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Road Signage









Lesson 9

Part 4





In the State of Pennsylvania, potential drivers must first take a computer knowledge test before they are issued a permit to drive. This knowledge includes basic information regarding the laws of the roads, signs, markings, signals, etc. The reason students take this test prior to taking the permit test is so that students learn their responsibilities as drivers before they begin to drive.


Basic rules for driving in the United States and Canada.


    1. Always drive on the right side of a two-way street.
    2. Unless you are on a road with more than one lane going in the same direction, pass other vehicles on the left.
    3. You may only pass vehicles when it is clear and safe.
    4. You must always use signals to alert other drivers of your intent to pass or change lanes.
    5. Always drive a speeds that are safe and according to road conditions.


Right-of-Way Rules


When two drivers come to an intersection at the same time and wish to enter the same lane of traffic, the rules may change depending on the situation. Also, do not assume that everyone obeys the traffic laws. You may be involved in a collision even through you have obeyed the laws.


The basic right-of-way rules at intersections are:


    1. You must yield or give the right of way to a vehicle already in the intersection.
    2. If you have a stop sign, you must let any traffic without a stop sign to yield sign go first.
    3. If you and another driver arrive at an intersection at the same time, the driver on the left should let the driver on the right go first.
    4. A driver making a left must yield the right of way to oncoming traffic.
    5. Drivers must yield to pedestrians at all times, either in marked on unmarked crosswalks.
    6. Drivers must always yield to emergency vehicles such as police vehicles or ambulances if they have on their sirens.
    7. Drivers must always stop when school buses are stopped with their flashing red lights.
    8. Anyone at a railroad crossing must stop when either the gates or down or there are flashing red lights.


Special Right-of-Way Rules


Although there are special circumstances when there are written laws, drivers are expected to understand that they must yield to other vehicles. Examples are: funeral processions, in which the line of traffic goes through an intersection with a red light; police escorts, etc.


Speed Laws


The maximum speed limit in the State of Pennsylvania is 65 miles per hour. The posted speed limit is the maximum speed considered “safe” for the road and traffic conditions.


Absolute Speed Limits


The absolute speed limit is the fastest or maximum posted speed which you can legally drive under normal conditions. Some highways post maximum and minimum speed limits. These are usually on expressways so that the flow of traffic is moving smoothly. You can get a ticket for going too fast on these highways, but you can also get a ticket for going to slow, because sometimes drivers that go too slow also cause traffic accidents as everyone is trying to get around them.


Basic Speed Limit


The basic speed limit is not a posted limit. It is the speed that is safe for the driving or road conditions. Although the basic speed limit can change either higher or lower according to road conditions such as fog, ice, snow, rain, etc., it never exceeds the posted speed limit. You can receive a ticket for exceeding the basic speed limit, even though you are not going over the posted speed limit, because you are not driving safely for conditions.


Traffic Control


Signs, signals and pavement marking are of extreme importance in keeping the traffic flowing smoothly. You must pay attention to changing road situations, such as speed limit signs, constructions signs, etc.



Did you know?


Traffic Signs


In 1970, the National Joint Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, created a standard for road signs. You should be able to read road signs no matter where you drive in the United States.


The color and shape of a sign should help you to read the sign from far away. For example, construction signs are always orange and diamond-shaped. Stop signs are always octagon shaped and red.


Sign shapes


Sign colors


Regulatory Signs


These signs tell you what to do or what not to do. These signs have black or red markings on a white background. Signs with black markings are used for speed limits. These signs can also have pictures with a diagonal line through them letting you know what you cannot do.


Some regulatory signs have special shapes and colors such as a red and white yield sign or an “X” for a railroad crossing.


A red octagon sign is the stop sign. You must stop before the stop line, crosswalk, or stop before the stop sign. You may then proceed into traffic after checking all directions to make sure it is clear.


A yield sign that is red and white with the triangle pointing downward means you must slow down but not necessarily stop, and give the right of way to other drivers.


A wrong-way sign is a red, horizontal rectangle. You may not enter the road under any circumstances from the direction in which you see the wrong way sign.


A do-not-enter sign is a white square with a red circle in it and also means you may not enter the road from the direction in which you see the do not enter sign.


A one way sign is a rectangle that has a black background with a white arrow that lets you know you may enter this street only if you are going in the direction that the arrow is pointing.


Reglatory signs


Warning Signs


These signs let you know about possible dangers ahead. You should always be prepared to stop to slow down when you see one of these signs. They are yellow and black. They will advise you of warnings such as deer crossings, slippery road conditions when wet, etc.


Some warning signs are also yellow but have their own distinctive shapes such as school crossings, speed advisories or passing zones.

Construction signs are orange and diamond shaped. In the State of Pennsylvania, when you enter a construction zone, you must turn on your headlights. Also, exceeding the speed limit in these work zones, the fines are doubled if you receive a ticket.


Railroad crossing signs can be an “X”, round with an RR or just gates and flashing lights. Always stop before the stop lines or gates.


Warning Signs


Guide Signs


These signs help you with direction, location, hospitals in the area, etc. These signs can let you know that you are going in the right direction and how many miles a city is from you, etc. They let you know of rest areas on a highway, the direction of a sports complex, etc.


Route markers are essential when planning a trip. They let you know what highway number you are on and when you see signs that say “junction” with a number on it, you know that that highway number is coming up ahead.


Guide Signs


Traffic Signals / Traffic Lights


Traffic lights in an intersection may be any number of places, come in the shape of an arrow, or be held cross-ways. The basic premise is always the same. Red means stop and is always at the top of the light, yellow means caution or slow down, and green means go. A green light does not always mean that the path you are traveling is clear. Always scan the area ahead of you to make sure other drivers have stopped at red lights, etc. Again, you may be obeying the traffic laws, but to avoid an accident, always watch to make sure others are also obeying the laws.


Some intersections will have green arrows in addition to the solid green light. These mean that you may cross traffic or turn right (whichever direction the arrow is pointing) but always do so with caution. The left turn arrow means that the traffic coming in your direction has a red light and must wait to proceed until your green arrow turns red. Again, always proceed with caution through these intersections.


Pavement Markings


Pavement markings are the white and yellow markings that warn drivers of changing traffic patterns. They are painted directly on the roads.


No-Passing Lines


If there is a solid yellow line running down the middle of the road, you may not pass. You may only cross that solid yellow line when making a turn. A double yellow line means that drivers on either side of the road may not cross. Broken white lines on a roadway mean you may pass if clear. Some roadways will have a broken white line on one side and a solid yellow line on the other. This means that the drivers with the broken white lines may pass if clear, while the drivers with the solid yellow lines may not pass.


Some roadways have center turn lanes. They usually have solid yellow lines on the outside of the lane followed by broken yellow lines on the inside of the lane. These mean that you may only enter that lane if you wish to make a left-hand turn, when it is clear.


Stop and Crosswalk Lines


Stop lines are wide solid white strips. They are only used when there is a stop sign or stoplight, and can be used before a pedestrian crosswalk. You must always stop before the crosswalk line.


Railroad Crossing Lines


Sometimes approaching a railroad track, the pavement will have either an RR or a large X painted on the road. This lets the driver know of an approaching railroad crossing and you may be required to stop before the stop line before the railroad tracks.



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