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