New York Road Signs (A Complete Guide)

New York Road Signs (A Complete Guide)

It’s so important to obey the New York road signs.

If you don’t, it may lead to accidents, tickets, points assessed against your license, and (if you’re really unlucky) a license suspension. 

But, how can you obey these signs if you don’t even know what it means?

Let’s fix that. 

Today, we’re going to walk you through the New York traffic signs, traffic signals, and pavement markings. We’ll explain what each one is for, their usual color and shape, and the best way to approach them. 

Let’s begin!

New York Traffic Signs

There are all sorts of traffic signs on New York roadways. 

Here’s a rundown of each type of sign.

Regulation Signs

As its name implies, regulation signs indicate what you can or can’t do. These support traffic laws, and disobeying them may lead to a violation.

Most regulation signs are white with black markings. Some have red letters and symbols.

They are also commonly rectangular. However, some aren’t, such as the Stop and Yield signs.

Here are some examples of regulation signs in New York:

Stop SignSeeing a stop sign means you have to come to a complete stop. Typically, it should be before a stop line, assuming the road has one. If there isn’t, the crosswalk becomes your landmark — you must stop before entering it. 

Some intersections have neither a crosswalk nor a stop line. In these situations, you must stop before entering it. The best place is just before the turn, where you can clearly see the passing traffic. 

In all cases, you must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians already in the intersection or vehicles heading into it. 

Stop signs are red, octagonal, and have white letters.
Yield SignYield signs are red and white and have red letters. Its shape is an upside-down triangle. 

The first thing you do when you encounter a Yield sign is to slow down. At the intersection, be ready to yield the right-of-way to vehicles heading towards it or pedestrians already there. 

In some situations, you must come to a complete stop to let other vehicles pass.

Other Regulation Signs

Of course, there are many regulation signs aside from the Stop and Yield. These tell you various information about traffic flow in a specific area. 

For example, you’ll see speed limits posted or whether or not you can make a turn. Others give details about lane use, parking, and special rules.

Here are other examples of regulation signs in New York:


Warning Signs

New York Road Signs

Warning signs are very easy to spot, with their bright yellow color and black letters and symbols.

It’s pretty self-explanatory — these warn you of dangers on the road. From this picture, you can see the signs warning you of a median ahead, a curvy road head, a school zone, and a narrow bridge ahead. 

Sometimes, you’ll encounter a warning sign with a recommended speed at the bottom (such as when you’re approaching a curve). It’s best to adjust your speed accordingly to ensure your safety.

Work Area Signs

If you spot an orange sign with black letters and symbols, it only means one thing — you’re approaching a work zone.

Here, you’ll encounter a different environment. There are hazards that you won’t experience in other areas, such as falling debris. The speed limit may also be as low as 25 mph.

When driving through a work zone, always obey whatever the signs or flag person says.

Below are examples of what you may see a flag person do and what they mean. We’ve also included other work area signs you may encounter.

Destination Signs

New York Road Signs

Green, rectangular signs are destination signs. These direct you to different locations and indicate how much further you must travel.

Route Signs

There’s no standard color for route signs. But it’s rather easy to spot them since these mark state, U.S., and interstate routes. These are extremely helpful when traveling. 

State Route

U.S. Route

Interstate Route

Service Signs

If you need to get to a gas station, a hospital, or a lodging area, watch for blue signs with white letters or symbols. These are service signs.

Following them leads you to service facilities, like rest areas or restrooms.

Railroad Crossing Signs

A railroad crossing sign is also yellow, but the RR and X symbols make it unique.

Seeing one of these means you’re approaching a railroad crossing. Be ready to slow down while proceeding cautiously. 

Buses and trucks usually stop before reaching a railroad crossing, so it’s best to anticipate it if you’re following one.

New York Traffic Signals

Okay, now that you know the color, shape, and meaning of New York road signs, let’s move on to traffic signals. 

There are two kinds of traffic signals in New York:

  • Traffic lights
  • Lane control signals

Let’s cover both. 

Traffic Lights

We’re sure everyone’s familiar with traffic lights. 

But what if these lights are flashing instead of steady? 

What if the lights are arrows instead of solid lights? 

Knowing what all these mean will help you determine how you should proceed.

Steady Red Light

A red light means stop — and remain stopped until the light turns green.

You can proceed if you see a red light with a green arrow underneath. However, you can only travel in the direction the green arrow is pointing.

Usually, you can turn, even on a red light, in the following situations:

  • There is no “No Right Turn on Red” signal posted
  • You’re turning right, and you’ve come to a complete stop and yielded the right-of-way to pedestrians and vehicles. This is NOT allowed for school buses. 
  • You’re turning left from one one-way street to another

Flashing Red Light

A flashing red light has the same purpose as a steady one.

This time, however, you stop, yield the right of way, and proceed with care even if the light doesn’t turn green.

Red Arrow

Simply put, this means you cannot proceed in the direction the arrow is pointing.

Steady Yellow Light

A yellow light means it’s about to turn red. It’s best to start slowing down and prepare to stop.

Flashing Yellow Light

You can proceed when a yellow light is flashing. However, check your surroundings and exercise caution.

Steady Green Light

This allows you to continue traveling in the direction you’re going. However, don’t forget to yield the right-of-way to other vehicles – New York’s traffic laws still require it.

Green Arrow

This means you can continue going in the direction it’s pointing. Like other instances, you must adhere to New York traffic laws and yield the right-of-way to other vehicles.

Lane Control Signals

Lane control signals, on the other hand, tell when you can or cannot use specific lanes. 

Here are the different signals you may encounter:

  • Steady Red X: You cannot use the lane
  • Steady Yellow X: You must move out of the lane since it’s about to turn red
  • Flashing Yellow X: You must turn left if you continue using the lane
  • Green Arrow: You can use the lane

New York Pavement Markings

As for pavement markings, these are painted onto the road. 

And like traffic signs and signals, they have their uses, too. That’s why it’s essential to know what they mean.

Edge and Lane LinesThe space beyond a solid line at the edge of the road is considered the edge line. When driving, you must stay within those lines. The only time you should cross the edge line is if a law enforcement officer instructs you. 

Sometimes, the edge line gets closer to the center. It means the road ahead becomes narrower. 

As for lane lines, they come in two colors. 

Yellow lines separate traffic that goes in opposite directions. White lines divide traffic traveling the same way.
 Broken LinesBroken lines allow you to pass other vehicles. However, ensure it’s safe to do so before proceeding.
Solid LinesYou can switch lanes and pass other vehicles but only when necessary.
Double Solid Lines These require you to stay in your lane, so passing or switching isn’t allowed. The only exceptions are as follows: 

You are turning left
You are leaving the highway
Solid Line With Broken LinesIf you’re traveling beside the solid line, you cannot pass. 

But if you’re traveling beside the broken lines, you are permitted to pass when it is safe.  

Stop Lines and Crosswalks
You can typically find these at intersections. 

A stop line is a single white line painted across the lane, while crosswalks are two parallel white lines. 

When you make a complete stop for a stop sign, yield sign, or a red traffic light, you must stay behind the stop line or crosswalk. 
ArrowsArrow markings tell you which lane you must use when traveling.  

You have to stay in the left lane to continue straight. Using the right lane means you have to turn right.

The Wrap Up

And there you have it — a complete guide to all New York road signs, traffic signals, and pavement markings. 

Knowing and obeying all these will help you avoid violations and help keep New York’s roads safe. 

If you can’t memorize it all, then a good strategy is to just remember the different colors and shapes. From there, you can get an idea of what the sign is trying to tell you. 

Drive safely!

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