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What does a Round Road Sign Mean?

Round shaped road sign in United States

Grade Crossing Advance Warning Signs

In United States there is only one round road sign. The shape is dedicated for Grade Crossing Advance Warning Signs.

Such signs are yellow (to indicate warning) with a black border and black lettering. By learning the color system on road signs this becomes simple to understand.

The lettering consists of RXR symbols, indicating a Rail-road Crossing.

In temporary work zones, you may also see orange railroad warning signs but, in general, the signs are yellow and looks like this:

w10-1 - Railgrade Crossing

Only One Sign has the Circular Shape

It is important to remember that United States has only ONE round sign.

In other countries the round shape is often used for regulatory signs, but not in United States.

You should also note that the “Do Not Enter” sign is not round .

It is a square-shaped regulatory sign with a round symbol (a red ball) and the text “Do Not Enter”.

R5-1 Do not enter

Where is the Grade Crossing Advance Warning Sign Placed?

The round warning sign is used on all low-volume roads in advance of every highway-rail grade crossing. You may, however, not see the sign in business or commercial areas where active grade crossing traffic control devices are in use or when you approach a T-intersection with railroad tracks close to the intersection.

When you see the sign beside the road, you should be prepared to adjust speed, look for trains, and stop ahead – if it is necessary.

The crossing itself is always marked with a cross buck sign. The cross-buck sign means yield. Trains must always be given the right-of-way!

In urban areas crossing are often controlled by traffic lights or stop signs. In rural areas, you are more likely to see a yield sign together with the cross buck. The yield sign has become more common at crossings in recent years to emphasize that you must yield!

You should under no circumstances try to beat a train at the crossing. A train moves faster than you think and cannot stop quickly.

Cross buck -

When you must stop at a railroad grade crossing, stop within 50 feet, but not less than 15 feet from the nearest rail.

If the crossing is controlled by both gates and lights, do not proceed until the red lights stop flashing and the gate rises completely. It is an offense to proceed across by driving around a lowered gate. This is true even if you don’t see a train coming or if you believe that the gates aren’t working. (Read More at NTHSA website)

If gates remain lowered, call the toll-free number posted on a blue sign at the crossing.

The blue railroad crossing information sign

What about the Diamond Shaped Crossing Signs?

Limited storage and Skewed Crossing

It is a good idea to understand when and why these two signs are used ahead of a railroad crossing.

The first one, a Storage Space sign, tells you that you are approaching a T-intersection. Before the intersection there is a grade crossing. There may be 100 feet or less between the tracks and the intersection.

Check the space between the tracks and the intersection!

You must not cross the tracks unless you are sure there is enough room on the other side of the tracks to stop before entering the T-intersection!

The second sign, a Skewed Crossing sign, tells you that tracks cross the highway at an angle. If you need to stop before or after the tracks, make sure there is enough room between your car and the tracks.

The signs supplement the circular warning sign, they do not replace it.

These three signs are examples of warnings signs that tell drivers making a turn that they will encounter a highway-rail grade crossing soon after making the turn.

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Warning signs in United States are yellow. This is also true about the round railroad crossing sign.

Warning signs used in temporary work zones are usually orange, which means you may see an orange advance warning sign in some situations.

There is only one circular sign in United States. It is the railroad crossing warning sign, or the Grade Crossing Advance Warning Sign as it is officially called.

A cross-buck sign marks a rail grade crossing. It has the same meaning as a Yield sign. You must always yield to an approaching train.

Diamond shaped railroad warning signs give you additional information about the location of railroad tracks. They may tell you that there are tracks close to an intersection ahead or that tracks cross the highway at an angle. Watch for tracks and/or trains when you make a turn or when you must stop before or after the tracks.


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