How Well Do You Know Your Traffic Signs?

You might think you know your traffic signs pretty well, but are you actually aware of the meanings of all the different shapes and colours of signs? 

Glendining Signs has provided a guide to the most common types of road traffic signs that you are likely to encounter. With our own range of traffic signs for roads, motorways, construction sites and schools, we can help you understand what you need.

Traffic Sign Shapes

Road traffic signs come in three key shapes: triangle, circle, and rectangle. Find out the purpose of each shape below:


Purpose: To provide warnings of upcoming hazards or changes in traffic flow.

Triangle signs can be used to alert drivers to a variety of hazards, such as bends in the road, hidden turnings, vehicle height restrictions, pedestrians, and more.


Purpose: To give orders or instruct drivers on what they are legally required to do or not do.

Amongst other purposes, circle signs are generally used for setting maximum speed limits, prohibiting entry to certain areas, and specifying the direction motorists must travel.


Purpose: To provide drivers with information on what is coming up on the road ahead.

When you need to create a diversion, rectangle signs are normally used. They are often seen on motorways to indicate upcoming junctions, and on main roads providing directions to nearby locations.

Although most regulatory signs are circular, there are a couple of exceptions. The ‘Stop’ sign is uniquely shaped as an octagon to capture your attention. This exact sign is used in other European countries to ensure that the required action to ‘stop’ is universally understood. The ‘Give Way’ sign is another exception to the rule, as it is triangular but instructs a mandatory action. 

Traffic Sign Colours

With a variety of coloured traffic signs available, it can get confusing. Here, we explain what the different colours mean:


Purpose: To instruct a mandatory action (circular) or to provide directions (rectangular).

Circular blue signs generally direct you to proceed, keep or turn left or right, or they may indicate a cycle route or mini roundabout. On the other hand, rectangular blue signs are frequently seen on the motorway, displaying directions, or showing the location of the next exit.


Purpose: To warn of an upcoming hazard (triangular) or to prohibit or instruct you to not do something (circular).

There are many different triangular red signs, from warning of narrow roads, bends, crossroads, and road humps, to pedestrians, children, and zebra crossings. Some examples of circular red signs you might see include: no entry, speed limit, no left turn, and cycling prohibited.


Purpose: To provide instructions and information regarding roadworks.

Many roadworks signs are yellow to ensure they are highly noticeable, providing directions for diversions and instructions about lane closures on dual carriageways or motorways.


Purpose: To provide information or clarification on directions on local routes.

Sometimes, white signs will be used in conjunction with other signs (circular or triangular) to give more information about the warning or regulation. They are also used to provide directions to general locations, as well as parking.

In addition to this, there are green signs, which give directions on primary routes, and brown signs, providing information or directions to tourist attractions. The exception to the rule for white signs is the National Speed Limit sign, which is white with a distinctive black diagonal line through it, ensuring it is instantly recognisable.

Contact us for Custom Road Signs 

Alongside our standard range of road traffic signs, we offer a selection of custom roadworks signs in a variety of shapes, colours, and sizes. Browse our full range of traffic signs or get in touch with the friendly team at Glendining Signs to discuss custom options.

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