Road signs: What the shapes and colors mean

Posted: 9:23 AM, Feb 16, 2018
Updated: 2018-02-16 18:54:17Z
Road signs: What the shapes and colors mean

If you've ever wondered why stop signs have eight sides - this is your lucky day.

It turns out the more sides a road sign has, the greater the danger if you don't obey the sign.

Ken Roberts, Public Information Officer with the TxDOT Waco District says the way signs got their shape goes back to the beginning of the 20th century when the automobile started replacing horses as the main way of traveling.

"It was one of the things that it was determined there needed to be some signs to assist the traveling public at that time to get around safely," Roberts said. 

He added the Federal Highway Administration Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices cited railroad crossings were the biggest potential hazard at that time.

"In about 1935 or so, some of the old transportation pioneers determined that there needed to be specific shapes to alert individuals to possible pending situations where they needed to be a little more cautious, so they developed signs that based on shapes that warn you of what to expect," Roberts said.

He also stressed the color of road signs have uniform meanings. 

Red, yellow and green are pretty self-explanatory, but that blue denotes services, while brown signs show area attractions.  Roberts also said road sign shapes and colors are uniform nationwide, and that it's all in the name of safety.

"We want people to be situationally aware of what's taking place around them", he said. "Shapes, colors, all of those things. It's about safety. And, that's what we're looking for," he said.  

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