When driving in California, you should pay attention and obey traffic signals and road signs.
I mean, they are there for a reason.
But how can you expect to obey these signs if you don’t know what half of them mean?
We’re here to help.
In this article, we’re going to tell you everything you should know about California road signs. We’ll include pictures to make it easier to remember.
So shall we?
California Traffic Signals
Let’s start with the most basic – traffic signals.
Solid Red Light
A red traffic light means “STOP”. You can only turn right at a solid red light if:
- There is no sign that says “NO TURN ON RED”.
- You follow right-of-way rules with bicyclists, pedestrians, and other vehicles. Only turn right when it is safe.
Flashing Red Light
A flashing red light also means “STOP”. However, you can go if you see that it is safe to do so. Make sure to know who has the right-of-way if there are pedestrians, bicyclists, or other vehicles nearby.
If you see a red arrow, that means you cannot turn where the arrow is pointing just yet. You have to stop and wait.
Solid Yellow Light
A yellow traffic light means “CAUTION”, which means the light is about to turn red. When the yellow traffic light appears, slow down and get ready for a full stop.
Flashing Yellow Light
A flashing yellow light means “PROCEED WITH CAUTION”. You don’t need to stop, but you should slow down. Before you enter the intersection, be alert and watch out for pedestrians, cyclists, or vehicles.
Flashing Yellow Arrow
A yellow arrow is a warning that the signal on a turn will change soon. If you can’t stop safely or you’re in the intersection, be cautious when completing your turn. The next signal could be a green light, red light, or a red arrow.
Solid Green Light
A green light means “GO”. You can proceed forward without having to stop or slow down, if it is safe, of course.
A green arrow means you can safely turn in the direction the arrow is pointing.
Blackout/Signal Light Not Working
If the traffic signal light is not working, stop, look around, then proceed cautiously.
California Pedestrian Signals
Signals are not only for vehicles. If you’re a pedestrian, you should understand and obey the pedestrian signals, as well.
“WALK” or “Walking Person”
This simply means you can cross the street.
Flashing “DON’T WALK” or Flashing “Raised Hand”
The traffic light is about to turn green, hence, you cannot cross the street yet. Doing so will put you in trouble or danger.
That said, drivers should still yield to pedestrians when the “DON’T WALK” or Raised Hand” sign is flashing.
This countdown shows how many seconds are left for pedestrians to cross the street safely.
Sounds such as verbal messages, chirping, or beeping is designed to help visually impaired persons to cross the street.
All vehicles at the intersection are stopped to allow pedestrians to cross different directions at the same time.
Pedestrian Push Button
The pedestrian push button activates the “WALK” signal.
No Pedestrian Signals
Don’t see any pedestrian signals? Then just follow the traffic signals instead.
California Road Signs
Now, let’s focus on the actual road signs.
The stop sign is an 8-sided red sign that indicates that you need to make a full stop at the limit line or before entering the crosswalk. If there is no crosswalk or limit line, stop before entering the intersection and check all directions before proceeding.
The yield sign is like an inverted triangle. You should slow down and be cautious of any bicyclist, pedestrian, and vehicle before proceeding.
Red and White Regulatory Signs
If you see square red and white regulatory signs, you should follow the instruction. Some examples of these signs are “DO NOT ENTER” and “WRONG WAY”.
If you see any of these signs, you should drive on the side of the road and stop. When it’s safe, you can turn around or back out.
These signs have a red circle with a red line through it. It indicates what you cannot do. Examples of these signs are “NO U-TURN” and “NO LEFT TURN”.
A 5-sided sign indicates that you are driving near a school. If you see children in the crosswalk, you must stop.
Railroad Crossing Signs
A black and yellow sign or an x-shaped sign means you are approaching a railroad crossing. You must stop, look, listen, and proceed with caution. If there is a train approaching, make sure to let it pass before moving forward.
Many warning signs are diamond-shaped signs that warn you of the dangers ahead and road conditions. Some examples are “Pedestrian Crossing”, “Two Way Traffic”, and “Traffic Signal Ahead”.
California Lane Markings
Finally, lane markings help drivers understand which lanes to use. There are different lane colors and patterns.
Let’s get to know each one!
Single Solid Yellow Lines
A single solid yellow line marks the road with two-way traffic.
Do not cross this line into oncoming traffic. If there is only one lane of traffic in your direction and a solid yellow line on the side of the road, do not pass a vehicle in front of you.
Double Solid Yellow Lines
You should not pass over and drive to the left of double solid yellow lines unless:
- You are turning left to exit or enter a private road or driveway.
- The road is blocked or closed and you’re instructed by a sign or constructor to drive on the other side of the road.
- You are in a high-occupancy vehicle lane and the entrance is designated on the left
Two sets of double solid yellow lines are considered a barrier if it is spaced at least two feet apart. Avoid driving on this barrier or make a U-turn across it.
Broken Yellow Lines
A broken yellow line means you can pass if it is next to your lane.
Single Solid White Lines
A single solid white line means the traffic lanes or one-way streets are going in the same direction.
Double Solid White Lines
Indicates a lane barrier between a preferential use lane or a regular use lane. Never change lanes when you see double solid white lines. Wait until you come across a single broken white line.
Broken White Lines
A broken white line separates traffic lanes with two or more lanes in the same direction.
End of Lane Markings
End-of-lane marks are usually large broken lines. This means you need to be prepared for the lane to end or to exit the freeway. Look for the exit or merge signs.
A yield line or also known as the “shark’s teeth” is a white line of triangles that shows vehicles where to stop or yield. The triangle points to the approaching vehicles.
And that’s it!
The California road signs that you should know about.
Remember, these signals, signs, and markings are all there for a reason. And that is to keep you safe while on the road.
So make sure you pay attention to them and follow each one.
By knowing the basic road signs, you will be able to drive safely on the road.