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California Driver Handbook - Traffic Controls


California Driver Handbook - Traffic Controls

Pedestrian Signal Lights

Pedestrian traffic signal lights show words or pictures similar to the following examples:

Image of Walk Sign

"Walk" or "Walking Person" pedestrian traffic signal light means it is legal to cross the street.

image of do not walk signal

"Don't Walk" or "Raised Hand" ” pedestrian traffic signal light means you may not start crossing the street.

Flashing "Don't Walk" or Flashing "Raised Hand" traffic signal light means do not start crossing the street because the traffic signal light is about to change. If a pedestrian begins crossing the street after the traffic signal light starts flashing, wait until the pedestrian(s) has crossed the street before proceeding.

Pedestrian traffic signal lights may also show numbers to indicate how many seconds remain for crossing. These pedestrian traffic signal lights allow pedestrians the flexibility to speed up if the crossing phase is about to expire.

Pedestrian Phases (also called Pedestrian Scrambles) are a series of crisscross, diagonal crosswalks that allow pedestrians to cross in any direction at the same time, including diagonally across the intersection. These signals stop all vehicle traffic during the scramble phase. Some pedestrian traffic signal lights may provide a beeping or chirping sound or a verbal message. These traffic signal lights are designed to help blind or visually impaired pedestrians cross the street.

At many traffic signal lights, you need to push the pedestrian push button to activate the “Walk” or “Walking Person” pedestrian traffic signal light. If there are no pedestrian signals, obey the vehicle traffic signal lights.

Traffic Signs

The shape and color of a sign offers you a clue about the information contained on the sign. Here are the common shapes used:

image of stop sign

An 8-sided red STOP sign indicates that you must make a full “STOP” whenever you see this sign. Stop at the white limit line (a wide white line painted on the street) or before entering the crosswalk. If a limit line or crosswalk is not painted on the street, stop before entering the intersection. Check traffic in all directions before proceeding.

image of a yield sign

A 3-sided red YIELD sign indicates that you must slow down and be ready to stop, if necessary, to let any vehicle, bicyclist, or pedestrian pass before you proceed.

image of do not enter sign

A square red and white regulatory sign indicates that you must follow the sign’s instruction. For example, the DO NOT ENTER sign means do not enter a road or off ramp where the sign is posted (usually on a freeway off ramp).

image of Wrong Way sign

The WRONG WAY sign may or may not be posted with the DO NOT ENTER sign. If you see one or both of these signs, drive to the side of the road and stop. You are going against traffic. When safe, back out or turn around and return to the road you were on. At night if you are going the wrong way, the road reflectors will shine red in your headlights.

image of no u turn sign

A sign that has a red circle with a red line through it always indicates “NO.” The picture inside the circle shows what you cannot do. The sign may be shown with or without words.

image of railroad crossing sign

A yellow and black circular sign or an x-shaped sign indicates that you are approaching a railroad crossing. You must look, listen, slow down, and prepare to stop, if necessary. Let any trains pass before you proceed.

image of blue railraod sign with emergancy information

Many railroad crossings will also have a blue and white sign to indicate what to do if there is an emergency on or near the tracks, or if your vehicle has stalled on the tracks.

image of crosswalk sign

A 5-sided sign indicates that you are near a school. Stop if children are in the crosswalk.

A 4-sided diamond-shaped sign warns you of specific road conditions and dangers ahead. Many warning signs are diamond-shaped.

image of various traffic signs

image of various traffic warning signs

A white rectangular sign indicates that you must obey important rules.

Some warning signs have a fluorescent yellow-green background. These signs warn of conditions related to pedestrians, bicyclists, schools, play- grounds, school buses, and school passenger loading zones. Obey all warning signs regardless of their shape or color (See above for examples of traffic signs).


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