turn on red than most of the other countries in the world. While it is generally prohibited to turn on red in many countries, the US laws allow motorists to make a right turn on red if the road conditions are safe and if there is no sign otherwise such as as “No turn on red”.

10. One Way Sign and Its Meaning

If you see a one-way sign, it means that the street is only open in one direction. Do not cross if there’s no crossing signal or lights! If you are traveling on this road and have to turn right at some point, make sure that cars coming from other directions will let you go first by waiting for them and also be careful about not bumping into the other cars.

Roadway Signs and Their Meanings

There are of course more than 10 roadway signs in the United States and the priority list may be different for you. But the ones we chose are the most common ten roadway signs that you’ll see in your daily commute. Some of them may seem less significant but in fact, you can easily get a ticket if you violate one of them. For example, stop sign may seem less important if you are new in the United States. But if you do not make a full stop at a stop sign, most likely you’ll not get your driver license because this is one of the critical errors in a DMV Behind The Wheel Test.

For the complete list of roadway signs, you can check this list.