US Road Sign Shapes and Colors – What you Must Know

Why is Learning Road Sign Shapes and Colors Important?

You should learn the language of road sign shapes and colors because you must recognize them from a distance and react to their message in time and appropriately.

During winter, snow or ice may cover road signs and make them hard to see. If you approach an eight-sided and red road sign, you know you must come to a complete stop, even if you cannot see the word stop. If the sign ahead is an upside-down triangle, you know it is a yield sign. Watch for traffic and be prepared to stop.

Whenever you see a round sign, you know a railroad crossing is ahead, even if you cannot see the symbols on the sign. Watch for signals, closing gates and trains. Remember that the railroad crossing sign is the only round sign in the United States.

Five-sided shape

Pentagon-Shaped Road Signs

Another unique road sign shape is the pentagon. It marks school areas and school crossings. When necessary, slow down and obey the speed limits.

Diamond shaped sign

Diamond-Shaped Road Signs

Diamond-shaped road signs indicate a possible hazard on the road or close by. They also alert you to changing roadway conditions. These warning signs can be yellow, orange, or pink. If unsure what the sign means, slow down and be alert.

Vertical rectangles

Regulatory Road Signs

Regulatory signs are mostly vertical rectangles or square-shaped. You must always obey regulatory signs. Slow down until you can read and understand the sign.

Horizontal rectangles

Guide signs

Horizontal rectangle road signs are usually guide signs. They show locations, directions, or other special information. They may be blue, green, or brown. If you are on a long trip and looking for a rest area, watch for a blue sign. If you want to find a special exit on the interstate, look for a green sign.

Do You Know What These Shapes Mean?


Road Signs Test

All road sign shapes and colors appear on our free online test for U.S. Road Signs. You can take a road sign practice test focused on just shapes and colors here: U.S. Road Signs – Shapes and Colors Quiz

This blog post has another short road sign test: Road Sign Shapes Test for Your Permit

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