RULES OF THE ROAD
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.
- Always drive on the right side of a two-way street.
- Unless you are on a road with more than one lane going in
the same direction, pass other vehicles on the left.
- You may only pass vehicles when it is clear and safe.
- You must always use signals to alert other drivers of your
intent to pass or change lanes.
- Always drive a speeds that are safe and according to road
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 basic right-of-way rules at intersections are:
- You must yield or give the right of way to a vehicle already
in the intersection.
- If you have a stop sign, you must let any traffic without
a stop sign to yield sign go first.
- 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.
- A driver making a left must yield the right of way to oncoming
- Drivers must yield to pedestrians at all times, either in
marked on unmarked crosswalks.
- Drivers must always yield to emergency vehicles such as police
vehicles or ambulances if they have on their sirens.
- Drivers must always stop when school buses are stopped with
their flashing red lights.
- 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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
Pavement markings are the white and yellow markings that warn
drivers of changing traffic patterns. They are painted directly
on the roads.
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.