Getting to know more about traffic signs on our roads




Traffic is a contextual word which is a measure of volume. Channeled to transportation, traffic refers to the movement on various means of transportation. Traffic on roads consists of road users including vehicles, pedestrians, ridden and herded animals, street cars, buses and other conveyance. With the evolution of the industrial age coupled with the rapid urbanization in the developed, developing and underdeveloped countries, the need to coordinate and regulate road users to ensure orderliness on public roads is required. In this, traffic signs were devised to control the actions of road users on public roads. 

Traffic signs tell about traffic regulations, special hazards and other road conditions, construction areas speed limits, etc. It is necessary not only to be familiar with each of the signs but also to recognize the special shapes and colours. There are several categories of road signs ranging from the warning sign, regulatory sign, informative signs, all of which have peculiar symbols notation. Traffic signs come in many different shapes and colors, and keeping track of each color can be difficult. But studying your traffic signs and knowing what each type of road sign means could be the difference between reaching your destination safely or not. Below are some tips to improve your knowledge of traffic sign colors:


Black and White: Posted regulations (i.e., speed limits) are seen on black and white road signs. Regulatory signs tell you what you can and can’t do on the road. Some signs show maximum and minimum speed limits for all types of vehicles on freeways and limited access highways. In construction and maintenance zones, posted speeds legally reduce the speed limit on that portion of the highway. Unless necessary for safety, driving slower than the minimum is illegal.

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Yellow: Yellow signifies WARNING. Yellow traffic signs stand for slowing down, driving with caution, or a general warning. It may be yellow, or yellow-green with black wording or symbols. This sign warns you about hazards or possible hazards on or near the roadway.

Green: This color is used for guide signs. These signs tell you where you are, which way to go and the distance.

Blue: This color is also used for guide signs. These signs tell you about services along the roadway such as rest areas, hospitals, gas stations, and lodging.

Orange: You’ll see orange traffic signs anywhere there’s construction occurring. This color is used to alert you to possible dangers ahead due to construction and maintenance projects.  Reduce your speed and scan for workers who may be directing traffic.

Brown: This color is used for parks and recreation signs.



Note that the above colours and shapes a specification is based on general concept. Narrowing it down to Nigeria, according to the Nigeria Highway Code, section b which addresses road signs, signals, and markings, three major categories of traffic signs was outlined:

* Regulatory signs are mostly circular in shape and are of two types. Those with red & yellow circles are prohibitive signs. Those with blue circles but no red border are mandatory signs. They give positive instructions, and are regulatory signs. A vivid example is the stop sign which is a prohibitive sign. It is the only and sided traffic sign. It means come to a complete stop before entering. Proceed when it is safe to do so.

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* Informative signs are usually rectangular in shape and provide guidance information. 

* Warning Signs are usually triangular in shape, with red perimeter. The only one warning sign with inverted triangle means YIELD or GIVE Way.

Though different in the message they convey, all traffic signs serve an important and unified purpose, to keep all drivers safe. Each color signifies a different action or reference, but each one is important in its own right.



Advantages of Traffic signs

Traffic signs help in controlling pedestrian and vehicle traffic by means of assigning the priorities to some traffic movements to stimulate the flow of traffic. A properly designed, maintained, and located traffic signs may have one or more of the following advantages:

  Pre informing about the correct lanes to be taken thus avoiding bottlenecks caused by abrupt turns

  Mentioning entry and exit points on main roads

  Informing about the speed limit on curves and other sensitive junctions avoiding mishaps

  Segregating heavy, medium and light vehicles on narrow roads and bridges

  Promoting road discipline by reminding about regulations on lane discipline and overtaking

  Traffic signs notify motorists of regulations, provide warning to potential hazards on or near the roadway, and provide needed guidance to destinations.




Disadvantages of Traffic signs

Of course, as with everything, there are disadvantages too. Furthermore, an unwarranted sign can also adversely affect the safety and the efficiency of the traffic. Some of these disadvantages are:

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 They are designed in such a way that they can be easily ignored by road users.

  Drivers may not choose to change their speed in response to the signs

  Can be unsightly in conservation areas, and can ‘urbanize’ villages

  The signs will add to sign clutter

  If the signs are used too frequently, they can lose their effectiveness.






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