Tips for reading road signs

To keep your driving safe and legal, however, it’s not just important to see road signs but also interpret them as well and in good time.

While British road signs are something you’ll learn for your driving test, you might not know what each and every sign means by heart. It’s always good to brush up your knowledge on them from time to time. Understanding them can make your driving experiences a lot less stressful. Here are our top tips for reading road signs while driving.

To start with, look well ahead to see road signs, as the more time you give yourself to see them the better. They give information and guidance on hazards, road layouts and directions, don’t ignore them.

To clarify, there are three basic types of road signs – circular signs which give orders, triangular signs which provide warnings and rectangular signs which give information.

Blue circle signs give mandatory instructions or indicate routes for use only by particular vehicles. Red rings or circles on signs tell you what you must not do, for example exceed a certain speed limit outlined. Direction signs seen when driving on the motorway meanwhile are always shaped in blue rectangles.

There are very small number of exceptions to the general rules for shapes and colours for road signs. An example is the red ‘STOP’ sign which is shaped octagonal.

If you encounter multiple road signs on the same pole, you should read from top to bottom. The top sign will inform you as to what hazard will first be encountered.

Be careful where there are temporary signs, they are there for a specific reason. If you notice a sign that is misspelt, is misleading, overcrowded or hidden by dirt and foliage, report it to the council. The message has to be clear so that drivers can act on them immediately.

Read the road signs to double check your route. Even if you have a satellite navigation system in your car, don’t rely too heavily on it in case things have changed. Using the signs to anticipate what’s ahead allows you to adjust your position and/or speed, allowing you complete your journey in a quicker but also safer manner.

If a road sign ahead indicates you need to change your speed, don’t forget to check your mirrors to see if any other drivers are close behind you. Not all road signs necessarily require a change of speed in response – a good understanding of what each sign means should allow you to anticipate the likelihood of a change in your speed.

If you notice a sign too late, don’t make a last minute manoeuvre that could prove dangerous, such as a sharp turn, sudden braking or a u-turn. Instead drive on until you find a safe place to turn around.If you’re ever unsure about any road signs you’ve spotted during a journey, just five minutes spent with the Highway Code can make understanding them much clearer.