The D.E.P. Academy Driver Education Course


Chapter 4 Signs, Signals, And Road Markings 

Recognizing Traffic Control Signals

  • Good drivers understand the role of communication.  The signs, signals and road markings you see on the roadway are a vital means of communication. 
  • It is important that you understand the messages that they communicate.

Purpose Of Traffic Controls               

  • Highways and streets would be difficult to use without signs that give drivers information and warnings, and tell them what to do and what not to do. 
  • If there were no signs, how would you know you were on the right road?  Imagine how difficult it would be to manage risk if there were no speed limits or rules  regulating when or where to yield. 
  • Roadway signs provide important information about where you are, where you are going, and what rules or laws to follow.


  •    Regulatory signs regulate, or control the movement of traffic.  These signs tell you and other drivers what you must do and what you must not do when you drive. 
  • Regulatory signs are red, white, black, green on white, or white on black. 
  • Most regulatory signs have square, vertical rectangular, or horizontal rectangular shapes. 
  • A red circle with a red slash on any of the signs means NO. 
  • You can recognize regulatory signs by their color and shape.
  •    Warning signs alert you to changes in the condition, or use, of the road ahead.  Warning signs include those that tell you about road construction and maintenance, school zones and crossings, railroad crossings, curves, intersections, changes in road width, and deer crossings.  All warning signs are either yellow or orange with black symbols or letters, and most are diamond shaped.
  •    Information signs do more than just warn you and tell you what you can and cannot do.  These signs provide information about where you are, where you are going, how to get there, and what services and sites are available.  As you drive, you will see signs that convey information through colors, shapes, and symbols instead of words.
  •    Guidance:  As you travel along the roadways, you'll see four kinds of guide signs.  A guide sign gives information about roadways and routes, the mileage to certain destinations, roadside services (such as rest stops, service stations, campsites, and recreational areas) and nearby points of interest.

Traffic Control Signals And Lights 

  • Traffic control signals keeps traffic moving in an orderly manner. 
  • Most signals operate automatically, using a timer system to change the lights through the green-yellow-red sequence. 
  • In many large cities signals are linked electronically to, and are controlled by, a computer.  This sets up a grid that allows traffic to move smoothly and adjust to changes in traffic volume.
  • Traffic signals are usually located at intersections where the level of risk increases.  Special-use signals may operate during specific hours at school zones, fire stations, or factories. 
  • Traffic signals may be vertical or horizontal, and may have one or more separate lenses that give information to roadway users.  The most common lenses are red, yellow and green circles.
  • Arrows
  • The color of the arrow tells you what you can and can not do. 
  • A red arrow means "stop" every time, until the solid green traffic signal or green arrow appears.  You may not make a turn against a red arrow. 
  • A yellow arrow means that your "protected" turning time will be ending soon.  Be ready to obey the next signal which could be green or red. 
  • A green arrow means that you may proceed, but you must yield to any pedestrian, bicyclist or vehicle still in the intersection.  A green arrow pointing right or left allows you to make a "protected" turn.  This means that oncoming vehicles are stopped by a red light as long as the green arrow is lit.
  • Flashing Signals  At flashing signals you must either stop or slow down, depending on the color of the light.  If you see a flashing red signal, this means that you must come to a full stop, just as you would at a stop sign.  You must slow down at a flashing yellow signal.
  • Lane Signals   On heavily traveled multiple-lane roadways, you may see lane-use signal lights mounted above the roadway.  It is important for you to know what to do in response to these signals because they are used when lane traffic is reversed during rush hours.  Lane use signal lights indicate which lanes you can use at any given time.

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