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.
There are ten colors and nine basic shapes of traffic signs. Each shape and each color has an exact meaning. You should learn all of them for your DMV examination.
In some 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.
Octagon: Exclusively used for Stop.
Equilateral Triangle (One point down): Exclusively used for Yield.
Circle: Exclusively used for Grade Crossing Advance Warning.
Pennant Shape (Isosceles Triangle): Exclusively used for No Passing.
Pentagon (pointed up): Exclusively used for School Advance Warning Sign.
Crossbuck (two rectangles in an X configuration): Exclusively used for Grade Crossing.
Diamond: Warning signs.
Rectangle (including square): Used for Regulatory signs (often vertical), Guide signs (often horizontal), and Warning signs.
Trapezoid: Used for Recreational and Cultural Interest Area signs, and National Forest 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.
State route sign are often square, but designs are established locally and may have different shapes.
Check Your Knowledge
Q: The shape of a do not enter sign is:
Q: A circular shaped sign means:
A. Railroad crossing ahead
B. Yield ahead
C. Do not enter
D. School or school crossing
Q: A five-sided road sign means:
A. Work zone
B. No passing zone
D. School zone
Test your general knowledge of U.S. road signs at quiz-a-go-go.