Why Are Street Signs Different Colors?

Different Street Sign Colors and What They Mean

If you pay attention to street signs, you’ll notice that they can be found in a variety of different colors. Different colors are utilized for different kinds of street signs because, well, they mean different things. Knowing the difference between street sign colors helps increase your overall knowledge of the road, but it can also help you more easily identify different kinds of street signs.

To make this as easy as possible, we’ll lay out all of the colors that you’ll find on street signs along with the regulations associated with each as well as what kind of signs you might find each color on. This information can be found in the Federal Highway Administration Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).

What Do Black and White Street Signs Mean?

25 MPH Sign

If you see a black and white street sign, that means it's a regulatory sign. These signs are also typically shaped like a rectangle or square, which are also reserved for regulatory signs. Some common examples of regulatory signs include:

What Does a Blue Street Sign Mean?

Hurricane Evacuation Sign

If you see a blue street sign, it's usually a road user service sign and will be shaped like a square or rectangle. Blue is also used for is used for interstate and county route signs.

  • Gas stations
  • Handicap accessible facility
  • Tent camping
  • Emergency medical services

What Do Brown Street Signs Mean?

Brown street signs are for signs that mark points of cultural and recreational significance, and for forest route signs.

  • Swimming area
  • Picnic area
  • Fishing pier
  • Historic buildings
  • State park

What Does a Fluorescent Yellow-Green Street Sign Mean?

Fluorescent yellow-green is reserved for pedestrian warning, bicycle warning, and school warning signs.

What Does a Fluorescent Pink Street Sign Mean?

Fluorescent pink is only used for incident management signs, so if you see one, you'll know exactly what you're looking at. Some common incident management signs are:

What Does a Green Street Sign Mean?

Street Name Signs

Green street signs provide directional guidance and can help drivers with navigating to streets, points of interest and more. Some common examples of green road signs include:

  • Street name
  • Mile marker
  • Destination distance
  • Interchange exit

What Does an Orange Street Sign Mean?

Utility Work Ahead Sign

Orange street signs are similar to fluorescent pink signs, except they are used for planned temporary events such as utility work and construction zones and fluorescent pink signs are used for unexpected events such as fires and car accidents. Some common orange street signs include:

What Does a Purple Street Sign Mean?

Purple is used exclusively for street signs that restrict lanes to use by vehicles with registered electronic toll collection (ETC) accounts such as:

  • GeauxPass
  • E-ZPass
  • NC Quick Pass

What Does a Red Street Sign Mean?

Yield Sign

Red is almost exclusively used for prohibitive signs but can also be found on interstate route signs. Some common examples of red street signs are:

What Does a Yellow Street Sign Mean?

Stop Ahead Signs

Yellow is used for warning signs and alert drivers to road hazards, changes, and unexpected conditions. The key distinction between yellow street signs and fluorescent pink or orange signs is that yellow signs are for permanent warnings, not temporary warnings. Some common examples of yellow street signs include:

Color is an important part of the anatomy of a street sign, and you can tell a lot about the meaning of a sign just by looking at its colors. In some cases, the color of a street sign might be more important than the actual message on the sign. For example, if you were to see a red sign near the end of a roadway before an intersection, you know that it's likely either a stop sign or a yield sign without even reading the sign or noticing the shape. This is why it's so important that colors are used appropriately on street signs.

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