What do Diamond Shaped Signs Mean?

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Diamond Shaped Signs

The diamond shaped traffic sign is almost as common as a traffic stop sign. Its unique shape and typically yellow background makes it stand out right away on any road, day, or night. However, in practice the diamond traffic sign is a generic shape that can include over 16 different actual signs ranging from intersections to oncoming traffic lights to low shoulder warnings. Some are symbols and others are actual words. So while they all have the commonality of the sign shape and yellow background, each one can have a very different meaning for drivers on the road.

Colors Means Everything

Traffic signs are very planned out with a lot of recognition science behind them. They also follow national plans and directions for uniformity. This allows a driver from Oregon to travel through Nevada, Texas and Illinois and basically be able to understand traffic signage without having to pull over and reference a Frommer’s travel traffic manual or similar after entering a new state. 

The colors for signage generally follow basic categorical rules. Red is clear in that it is reserved for sudden stops or very clear danger. Yield signs, for example, can be a red, upside down triangle with a white background, which gets people to slow down as they do not know whether to stop or just watch out. Blue is typically tourism information but green can be used for the same as well. Brown is clearly a major attraction or park nearby, and yellow is the color for caution signs that include a variety of different messages, as mentioned above. 

Sign shapes are also unique to their categories as well. Stop signs are always an octagon. The same cannot be said for stop signs in other countries, but in the U.S. they are uniform. Informational direction signs, whether brown or green or blue tend to be horizontal rectangular. On the other hand, route signs and speed limit signs are vertical pointed rectangular. Railroad crossing signs have been crossed or X’s for years, and then there are general caution message signs with yellow diamonds. The only other diamond shaped sign is the orange SLOW FOR CONSTRUCTION signs used by crews when performing road repair. 

How do we remember all of these differences as drivers? It starts very early with driver’s education. All that book and driver’s manual memorization provides the start. Then testing and practice take over. Within a year, most drivers are pretty good at generally interpreting different signs and their overall meanings even if few can actually remember a distinct sign in a distinct location. 

The Variety of Diamond-Shaped Warnings

There is no set limit on what can be on a diamond-shaped warning sign. However, uniformity promoted by national standards try to corral states and localities to follow the same norms and, as new signs are needed, agree to the same wording and symbology. As a result, while there are a variety of yellow diamond warning signs, most people have a pretty good idea what they mean driving. The more common ones include:

  • Deer Jumping – this is the classic warning sign for potential road crossings by large animals. Some have morphed into the shape of moose, as they represent a bigger risk in places like Alaska for example, but the deer jumping sign is a catch-all for all large animal risks.
  • Intersections Cross – A uniform size cross on a yellow background has always been understood to mean an upcoming road intersection and cross traffic.
  • School Zone – The school zone sign has been seen in two forms. One is simply spelled out, SCHOOL ZONE, and the other is a school bus symbol. Both warn drivers to slow down and watch out for children pedestrians in the immediate area.
  • A Dead End – The Dead-End sign is literally that, the end of the road is coming up 300 feet.
  • Lanes Merging – When highways or multi-lane roads need to shrink in size, usually when going through mountains, the number of lanes thin out to two or one. Drivers are warned with this sign to slow down and merge effectively before the lanes shrink.
  • Winding Road – This sign is symbolized with a road twisting back and forth like an ‘S’ or a snake. It essentially means lots of curves ahead.
  • Low Shoulder or Drop Off – This diamond sign comes in two forms, a symbol of a car falling off an edge or the words LOW SHOULDER. Both mean driving on the edge of the road is a risk and to be avoided.
  • Rocks Falling – Common in mountain areas, it warns drivers to watch out for big stray rocks or avalanche risk on the road ahead.

Need Replacements or New Signs?

Every jurisdiction where there is a road network or highway needs regular maintenance and support of traffic signage. WorkSafe Traffic Industries can provide quality signage for all the above items and far more that are durable, corrosion-resistant, long-lasting, and highly reflective for night driving as well. Safety is paramount on the road, and traffic signs are instrumental in warning driving what they need to know about roads in your area. Give us a call or email to find out what we can do for your jurisdiction, and we can show you the benefits of our inventory, production process and support. We stock all the major diamond traffic signs and plenty of other critical signage as well.