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Road Signs – Know the Basic Shapes

Basic shapes of road signs in United States - Driver's Prep

Nine Basic Shapes You Should Know

The basic shapes and colors of traffic signs are important.You should know signs by their appearances so when driving you can recognize them at a distance even when visibility is poor. If snow covers a sign, the shape can help you decide the most likely meaning of the sign.

In United States, road signs can have:

   10 different colors
   9 different shapes

Each shape and each color has an exact meaning. You should learn all of the shapes and colors for your DMV exam and for your future safety on the road.

In many states, you should expect one or two questions about shapes and colors on the knowledge test. Pay special attention to signs that have exclusive use, like the sign that warns of a railroad crossing ahead, the stop sign, and the yield sign.

Basic Shapes in United States
Octagon Basic shapes - octagon Exclusively for Stop
Triangle Basic shapes - triangle Exclusively for Yield
Circle Basic shapes - circle Exclusively for Grade Crossing Advance Warning
Pennant Basic shapes - pennant Exclusively used for No Passing
Pentagon Basic shapes - Pentagon Exclusively for School Advance Warning
Crossbuck Basic shapes - crossbuck Exclusively for Grade Crossing
Diamond Basic shapes - diamond Warning
Rectangle, square Basic shapes - rectangle Regulatory signs (often vertical)
Rectangle, square Basic shapes - rectangle Guide signs (often horizontal)
Rectangle, square Basic shapes - rectangle Some warning signs
Trapezoid Basic shapes - Trapezoid Recreational and Cultural Interest, National Forest Route

  Download the table

Route Signs

Route signs can also have different shapes.

The Interstate route sign is a cutout shield, with the route number in white letters on a blue background.

Basic shapes - Interstate Route Sign

U.S. routes are marked with black and white shields (the left sign below).

State route sign are often square, but designs are established locally and the state signs may have different shapes. Even if questions about route signs rarely show up on a DMV test, make sure you can tell them apart.

Know the basic shapes of road signs - U.S. route and State route

Other route signs mark County routes and National Forest routes.

Know the basic shapes of road signs - county route and national forest route

Check Your Knowledge

Question 1: The shape of a Do Not Enter sign is:

   A. Three-sided
   B. Five-sided
   C. Square
   D. Round

Question 2: A circular shaped sign means:

   A. Railroad crossing ahead
   B. Yield ahead
   C. Do not enter
   D. School or school crossing



Question 3: A five-sided road sign means:

   A. Work zone
   B. No passing zone
   C. Yield
   D. School zone

Question 4: A diamond-shaped road sign displays:

   A. A Warning
   B. A Regulation
   C. A Direction or distance
   D. A Duty to yield

Question 5: A pennant shaped sign marks:

   A. A School crossing
   B. A No-passing zone
   C. A Detour
   D. A Sharp curve

Correct Answers

Question 1: Correct answer is C. Square
Question 2: Correct answer is A. Railroad crossing ahead
Question 3: Correct answer is D. School zone
Question 4: Correct answer is A. A Warning
Question 5: Correct answer is B. A No-passing zone


Study for Your State’s DMV Test

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  1. regarding the Georgia Driver’s Test. Taking the test over and over does not teach me anything. How can I get the answers to study?

  2. November 22, 2016

    I’ve never been through so much hell, in my experience to pass the DMV test. First I was given a test as if I am a truck driver. Second test had a question “making a left turn on a solid Red light into the left lane.” I was shocked. I’m 77 years young, I have never seen where a driver could make a left turn on a Red light into a one-way street. I mean a solid Red light. If I’m wrong I need to see it for myself.
    This office in Diamond Bar CA, is trying their best to take my licence on account of a situation I have with the Walnut Sherriff CA station. The first test I failed the lady barely wanted me to see the questions I missed, holding them in her hand as if I were going to steal them. I was livid. They’re really trying to take my licence, on account of me taking the Walnut Sheriff station to court. Whereby
    They lied in court, when the Judge requested us to answer to our names.
    They called the name of I recall JOHN SALLEBY, the imposter identified himself as JOHN SALLEBY lied to the court in identifying himself as JOHN SALLEBY.
    Ldt SALLEBY had been to my house, the man imposter had not.
    I have a perfect driving record, they’re
    causing me to take the test on account of a simple TIA They saw on my report they asked for. I’m telling you this because I believe they’re wrong in how that office handled me. Almost refusing to let me see the questions I missed, except for the second test, not giving me real time to study.
    Because of them my life is turned upside down, and somebody needs to know….To whom it may concern….

    […Mailing Address removed…]


    • In response to the first part: In California, left turns against red can be made from a one-way street onto a one-way street. This rule applies in most states.

      Original comment was moderated and mailing address removed. It is not a good idea to post a personal mailing address.

  3. Marge Mathis November 3, 2016

    What’s a CHEVRON SIGN ???

  4. Denis Barongo. Maego July 3, 2016

    Thanks alot you are doing good work,l wish the whole world could follow your footsteps God’s children could be saved from careless drivers who get license being not qualified hence cause accident on roads killing innocent people.Otherwise am doing my best to see l pass exam anytime l come for interview.

  5. What color are the signs for motorist an pedestrians

  6. seems I need to find a book on signs! do not find in drivers license book

  7. wow seems like each year there are more sings to learn about this family has traveled from CA to Pa for the last 10 years great seeing our country

  8. Satta Jallah March 26, 2014

    I was to pass the payment test

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