Massachusetts Road Signs (A Complete Guide)

Massachusetts Road Signs (A Complete Guide)

Road signs are essential. 

They are there to control traffic, warn of hazards ahead, give directions, and much more. 

Unfortunately, not many drivers are familiar with these road signs. 

Let’s change that. 

Today, we’re going to give you a complete guide to the Massachusetts road signs. We’re going to explain and give a visual aid for the traffic signals, traffic signs, and pavement markings. 

With this, you’ll be able to pass your permit test on the first try, adhere to the road rules, and be the safest driver you can be. 

So shall we begin? 

Massachusetts Traffic Signals

Whether you’re a driver or not, you probably already know what traffic signals are — the lights that regulate the movement of traffic on the road. 

Now, in Massachusetts, there are 2 types of traffic signals:

  • Vehicle signals
  • Pedestrian signals

Let’s look at both of these. 

Vehicle Signals

As the name suggests, vehicle signals regulate the movement of all motor vehicles on the road. 

A quick look at any busy city center and you’ll spot these vehicle signals on every street corner.

Here is what the vehicle signals look like. 

Massachusetts Road Signs

As you probably already know by now, red requires all traffic to come to a stop, while green allows traffic to flow through. As for the yellow light, it means that the green light is about to turn red. 

If the yellow light comes on and you are at a speed where it isn’t possible to stop, then you may pass, as long as there is enough time to get through before the light turns red. 

In addition to steady lights, you may encounter flashing arrows, too.

steady ligh

The color readings of each mean the same as the solid lights, except that it refers to movement in the direction that the arrow is pointing to alone.

One more thing. If you see a red flashing light, that usually means to make a full stop, look around, and pass if it’s safe to do so. 

Pedestrian Signals

To help pedestrians cross safely, there are pedestrian signals that tell them what to do. 

Massachusetts Road Signs

Some signals are very easy to understand — with it literally saying ‘WALK’ or ‘DON’T WALK’.

Others have a red hand telling you to stop crossing. Once the hand becomes a walking person, you are allowed to cross. 

Still, other pedestrian signals have times on them. This will warn you how much time you have before the walk or don’t walk sign will change. 

Massachusetts Traffic Signs 

Traffic signs, much like traffic signals, are used to regulate traffic. However, that’s not the only purpose. These signs may also inform, warn, or guide you. 

In Massachusetts, there are 5 main traffic signs, namely:

  • Regulatory signs
  • Warning signs
  • Guide and direction signs
  • Speed limit signs
  • Work zone signs

Before we get into them, let’s look at the traffic sign shapes and colors to help you determine what kind of sign it is. 

Traffic Sign Shapes

The shape of the sign changes the message being delivered.

Traffic sign shapes

The octagon sign is a stop sign. This operates much like a stop light, requiring you to come to a complete stop to allow pedestrians and vehicles to cross before you can go. 

The triangle shape is a yield sign. This operates in a similar fashion — drivers need to slow down to allow all right-of-way pedestrians and vehicles to pass before continuing. 

As for the other shapes, it doesn’t just have one meaning. You have to look at the sign to know what it’s telling you.

For example, if you see a horizontal rectangular, you know it’s a guide sign, but you have to see where it is directing you. If the rectangular is vertical, then it’s a regulatory sign, meaning you MUST obey what the sign says.  

Traffic Sign Colors

Just like the shapes, the sign colors can also help you determine what type of sign it is. 

RED – Requires a complete stop or indicates a prohibition.

GREEN – Give direction.

YELLOW – Warns you of hazards ahead.

BLACK/WHITE – Indicates a regulatory sign. It must be obeyed. 

BLUE – Indicates a service such as a gas station or hotel. Also indicates an evacuation route.

BROWN – Indicates a recreational, historic, or scenic site

ORANGE – Warns drivers of construction zones or road maintenance up ahead

FLUORESCENT YELLOW-GREEN – Informs of a school zone, bicycle path, pedestrian crossing, or curve warning. 

FLUORESCENT PINK – Incident management signs referring to potential road events ahead.

PURPLE – Refers to an electronic toll collection sign

Regulatory Signs

Regulatory signs tell drivers about regulations or laws they should follow.

These signs may have a combination of words and images or be completely image-based. Let’s look at the most common regulatory signs in Massachusetts. 

Massachusetts Road Signs

Warning Signs

Yellow and fluorescent yellow-green warning signs warn you of dangers, hazards, or any road conditions you need to be aware of. Here are common warning signs in the state. 

Warning signs

Guide and Direction Signs

Guide and direction signs are route markers, distance indicators, destination signs, and informational signs. 

Signs colored green are informational, giving highway directions or guiding you through highway interchanges.

Blue signs list services, such as gas stations, restaurants, and hotels.

Brown signs direct you to public recreational areas or popular tourist spots, such as state and national parks or historical points of significance.

Massachusetts Road Signs

Speed Limit Signs

Speeds limit signs are pretty self-explanatory. These signs MUST be followed if you want to avoid a ticket!

Speed limit signs

You’ll have to abide by the speed limit in each area, but be mindful to drive slower if it’s raining heavily.

Massachusetts Road Signs

Certain communities that are heavily populated may come under ‘thickly settled’ areas, where slower speed limits are necessary.

School sign

Additionally, school zone speed limits are strictly enforced, due to the danger of children running out on the open road. Reduce your speed and be mindful of your surroundings in these areas.

Work Zone Signs

You will see work zone signs in areas where construction is taking place, either on or close to the road.

When you see these signs, it’s best to slow down and cross the construction zone safely while keeping a lookout for your surroundings.

Massachusetts Road Signs

Work zone signs may also indicate whether roadworks have led to a portion of the road being closed.

These signs will guide you according to the road conditions.

Massachusetts Road Signs

Massachusetts Pavement Markings

Finally, let’s look at the pavement markings in Massachusetts. 

Pavement markings help indicate the rules of the road, such as overtaking and driving direction.

Pvement markings

Broken white lines direct the flow of traffic going in the same direction. It allows you to overtake other vehicles if it is safe to do so.

Broken white line

Broken yellow lines direct traffic going in the opposite direction. Here, overtaking is allowed, considering no other vehicle is coming from the other side.

Broken yellow line

Solid yellow lines and broken yellow lines side by side indicate overtaking restrictions. If the solid yellow line is on your side, you cannot cross the lines. If the broken line is on your side, then overtaking is allowed, if it is safe. 

Massachusetts Road Signs

Two solid yellow lines forbid overtaking for both sides. You can only overtake the vehicle in front of you once the double solid lines end.

Massachusetts Road Signs

Pavement markings also indicate the appropriate place to stop your vehicle. 

When you make a stop, you should never cross or be on the stop line, crosswalk, or yield line. 

Certain lanes may be for cyclists only, here the pavement will be labeled with a cyclist symbol to signify their right of way.


So there you have it — a complete guide to the Massachusetts road signs. 

A lot of the signs are pretty self-explanatory. But if you can’t memorize them all, then it’s a good idea to be familiar with the shapes and colors at least. 

This way, you’ll know what kind of sign it is. 

And depending on what sign you come across, always obey or adhere to what it tells you. 

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