If you’re new to driving on the motorway you might be somewhat apprehensive about driving on it. You might also be somewhat overwhelmed about the sheer number of signs that you’ll pass. However, you should not be concerned. The signs you’ll see on the motorway are there to guide you and tell you how you should act on the road.
Let’s take a look at some of the more common signs you’ll see on the motorway:
White lettering, blue background
Most signs that you’ll see on the motorway will have white lettering and a blue background. The borders and the numbers will also be white. They will typically tell you:
- When the motorway starts
- The number of the junction you’re approaching
Blue direction signs can also indicate what is known as an “all purpose road”. A road such as this refers to a road that joins a motorway; in other words, this is the road you’ll use to build up speed to join fast-moving traffic on the motorway.
Black symbols, yellow background
These symbols are typically seen when you are diverted onto another road. The symbols can be a square, triangle, diamond or a circle. Vehicles are usually diverted because there has been an accident or work is being carried out on the road. The signs you should follow will all have the same symbols on them to show which route you should take.
Black directions, white background
Signs with black directions and a white background will show you which route you’ll need to take. These signs will typically display the outline of a roundabout. Above or below one of the turnings you will see the name of a town or city. Next to the name of the area, you will see the number of the road. If you notice capital letters on a sign such as this the letters will indicate a regional destination such as ‘The NORTH’.
Black and white lettering, green background
A sign such as this will show the number of the motorway in brackets. This number will be on a blue background. However, the motorway symbol will not be there. This is because the number is showing you which route you need to take to reach the motorway. You cannot access the motorway from the junction.
Junction Signs – white lettering, blue background
As you approach a junction you will see direction signs. These signs are typically displayed one mile and ½ a mile before the junction. They will also be displayed at the exit point. If there are a few junctions close together the signs will be displayed to 2/3 mile and 1/3 mile. You might see these signs overhead or on the side of the road.
Countdown markers – white lettering, blue background
Countdown markers are usually found before you need to reduce your speed. The first marker will show 3 diagonal lines. The second marker will show 2 diagonal lines and the third marker will show 1 diagonal line. Each bar represents approximately 100 yards (91 metres).
Overhead Signs – white lettering, blue background
These signs are typically used before a junction and at the junction itself. They display the name of the road and the name of the destination. They might also have a junction number in white with a black background. The numbers next to the junction number show you how far away the junction is. For example ½ m.
Direction Signs – white lettering, blue background
These signs show you where the route drivers of goods vehicles should take.
Variable signs along with motorway signals usually advise if there are abnormal traffic conditions. These signs might be mounted over individual signs. When the speed limit is shown and it has a red ring around it this means the speed is mandatory. Speed limits that are not enclosed within a red ring are advisory.
You might also see some red lamps flashing from side to side. These lamps are digital and flash above the road. There’s usually an ‘X’ in the centre of the sign which means you should not proceed in the lane that’s directly below. In other words, the lane is closed.
Some variable signs display the speed limit per lane or there might be an arrow that shows you which lane you should move into.
While you might be overwhelmed by the sheer number of signs on the motorway they are there to keep you safe. Follow the sign’s instructions and you’re much more likely to reach your destination safely and on time.