Signs, Signals & Markings
The State of Georgia uses seven basic shapes of signs to convey traffic control instructions. Drivers should know signs by their shapes and colors so that they may recognize them from a distance and begin reacting timely and appropriately.
Vertical Rectangle signs are generally used for regulatory signs, which tell you what you must do. You must obey them in the same manner as traffic laws.
Diamond shaped signs warn of existing or possible hazards on roadways or adjacent areas. They are yellow with black words indicating the potential hazard, or black symbols visually describing the potential hazard.
Horizontal Rectangle signs are generally used as guide signs. They show locations, directions, or other special information.
An Octagon (eight-sided shape) always means stop. When you come to it, you must make a complete stop at a marked stop line. If there is no stop line, stop before the crosswalk on your side of the intersection. If there is no crosswalk, stop at a point from which you can best see oncoming traffic. You must not start again until all pedestrians have finished crossing on the side of the roadway you are traveling on, and you have yielded the right-of-way to closely approaching traffic.
A round sign means you are approaching a railroad crossing. This sign is posted a few hundred feet in front of the tracks and alerts you to slow down, look, listen and prepare to stop. If necessary, roll down a window and listen carefully for an approaching train. If a train is approaching, stop! Do not try to calculate whether you can “make it” across the track. Never try to beat a train through the intersection. Passing is prohibited at all railroad crossings.
Triangle signs mean yield. You must slow down to a speed that is reasonable for existing conditions and stop if necessary. If you must stop, do so at a marked stop line, if it exists. After slowing or stopping, you must yield the right-of-way to other vehicles in the intersection or approaching closely on another roadway or auxiliary road leading into a major highway.
Pentagon shaped signs mean you are approaching a school zone and/or school crossing. When used, they will be erected not less than 150 feet nor more than 700 feet in advance of the school grounds or school crossing. (These signs can sometimes be fluorescent green in color.)
It’s the Law
Georgia law requires that all drivers, including bicyclists, obey official highway signs and traffic control signals unless otherwise directed by a police officer or emergency worker.
Regulatory signs tell drivers what they may or may not do. Drivers, including bicyclists, must obey them in the same manner as traffic laws. Remember, a red circle with a red slash from upper left to lower right means “No.” The picture within the circle shows what is prohibited.
This marks a one-way road. If you are facing this sign traffic is coming toward you. You must not continue down the road.
You are approaching a one-way highway or ramp. Driving on the highway or ramp in the direction you are traveling is not allowed.
You cannot turn around to go in the opposite direction at this intersection.
You are approaching an area where a reduced speed limit has been established.
You are approaching a school zone. A reduced speed limit is in effect when the yellow lights are flashing.
You may travel only in the direction of the arrow.
You cannot make a right turn at this intersection.
When two or more traveling lanes are available in the direction you are traveling, slower traffic should travel in the right (outside) lane(s).
Bicycles are prohibited from entering
Traffic is required to keep to the right of medians or obstructions.
55 miles per hour is the maximum speed limit permitted in this area.
A right turn on red is prohibited, even after coming to a complete stop.
Trucks are prohibited from entering this roadway.
Warning signs are usually yellow with black markings. (Warning signs can also be fluorescent green with black markings.) They alert you to conditions that are immediately ahead. There may be road hazards, changes in traffic direction, or some other potentially hazardous situation that requires action on your part.
Sharp turn to the right and then sharp turn to the left.
Side road enters highway ahead at an angle.
The bridge ahead allows room for only two lanes of traffic. Approach with caution.
Shoulder of the road is soft. Drive on the shoulder only in emergencies.
Warning that you are leaving a separated one-way highway and will soon be driving on a two-way highway.
to the right.
Winding road ahead.
Another road crosses the highway ahead.
There is a dip in the road ahead. Slow down!
Divided highway begins. Prepare to change lanes or shift lane position.
Approaching a low underpass. Do not enter if your vehicle or cargo exceeds the maximum height indicated on the sign.
Curve to the right.
Side road enters highway ahead.
The road you are traveling on ends straight ahead. Slow down and prepare to yield or stop before turning right or left.
There is a bump in the road ahead. Slow down!
Divided highway ends. Prepare to change lanes or shift lane position.
Steep hill ahead. Slow down and be ready to shift to lower gear to control speed and protect brakes from damage.
Presence of traffic signals at intersection ahead. Slow down!
Roadway is slippery when wet. Remember, the first half-hour of rain is most hazardous.
Traffic merging from the right. Prepare to allow traffic to safely merge.
There is a yield sign ahead. Slow down and prepare to stop if necessary.
There is a stop sign ahead. Begin to slow down and be prepared to stop.
These signs alert drivers in advance of areas where animals, people, and vehicles may be crossing.
Drivers must stop and stay stopped when pedestrians are in the crosswalk.
This sign is on the left side of the highway and marks the beginning of a no passing zone. Any passing maneuver must be completed before reaching this sign.
These signs may be accompanied by speed advisory plaques that indicate the speed with which you should proceed.
Number of lanes
Guide signs may indicate what road you are on, and how to get to your destination. Many guide signs are rectangular, but some have other shapes. There are several different kinds of guide signs — route markers, information, destination, distance, and location signs. These signs may be accompanied by a “To” sign or an arrow, indicating the highway, facility, or location that can be reached by following the signs. Here are some examples:
The numbers on these signs designate specific exits, interstates or highways.
Intersection of U.S. Route 47 & Ga. Highway 38. These roads are going to cross or meet the highway you are traveling on.
Milepost markers are placed each mile along the edge of the roadway from one end of the state to the other. Zero always starts at the south or west border where a route begins.
Caution – a vehicle displaying this emblem is a slow-moving vehicle. A slow-moving vehicle is defined as any vehicle moving less than 25 miles per hour. They are required by law to display this emblem.
This sign means there is a public parking area in the direction of the arrow.
The cross-buck is placed at all railroad crossings. Yield to any approaching trains. Slow down, look and listen before crossing. A sign below the cross-buck indicates the number of tracks. A complete stop is required when a red light is flashing.
This sign marks an officially designated bicycle route. Be cautious of bicyclists while traveling on this road.
Warning signs for construction and maintenance projects are used to alert you to dangers ahead and give you enough time to adjust your speed accordingly. These signs are orange with black markings.
While traveling along Georgia’s highways, the following blue and white signs will give directions to service facilities.
Traffic signals are placed at intersections to control the orderly movement of traffic and to prevent crashes. Drivers (including bicyclists) and pedestrians must obey these signals except when an officer is directing traffic. If a traffic signal is not functioning at all at an intersection, all drivers must treat the intersection as if a stop sign is posted for all directions. If a traffic signal is malfunctioning and flashing, drivers must proceed based on the color of the flashing signal they are facing: if the driver is facing a yellow flashing signal, the driver may proceed with caution; if the driver is facing a red flashing signal, the driver must stop and wait until it is safe to proceed.
A flashing yellow arrow means you may turn left after yielding to oncoming traffic and pedestrians (oncoming traffic still has the green light).
Some roadways are designed to accommodate different traffic demands during the day through the use of a reversible lane system. Appropriate travel lanes on a roadway utilizing a reversible lane system are indicated as follows:
No travel allowed in this lane in the direction you are going.
“Steady” – clear the lane “Flashing” – left turn permitted.
Travel in lane.
Left turn only.
Straight or left turn only.
Right turn only.
Leave the curb to cross the street.
Do not leave curb.
Flashing – do not leave curb, but complete walking across the street if already started.
“HAWK’ stands for High-Intensity Activated Crosswalk. This signal is also known as a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon (PHB), and it is designed to help pedestrians safely cross busy streets. Pedestrians push a button to activate the overhead beacon and stop road traffic. When WALK appears on the Pedestrian signal, pedestrians can cross the street.
The HAWK remains DARK for traffic unless a pedestrian activates the push-button.
When a pedestrian presses the button, the signal is activated. Approaching drivers will see a FLASHING YELLOW signal for a few seconds.
The flashing yellow is followed by a SOLID YELLOW signal, indicating drivers should reduce speed and be prepared to stop.
The solid yellow is followed by double SOLID RED signals, requiring drivers to stop.
The double solid red signals are followed by alternating FLASHING RED signals. This requires drivers to come to a full STOP, and proceed when pedestrians have cleared the crosswalk. The signal will then go dark until activated again by a pedestrian.
Pavement markings, like highway signs, are used to warn and direct drivers and to regulate traffic.
Stop lines are white lines painted across the pavement at intersections indicating the point beyond which your vehicle should not cross if you are stopping for a traffic control device. In urban areas, the line is usually located about four feet before the crosswalk. Drivers must come to a complete stop at the stop line, when present, not at the actual stop sign or traffic signal.
These white lines are painted across, or partially across the pavement. Sometimes they will be painted in a ladder pattern. When pedestrians are in the crosswalks, they have the right-of-way over motor vehicles. Crosswalks are sometimes in the middle of a block in residential areas, and in some cases, a pedestrian crossing signal is located at the white line.
When a road is crossed by a railroad crossing, the pavement is usually marked with a large X and two R’s. At railroad crossings, a yellow line is always placed on the right side of the center line to prevent passing. The crossing is sometimes equipped with control arms and/or emergency lights, to warn drivers of approaching trains. The driver of the vehicle must stop if warning signals indicate a train is approaching.
These are used to separate traffic moving in opposite directions on paved roadways. Broken yellow lines are used when there are only two lanes and it is safe to pass in either direction.
These single, solid yellow lines on two-lane roads indicate zones where passing is prohibited. They will be located on the right of the broken yellow line when they apply to the lane in which you are traveling. In some instances, both yellow lines will be solid, indicating it is not safe for passing in either direction.
Double White Lines
These are double white line (dashed or solid) pavement markings on roadways that indicate where vehicles can or cannot cross to access the adjacent lane. When the double white lines are dashed, vehicles are allowed to cross over to the adjacent lane. When the double white lines are solid, lane changes are prohibited.
These are the solid white lines along the side of the pavement. They serve as safety guides, especially at night when it is difficult to see the edge of the road. A yellow edge line may be used on the left side to warn of narrow or raised medians.
These are the white dashes that mark the individual lanes of travel on streets and highways having more than one lane for traffic moving in the same direction.
When there are four or more lanes with traffic moving in opposite directions, two solid yellow lines mark the center of the roadway. You may cross these lines only to make a left turn into or from an alley, private road, driveway, or another street. When traveling on a multi-lane road, stay in the right lane except to pass other vehicles traveling in the same direction.
These markings, created by diagonal yellow lines, are on streets and highways indicating that the road is narrowing or there is an obstruction on the roadway. The area is similar to a triangle with solid yellow diagonal lines within the outside lines. Always keep to the right of these markings.
These lanes, bordered by solid yellow and/or broken yellow lines, is in the center of many streets and highways to make left turns. A motorist desiring to turn left should proceed to the turn lane just prior to making a left turn. Georgia law prohibits the use of this lane for any purpose other than making a left turn. You may enter this lane no more than 300 feet from the location of the left turn.
When a turning lane is provided for vehicles traveling in both directions, you should use extreme caution before entering the turning lane to make a left turn. There may be a vehicle traveling in the opposite direction also entering the turning lane to make a left turn. This is especially problematic in congested areas.
These are solid white lines typically located between the farthest right traffic lane and the curb or edge of the roadway. If there is a right-turn-only lane present, the bicycle lane will be located to the left of the right-turn-only lane in order to safely accommodate bicycles traveling straight through the intersection. Bicycle lanes may also be marked with painted symbols of a bicycle. Drivers of motor vehicles are prohibited from driving or parking in the bicycle lane, except to cross over it to make a turn. When crossing over a bicycle lane to make a turn, motorists must yield to bicyclists that are present.
Navigating a roundabout
Roundabouts are sometimes used at intersections instead of stop signs. The purpose of a roundabout is to allow the intersection to handle heavier traffic flow without the need for a signal or a four-way stop. When entering a roundabout, traffic laws concerning right-of-way still apply. You must yield to other traffic that is already in the roundabout. You will always enter a roundabout to the right, and continue circling until you have reached the roadway onto which you want to turn. When reaching the desired road, you will always exit to the right.