We and our third party partners use technology such as cookies on our site. This is to give you a better experience, analyse how you and other visitors use this website and show you relevant, tailored advertisements. By using this website you agree to the use of cookies. You can read our Cookies Policy using the link in the footer of this page.

Accept cookies

Legal guide to UK motoring, sections for law enforcement, Driver licensing, learner and new drivers, buying and selling, speeding fines, owning a vehicle, wheel clamping, traffic information.

Road Signs


Direction signs on all-purpose roads

Roads other than motorways are referred to as all-purpose roads. Those of national and regional importance are called primary routes:they always have "A" numbers. Direction signs on these roads have green backgrounds,yellow route numbers and white lettering. Primary routes, together with motorways, forma national network of roads between major towns (primary destinations).

All other roads, including local roads with "A"numbers, are called non-primary routes. Direction signs on these roads have white backgrounds, with black route numbers and lettering. Most road maps show primary routes in green and use other colours to distinguish between non-primary "A" roads, "B" roads and local unnumbered roads. Maps may also indicate primary destinations. The colour coding of these maps and the colours of the traffic signs may help you to plan your journey,using primary routes wherever possible.

Where a primary route has a junction with a non-primary route, a coloured panel on the advance direction sign is used to indicate a route of different status. Blue panels are used to indicate motorways , green panels indicate primary routes and white non-primary routes.

There are different types of sign that might be used on the approach to a junction. A "map-type" sign shows the junction layout and is commonly used for roundabouts, with a special symbol for mini-roundabouts. The width of each route symbol depends on the type of the road indicated: wide for primary routes and motorways, medium for "A" and "B" numbered non-primary routes and narrow for local roads without numbers.

A stack-type sign shows directions at a junction ahead, but not the road layout. It can often be smaller than the equivalent map-type sign and is used for simple junctions (e.g. a crossroads)and where there might not be space for a larger sign, especially in urban areas.

Examples of stack-type signs. Arrows indicate the direction of exits from the junction ahead; each is shown on a separate part of the sign. The ahead direction may not be shown for a junction with a minor side road

A sign that indicates the appropriate lanes to use for turning movements at a junction ahead is sometimes used in conjunction with, or instead of, a map-type or stack-type sign.

Route numbers in brackets are roads that will be reached by following the route indicated. Where a primary route is reached by following a non-primary route, its route number in brackets is shown on a small green patch. However,non-primary routes reached along primary routes are not indicated on white patches. "B1234" in the example is a non-primary route. Signs indicating a route to a motorway include a blue patch with the motorway number in brackets.

Signs located at a junction and pointing along a road have chevrons rather than arrows. They are called "flag-type" signs. Some signs may be rectangular with upward-pointing arrows. These are used where the road divides, such as at an exit slip road or a forked junction. The background colour of a flag-type sign is that appropriate for the route indicated;coloured panels are not used where a primary route has a junction with anon-primary route. However, flag-type signs may include route number patches. A rectangular sign at the junction may have coloured panels, but only if it indicates more than one route.

Some junctions on dual carriageway roads may be similar to those on motorways, where a slip road leaves the main carriageway via a deceleration lane or a lane drop. The first direction sign on the approach to the junction is usually located 1/2 mile in advance, although there may be an additional sign 1 mile before the junction. In some cases, these distances maybe reduced, normally to 1/3 mile and 2/3 mile respectively. Another sign will be located where the deceleration lane starts or just before the left-hand lane leaves the main carriageway as a lane drop. The signs may be mounted at the side of the road or overhead.

Where the junction ahead is between two primary routes, any non-primary route at the same junction is not shown on a white panel. Signs on the exit slip road will have green backgrounds The junction ahead is with a non-primary route only, with the destination shown in a white panel. The signs on the exit slip road will have white backgrounds This sign is located at the start of the deceleration lane. In addition to the side destination, the sign shows the ahead destinations

Overhead signs for junctions with deceleration lanes and slip roads, where the number of lanes through the junction remains the same

Signs for a junction where a lane leaves the main carriageway to become the exit slip road. Primary route signs have green backgrounds. Non-primary route signs have white backgrounds

Signs for tourist destinations

Symbols are often used to indicate the type of destination. These may be shown on road maps. Once the full name of a tourist destination and its symbol have been show non a sign, subsequent signs may show only the associated symbol. Examples of symbols are shown below.

Services signs

Blue-background signs indicating motorway service areas located on all-purpose roads. Services grouped together at a single location on primary and non-primary routes may be signed where parking, toilets, fuel and refreshments are available at least between 8 am and 8 PM on every day except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. Signs on non-primary routes have white backgrounds. Older signs on primary routes have green backgrounds, but are being replaced by white-background.

The services may have a geographical name. The "LPG" symbol means LPG fuel is available, the spoon and fork symbol denotes a restaurant and the bed symbol indicates overnight accommodation. The lorry symbol indicates that the services are for goods vehicles only. Where the symbol has a red bar, services are not available for goods vehicles

Alternative signs indicating the entrance to services. May be used to indicate the direction to services at a road junction

Where individual facilities are available in a small town or village off the main route, signs at the junction indicate the direction in which they are located. If tourist facilities are available, the signs have a brown background

Brown signs may indicate establishments that provide restaurant facilities, light refreshments or overnight accommodation.

Licensed camping and caravan sites, youth hostels managed by the Youth Hostels Association or Scottish Youth Hostels Association, picnic areas, viewpoints and parking places with tourist information may also be indicated by brown signs.

Parking signs

Direction signs indicating parking places, such as off-street car parks,have white backgrounds, even on primary routes. Where the parking destination is incorporated into a primary route sign with a green background, it is shown on a white panel

The signs may include various details about the parking places.

Signs may indicate the location of parking places associated with "Park and Ride" schemes. Where appropriate, the bus symbol is changed to another form of transport, e.g. tram, national railway or London Underground. The sign may include the name of the Park and Ride site or the place that it serves. It may also include the times of operation. Other direction signs may incorporate the blue "Park and Ride" panel.

Signs for drivers of goods vehicles

Routes recommended for goods vehicles have black signs with a white lorry symbol. Other direction signs may incorporate black lorry route panels. The most suitable route for lorries to a particular destination may be different from that for other vehicles. The lorry symbol faces in the direction in which vehicles turn at a junction. For ahead destinations, the symbol generally faces left. Where route numbers for motorways and primary routes are shown, these are placed on blue and green patches respectively.

Signs for traffic diversions

Where, in an emergency, it is necessary to close a section of motorway or other main road to traffic, a temporary sign may advise drivers to follow a diversion route. To help drivers navigate the route,black symbols on yellow patches maybe permanently displayed on existing direction signs, including motorway signs. On all-purpose roads,the symbols may be used on separate signs with yellow backgrounds.

Temporary diversion signs may be required when a road is closed for reasons other than an emergency, e.g. to carry out works.

Examples of other direction signs

Signs that indicate the appropriate traffic lanes for turning movements at a junction ahead may be used alone or in addition to map-type or stack-type advance direction signs. Signs on primary routes have green backgrounds, and signs on non-primary routes have white backgrounds

These signs show how traffic lanes on a slip road join the main carriageway of a dual carriageway road at junctions. Signs on primary routes have green backgrounds, and signs on non-primary route have white backgrounds

Privacy | Cookie Policy | Terms & Conditions | Contact Us | Google+        © 2019 UK Webwise.com Limited