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 and their meanings
Why know your traffic signs?Traffic signs play a vital role in directing, informing and controlling road users' behaviour in an effort to make the roads as safe as possible for everyone. This makes a knowledge of traffic signs essential. Not just for new drivers or riders needing to pass their theory test, but for all road users, including experienced professional drivers.
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Responsibility for traffic signsResponsibility for the road network in the UK is split among:
the Welsh Assembly Government in Wales
the Scottish Executive in Scotland
and local or regional highway authorities.
Local or regional highway authorities are responsible for local roads, and this includes a few motorways, all other A roads and all other public roads. While responsibility for placing, erecting and maintaining traffic signs is split among these bodies, it is important that signs are consistent both in appearance and in the way they are used.
To ensure that the UK has a uniform traffic signing system, signs must conform to the designs prescribed in the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions (although some signs may have been specially authorised by the Secretary of State). The Traffic Signs Manual, published by TSO, provides detailed guidance for those responsible for designing and installing traffic signs.
There are three basic types of traffic sign: signs that give orders,signs that warn and signs that give information. Each type has adifferent shape. A further guide to the function of a sign is itscolour. All triangular signs are red.
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|Blue circles generally give a mandatory instruction, such as "turn left", or indicate a route available only to particular classes of traffic, e.g. buses and cycles only|
Red rings or circles tell you what you must not do, e.g. you must not exceed 30 mph, no vehicles over the height shown may proceed
|Blue rectangles are used for information signs except on motorways where blue is used for direction signs||Green rectangles are used for direction signs on primary routes|
|White used for direction signs on non-primary routes, or for plates used in combination with warning and regulatory signs|
|There are a few exceptions to the shape and colour rules, to give certain signs greater prominence. Examples are the "STOP" and "GIVE WAY" signs|
The words "must" or "must not", when used in the descriptions that follow, refer to legal requirements that have to be obeyed.
The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002