Preparing to take the Iowa permit test?
Want to avoid getting tickets?
Trying to be the safest driver you can be?
Whatever the case, you need to know the Iowa road signs. And it’s not enough to just know them — you have to obey them, too.
But how can you do that if you don’t know what half of them mean?
Well, we’re here to fix that.
In this article, we’ll give you a complete guide to Iowa traffic signs, traffic signals, and pavement markings. We’ll show you the sign and explain it to you.
So let’s get started!
Iowa Traffic Signs
Traffic signs tell you where you’re going, what the flow of traffic is, and if there are any hazards nearby.
In Iowa, traffic signs include colors, shapes, warning signs, regulation signs, and guide signs.
Let’s take a close look at all these.
Standard Sign Colors
|Red||Stop, yield, or follow what the sign says|
|Green||Gives a direction – the place where you’re going or how far a certain location is|
|Blue||Indicates services available for travelers. This often shows nearby lodging, gas stations, eating places, and hospitals.|
|Yellow||Serves as a general warning sign.|
|Fluorescent Yellow-Green||This indicates pedestrian, bicycle, and school zones. They act as warning signs.|
|White||Talks about informational laws and regulations (e.g. speed limit).|
|Orange||Warning sign for road work and temporary maintenance. Watch out for workers ahead.|
|Brown||This indicates recreational and cultural locations nearby.|
Standard Sign Shapes
|Octagon||Stop. Come to a full stop before passing through the intersection. If you’re not at an intersection, stop right before the line at the crosswalk or the point where the sign is placed.|
|Equilateral triangle / inverted triangle||Yield the right of way. Slow down and let pedestrians, bicyclists, and other vehicles go first.|
|Pennant||Found on the left-hand side of the road and warns you that there is a no-passing zone ahead.|
|Diamond||Acts as a warning. Slow down and be on the lookout for hazards or changes in direction due to road works.|
|Rectangle||Vertical signs indicate regulations, while horizontal signs indicate directions or information on locations ahead.|
|Pentagon||Indicates a school zone or school crossing. Slow down and be alert for children.|
|Crossbuck||Railroad crossing. These are found before railroads and indicate the number of tracks ahead.|
|Circle||Railroad crossing ahead. Serves as a warning sign.|
Warning signs make you aware of the hazards or a special situation ahead. When you see these yellow or yellow-green signs, start slowing down and be ready to yield or stop ahead.
|Intersection/Crossroad||Intersection ahead. Watch carefully for signals directing traffic.|
|Signal Ahead||Traffic signal ahead.|
|Merging Traffic||You are approaching merging traffic. Be prepared for vehicles to merge into your lane.|
|Two-Way Traffic||You are leaving a one-way traffic lane and approaching two-way traffic ahead.|
|Divided Highway Begins||There is a divided highway ahead.|
|Divided Highway Ends||The divided highway ends soon.|
|Horse-drawn Vehicle||Slow-moving vehicles such as horse-drawn vehicles ahead. Reduce speed and pass them carefully.|
|Merge Left||Two traffic lanes will merge into one. Right-lane vehicles should yield to the other lane when merging.|
|Farm Machinery||Farm equipment may be present/crossing ahead. Slow down when approaching.|
|Pedestrian Crossing||Pedestrian crossing ahead. Slow down and yield.|
|Deer Crossing||Beware of deer crossing ahead.|
|Hill||You are approaching a downhill slope. Check your brakes and slow down.|
|T-Intersection Ahead||No road goes straight ahead. Prepare to go right or left.|
|Gradual Right Curve||Expect a gradual curve on the road ahead.|
|Slippery When Wet||The road ahead becomes slippery during wet weather. Slow down during this time.|
|Chevron Sign||Warns against a change in direction ahead.|
|Ramp Speed||The indicated number is the recommended speed.|
|Advance School Crossing||Advance warning that you’re approaching a school zone. Start slowing down and look out for children nearby.|
|School Crossing||School crossroads at this point. Reduce speed and look out for children playing or planning to cross the road.|
|School Bus Stop Ahead||Watch out for children unloading or loading the bus. Stop behind the school bus.|
Regulation signs MUST be obeyed at all times. If not, then you could get a ticket.
|Regulation signs with a red slash||Tells you what you are not allowed to do. The sample signs mean “no left turn,” “no right turn,” and “no u-turn”|
|Speed Limit Signs||Gives the maximum or minimum speed limits on the road you’re on.|
|Lane Control Signs||Tell you where you can go, such as go straight, right, left, or make a u-turn.|
|Passing Signs||Shows you where it’s safe to pass and where you’re not allowed to pass.|
|Stop Sign||Make a full stop when you approach this sign. When the road ahead is clear, cross carefully.|
|Yield Sign||Yield the right of way when you’re at an intersection or approaching a crosswalk.|
|Divided Highway||The road ahead is divided. Follow the direction stated on the sign.|
|Wrong Way||You are going the wrong way. Make a turn or get out of the lane you are in.|
|One Way||The lane only moves in one direction.|
|Do Not Enter||You are not allowed to enter the road ahead. This is often found on exit ramps or one-way roads.|
|Slow-Moving Vehicle Sign||This is found on the rear of a vehicle that is traveling 35 mph or less.|
As we saw, guide signs are rectangular and are often brown, green, blue, or white. They indicate the location where you’re at or the other places found nearby.
Now, there are two types of guide signs – service signs and route signs.
|Service Signs||Service signs are in blue and indicate services offered nearby, such as lodging, comfort rooms, hospitals, etc.|
|Route Signs||They indicate the interstate, state, country, or road ahead.|
Iowa Traffic Signals
Okay, let’s move on to traffic signals.
Traffic signals help direct the flow of traffic. In this section, we’ll look at the common traffic signals, the railroad crossings, and the road work zones.
Common Traffic Signals
|Traffic Lights||Red – make a complete stop before entering the intersection|
Yellow – Slow down as the light will soon turn red
Yellow Arrow – stop first before proceeding in the direction of the arrow.
Green – go when the intersection is clear
Green arrow – go in the direction of the arrow.
|Flashing Red lights||Stop before proceeding.|
|Flashing Yellow lights||Proceed with caution and yield to vehicles or pedestrians.|
|Left-Turn Signal Head||Steady red arrow – stop. Turn left when it’s green. |
Steady yellow arrow – the red light will turn on in a few seconds. Make a stop if you can.
Flashing yellow arrow – proceed with caution, but yield to vehicles and pedestrians.
Steady green arrow – proceed to make a left turn.
|Advance warning signs||Advance warning of a railroad ahead.|
|Flashing light signals with/without gates||Flashing lights without gates – placed on railroads. When the lights are flashing, make a full stop unless the train has passed. |
Flashing lights with gates – make a full stop right in front of the gate when the lights flash
Road Work Zones
|Road Work warning||A warning sign of road work or maintenance ahead. Be cautious and follow the signs that will follow.|
|Flashing arrow panels||Follow the arrows to avoid the road work ahead.|
|Flaggers||People that will help direct the flow of traffic during temporary road works. They will be wearing reflective jackets.|
|Channelizing Devices||Road objects that will help direct the flow of traffic near a work zone.|
Iowa Pavement Markings
Finally, let’s look at the Iowa pavement markings.
Pavement markings are meant to regulate and direct traffic on all highways.
|One-direction roadway||Marked by a broken white line to show that the road follows the same direction of traffic.|
|Two-direction roadway||Marked by broken yellow lines separating two different directions of traffic.|
Solid yellow lines beside broken yellow lines indicate that the side where the solid line is should not be used for passing.
|Crosswalks, stop lines, directional arrows||These are usually found at intersections. |
Crosswalks are areas where pedestrians cross. If you are approaching this area, yield to pedestrians.
|Reversible lanes||Marked by double-dashed yellow lines indicating that they may be used for different directions at certain times. Look out for road signs that indicate when the lanes change directions.|
|Shared center lane||Reserved for cars making left turns or u-turns when permitted (marked by the arrow in the middle).|
|Reserved lane for bus and carpools||Reserved for bus and carpools at a specified time.|
|Reserved lane for bicyclists||Reserved for bicyclists|
|Reserved lane for High Occupancy Vehicles (HOV)||Reserved for carpools with more than one person in them, but the sign specifies the number of people who must be in the vehicle for the lane to be used.|
That’s a lot of road signs!
And we know that it can be hard to memorize everything.
However, it’s a good idea to get the basics, like the standard colors and shapes. With that, you’ll be able to tell if it’s a warning, regulation, or guide sign.
As for the traffic signals and pavement markings, these are pretty common. Most likely you already know all about that, especially if you’ve been driving for a while.
So that was your complete guide to Iowa road signs.
Remember, it’s always a good idea to be conscious of these signs and follow them accordingly.
Be a safe and responsible driver!