Topic Category: traffic signs

Work zones

the lives of highway construction workers depend on drivers like you obeying the posted speed limits. If you are convicted of exceeding the speed limit in a highway work zone, you may be fined up to $500. Remember, the color orange marks a work zone and means slow down.

These signs are used when certain road conditions, such as loose gravel or road construction, affect the roadway surface and create potentially difficult conditions for motorists, especially motorcyclists.

Road Construction Ahead – Detour: These signs indicate a change in the traffic pattern or route ahead. Slow down. Unusual or potentially dangerous conditions are ahead.

Flashing Arrow Panels: Large flashing arrow panels or flashing message signs in work zones direct drivers to proceed into different traffic lanes and inform them that part of the road ahead is closed.

Flaggers: Flaggers are construction workers who normally wear orange or yellow vests, or yellow-green shirts or jackets. They use STOP/SLOW paddles and red flags to direct traffic through the work zone and to let other workers or construction vehicles cross the road.

Traffic Control Devices: Barricades, vertical signs, concrete barriers, drums and cones are the most common devices used to guide drivers safely through work zones. When driving near the devices, keep your vehicle in the middle of the lane and obey the posted speed limit. As you leave the
work zone, stay in your lane and maintain your speed. Don’t change lanes until you are completely clear of the work zone.

Message Boards: You may see portable or permanent message boards along roadways. They provide information about traffic, road, weather or other hazardous conditions. Always obey any directions posted on these message boards. For information about road conditions or road construction, visit the Virginia Department of Transportation website at

Slow Moving Vehicle: Vehicles that travel at 25 MPH or less, such as farm equipment and horse-drawn vehicles, must display these signs when using a public highway. Be prepared to adjust your speed or position when you see a vehicle with one of these signs.

Railroad Crossings

Railroad Crossing: Advance warning signs are placed before a railroad crossing. These signs warn you to look, listen, slow down and be prepared to stop for trains or any vehicles using the rails.

Railroad Crossbuck: This sign is a warning of a railroad crossing. Look, listen, slow down and be prepared to stop for trains or any vehicles using the rails.

Railroad Crossbuck and Track Indicator: If there is more than one track, the sign below the crossbuck will indicate the number of tracks at the crossing. Slow down and be prepared to stop. Note: School buses must always stop at railroad crossings, even when the lights are not flashing.

Railroad Crossbuck and Flashing Lights: Flashing lights may be used with crossbuck signs. Always stop when the light begins to flash and be alert for approaching trains. Do
not proceed until all trains or any other vehicles using the rails have passed, the tracks are clear, and the lights are no longer flashing. Be especially alert at multi-track crossings because a second train could be approaching from the opposite direction.

Note: School buses must always stop at railroad crossings, even when the lights are not flashing.

Crossbuck, Flashing Lights and Gate: Gates are used with flashing light signals at some crossings. Stop when the lights begin to flash and before the gate lowers. Remain stopped until the gates are raised and the lights stop flashing. Do not attempt to drive around the lowered gate.

If a dangerous condition exists at a rail crossing, call the number listed on the emergency sign. This will allow
the rail company to stop or reroute approaching rail traffic until the hazard is removed. Be sure to give the posted crossing number so that the hazard can be identified correctly.

Pavement markings, consisting of an X and RR, may be painted on the pavement at the approach to some crossings. When approaching railroad tracks, be alert. Trains may approach the crossing at any time and from either direction. Unless you can clear the tracks completely, never start across the tracks. Make sure there is room for your
vehicle on the other side of the tracks before proceeding.

If your car stalls on the tracks, don’t hesitate. Get out of the car right away and run diagonally away from the tracks in the direction of the oncoming train.

Warning signs

Warning signs alert you to possible hazards ahead. Slow down and watch for other signs or signals that may follow.

Roundabout: These signs indicate a circular intersection with an island in the center is ahead. Also called rotaries or traffic circles, these intersections may have one or more lanes. Entering traffic must yield the right-of-way to traffic already in the circle.

Advisory Speed: This sign indicates the
maximum safe speed for a highway exit.

Signal Ahead: Traffic signals are ahead. Slow
down and be ready to stop.

No Passing Zone: This sign marks the beginning of a no passing zone. You may not pass cars ahead of you in your lane, even if the way is clear.

Merge: Two lanes of traffic moving in the same direction are about to become one. Drivers in both lanes are responsible for merging safely.

Lane Reduction: The right lane ends soon. Drivers in the right lane must merge left when space opens up. Drivers in the left lane should allow other vehicles to merge smoothly.

Divided Highway Begins: The highway ahead is split into two separate roadways by a median or divider and each roadway is one-way. Keep right.

Divided Highway Ends: The highway ahead no longer has a median or divider. Traffic goes in both directions. Keep right.

Slippery When Wet: When pavement is wet, reduce your speed. Do not brake hard or change direction suddenly. Increase the distance between your car and the one ahead
of you.

Low Clearance Sign: The overpass ahead has a low clearance. Do not proceed if your vehicle is taller than the height shown on the sign.

Hill: A steep grade is ahead. Check your brakes.

Deer Crossing: Deer cross the roadway in this area. Slow down, be alert and be ready to stop.

Pedestrian Crossing: Watch for people entering a crosswalk or crossing your path. Slow down and be prepared to stop. Signs may display horizontal lines showing the point where a crosswalk exists. A second sign with an arrow may show the actual location of the crosswalk. (Signs may also be bright yellowgreen.)

Bicycle Crossing/Bike Path: Bicycles regularly cross or ride beside traffic in this area. Drive with caution. A second sign with an arrow may show the actual location of the bike crossing. (Signs may also be bright yellow-green.)

School Zone/School Crossing: Slow down. The speed limit is usually 25 MPH. Watch out for children crossing the street or playing. Be ready to stop. Obey signals from any crossing guards. Signs may display horizontal lines indicating the point where a crosswalk exists. A second sign with an arrow may show the actual location of the crosswalk. (Signs may also be bright yellow-green.)

Open Joints: Slow down. Open joints on bridges or ramps could cause a motorcyclist to lose control of the motorcycle.

Expansion Joints: This sign is used when a joint across lanes creates a bump or is wide enough to cause loss of traction in wet weather.

Crossroad: A four-way intersection is ahead. Be ready to yield the right-of-way.

Side Road: A road joins from the right. Be alert for vehicles entering the roadway you are traveling on.

Y Intersection: You must bear either right or left ahead.

T Intersection: The roadway you are traveling on ends ahead. Signal before turning right or left.

Right Curve – Side Road: The road ahead curves right and a side road joins from the left within the curve. Be alert for vehicles entering the roadway you are traveling on.

Sharp Right Turn: Slow down and be prepared for a sharp right turn in the road ahead.

Sharp Right and Left Turns: Slow down and be prepared for the road ahead to turn sharply right, then left.

Right and Left Curves: The road ahead curves right, then left. Slow down.

Right Curve with Safe Speed Indicator: The road ahead curves right. Slow down to the safe speed limit indicated.

Winding Road: The road ahead winds with a series of turns or curves. On all curves, slow down for better control.

Regulatory/guide signs

Regulatory signs inform you of the law; you must obey their instructions. Remember that a red circle with a slash means NO — the symbol inside the circle tells you what is prohibited.

Speed Limit: These signs tell you the maximum legal speed that you may drive on the road where the sign is posted when weather conditions are good. During rain, snow and ice, you may receive a ticket for driving too fast for the conditions even if you are driving at or less than the posted speed limit.

Do Not Enter – Wrong Way: These signs mean you cannot drive in that direction. If you drive past these signs you are going in the wrong direction and could get into a head-on crash with vehicles headed your way. Cautiously turn around.

One Way: Traffic flows only in the direction of the arrow

No Left Turn: Left turns are against the law. In Virginia, U-turns are considered as two left turns and are illegal if this sign is posted.

No Right Turn: Right turns are illegal. Do not make a right turn when you see this sign.

No U-Turn: U-turns are illegal. Do not make a
U-turn when you see this sign.

No Turn on Red: You may not turn on the red light. Wait for the signal to turn green.

Do Not Pass: This sign marks the beginning of a no passing zone. You may not pass cars ahead of you in your lane, even if the way is clear.

Left Turn Yield on Green: This sign is used with a traffic signal. It tells you that the traffic turning left at a green light does not have the right-of-way and must yield to traffic coming from the other direction. Stop and look for oncoming traffic, then proceed with caution.

Keep Right: A traffic island, median or barrier is
ahead. Keep to the side indicated by the arrow.

Lane Use Control: These signs are used where turns are required or where special turning movements are permitted for specific lanes. Traffic in the lane must turn in the direction of the arrow.

High Occupancy Vehicle: These signs indicate
lanes reserved for buses and vehicles with a
driver and one or more passengers as specified
on the sign.

Disabled Parking: Parking spaces marked with these signs are reserved for people with disabled parking permits.

Identifying signs by shape

Octagon (stop): This eight-sided shape always means stop. You must come to a complete stop at the sign, stop line, pedestrian crosswalk or curb. Wait for any vehicle or pedestrian to clear the way. At some intersections you’ll find a sign beneath the stop sign that reads “All Way” or “4 Way.” At these intersections all vehicles on all roads leading into the intersection must stop. If you get to the intersection at the same time as other vehicles, the driver on the left must yield to the driver on the right.

Triangle (yield): You must slow down as you come to the intersection. Be prepared to stop. Let any vehicles, pedestrians or bicyclists safely pass before you proceed.

Rectangle: Vertical signs generally give instructions or tell you the
law. Horizontal signs may give directions or information.

Diamond: These signs warn you
of special conditions or hazards ahead. Slow
down and drive with caution. Be ready to stop.

Pentagon (School Zone/School Crossing):This five-sided shape marks school zones and warns you about school crossings. Signs may display horizontal lines indicating the point at which a crosswalk exists. Two signs may be used together to show the actual location of the crosswalk. (Signs may also be bright yellow-green.)

Traffic signs

The shape of a traffic sign communicates important information about the sign’s message. In poor visibility conditions, such as heavy fog, you may be able to make out only the shape of a sign.