Driving in California is often viewed as a harrowing feat. The traffic, the roads, and the high-powered people in a serious hurry are enough to make anyone want to take the bus, train, or any other form of public transportation. The truth, however, is that driving in California isn’t really as hard as everyone thinks and feels. In fact, driving in this state might even be easier than driving in some others based on weather alone.
However you feel about driving in California, one thing all drivers can agree on is that the street signs in the state are helpful and should be heeded. This guide will help you identify all the major street signs in California, what they mean, and how to follow them successfully.
- Pedestrian Crossing: This simple sign means that pedestrians, or those who are not driving or within a vehicle, are crossing the road. This is usually seen at cross walks that aren’t found at stoplights or in highly populated areas that experience a lot of foot traffic.
- Merging Traffic: This sign is used when two or more lanes merge into a single lane. It ultimately lets drivers know that a merge is about to happen or is occurring. If you see this sign, it means you should change lanes, or prepare to merge smoothly without cutting anyone off.
- Divided Highway: This road sign indicates a road with a strip in the middle, typically between traffic going in opposite directions. Each side of traffic will usually have two or more lanes going in each direction.
- Yield Ahead: The Yield sign indicates that each driver must be prepared to stop if necessary to allow another driver to approach, proceed, or pass. When you slow down or come to a full stop in order to let another vehicle through, you have yielded the right of way.
- Reverse Turn: This sign offers the driver an exact layout of the highway. It typically indicates that the highway will turn one way, and then another, allowing the driver to prepare for the changes coming in the road.
- Winding Road: This sign may look like a squiggle, but it actually indicates that the road is going to become serpentine. It is typically seen in the mountains or along more natural landscapes and lets the driver know that a lot of twists and turns are coming up. Go slow when driving on such roads.
- Slippery When Wet: The “Slippery When Wet” sign is pretty self-explanatory as it lets drivers know that in the event of rain, a particular stretch of road can become very slippery. This simply means that you should slow down and be extra cautious when driving on such roads in wet conditions.
- Lane Ends: On a road with two or more lanes, this sign means that one lane is going to end or is ending. In this situation, you would simply merge into the next lane or switch lanes ahead of time.
- Two Way Traffic: This sign simply indicates that traffic goes in two directions on one road. This is especially helpful for drivers leaving a parking lot onto a two way street, or for when traffic emerges from a one way street.
- Stop Ahead: The red octagon shape on its own or within a sign indicates that a stop is approaching or has come. When you see this, you must stop at the designated section to avoid collisions and other serious accidents.
- “T” Intersection: This means a meeting or crossing of three roads in a “T” shape. When approaching or arriving at one of these, be sure to follow California regulated protocol. This includes stopping when indicated or allowing the person on your right the right-of-way if you arrive at the intersection at the same time.
- Crossroad: Also known as a “four way intersection,” the crossroad indicates the meeting of four roads in an “x” or cross shape.
- Directional Arrow: This area is indicative of which direction the road, and so your vehicle, are heading. It also lets the driver know if a road only goes one way. Typical directions indicated by this arrow are right, left, or straight ahead.
- Sharp Right/Left: This sign lets the driver know that they must make a sharp right or left, usually at the coming light. In simpler terms, it is indicative of a complete right or left turn. Always slow down when taking sharp turns, as you could cause harm or an accident.
- Not a Through Street: This sign simply lets the driver know that if they continue down a street, they will eventually reach a dead end. In this situation, drivers must make a three point turn to turn around and exit the street.
There are plenty of California road signs that come up in every day driving, but the ones listed are the most common. Now that you know what these signs look like, how to read them, and what to do when they occur, you can make the road a safer place. Driving in California may have its difficulties, but as long as everyone follows the rules, cruising around in your car should be more fun than a chore. For further information on California road signs, visit the DMV site.