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Understanding The Different Types of Signs

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The main functions of traffic signs are to provide regulations, warnings, and guidance information for anyone traveling the roads of Minnesota. Words, symbols, and arrows are usually used to convey the message.

Signs are broken into three major groups:

  1. Regulatory signs give notice of traffic laws or regulations.
  2. Warning signs give notice of a situation that might not be readily apparent.
  3. Guide signs show route designations, destinations, directions, distances, services, points of interest, and other geographical, recreational or cultural information.

The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) created by the United States Transportation Department further breaks down traffic signs into these 13 categories:

  1. Regulatory Signs, Barricades, and Gates
  2. Warning Signs and Object Markers
  3. Guide Signs for Conventional Roads
  4. Guide Signs for Freeways and Expressways
  5. Toll Road Signs
  6. Preferential and Managed Lane Signs
  7. General Information Signs
  8. General Service Signs
  9. Specific Service (Logo) Signs
  10. Tourist-Oriented Directional Signs
  11. Changeable Message Signs
  12. Recreational and Cultural Interest Area Signs
  13. Emergency Management Signs

deer crossing signWarning Signs

Warning signs feature a yellow background with black letter, usually in a diamond shape to caution drivers. One type of warning sign alerts drivers to a stop or traffic signal ahead. Some rural signs contain pictures of animals, for example warning drivers to be on the look out for deer. Railroad crossing is a perfect example of an important warning sign and also includes a big X in the middle.

speed limit sign 25 mphRegulatory Signs

Regulatory signs usually have a square shape, with black lettering on a white background. Their primary purpose is to establish rules on the road. Speed limit signs are probably one of the most common regulatory signs motorists pay attention too.

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guide sign "Bike Route: Downtown"

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Guide Signs

Guide signs usually have white writing on a green background and are in a rectangular shape. These signs are informative, letting drivers know what street they’re on or approaching. Examples of guide signs include highway exits, street signs and bike routes.

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stop signStop and Yield Signs

yield signStop signs are used to determine right-of-way at intersections, in the absence of a traffic light. They have a red background with white lettering and are always in an octagonal shape. Drivers must completely stop before proceeding. Yield signs feature a triangle shape with a red background. There is a white triangle in the middle of the sign with red lettering spelling “yield.” These signs caution drivers to give the right-of-way to other drivers at an intersection.

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construction sign "road work ahead"

Construction Signs

Construction signs usually have a bright orange background with black text in a diamond shape. These signs let drivers know when road crews are working ahead. Construction signs may also be put up during events to warn drivers of a short-term activity ahead, such as a festival or fair.

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highway marker sign

Marker Signs

On roads marker signs designate routes and highways, but they can actually be used for anything, such as a fire hydrant sign. Interstate marker signs feature a blue background with white lettering, topped by a red crown. State route marker signs typically have a black border with a white background. Sometimes the outline of the state is used.

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recreational sign swimming

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Recreational Signs

Recreational signs notify drivers of a permanent recreational activity ahead. This type of signage usually has brown or green back grounds with white lettering. Some examples of recreational activities can include golfing, swimming etc.

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service signs

Service Signs

Service signs are usually found on interstate highways, usually near exits. This type of road signage features a blue background with white lettering in a rectangular shape. These signs give drivers information on the availability of gas, food and lodging. Hospitals are also featured on service signs.

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