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Decoding Traffic Signs: What does their color mean?

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traffic signs - decoding traffic signs

Decoding Traffic Signs: What does their color mean?

If you’re behind the wheel, you’ve taken a driving test; there’s no doubt about that. The question, however, is whether you really know what you’re looking at when it comes to road signs beyond the simple “red means stop”. Here’s a quick refresher on the colors of road signs and what they mean .



Used to indicate immediate action. Stop signs, border for yield signs, DO NOT ENTER, and WRONG WAY signs.


Used to indicate an incident management area.


Temporary traffic control. These are frequently seen in construction zones, at special events, to indicate detours, or at areas where a major accident has occurred.


Used as a background for warning signs and school signs


Used as a background for pedestrian and bicycle traffic direction.


Used for guide and information signs or regulation and parking signs.


Indicates traveler services, emergency evacuation routes, or important information. Also used as part of state route and interstate markers.


A background color for signs indicating information related to points of cultural interest or recreational activities. Some of the most frequent places of use are at national or state parks and historical markers.


This is one of the most common colors, along with white, to be used for text. As far as backgrounds go black is used to indicate one way streets, night speed limit, or truck regulations.


Another common color for text on traffic signs. White is also used as a background for the majority of regulation signs.

For more information of color specifications, click here to visit the US Department of Transportation’s official Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).