Rhode Island Road Signs (A Complete Guide)

Rhode Island Road Signs (A Complete Guide)

It’s so important to know the different road signs. 


This will help you:

  • Pass your knowledge test
  • Avoid an annoying traffic ticket
  • Be a better and safer driver

And because of that, we want to make sure that you know ALL the Rhode Island road signs, from roadway markings and traffic signals to the actual traffic signs. 

This is what we’ll be looking at today. 

So let’s go!

Rhode Island Roadway Markings 

Let’s first focus on the road, shall we?

You can’t miss the markings on Rhode Island’s roadways. 

But what do they mean?

Let’s find out. 

Yellow LinesThese separate lanes with traffic going in opposite directions. 
While LinesYou’ll observe white lines in several areas along a highway: 

Dividing traffic lanes going in the same direction
Marking the edge of roadways
Solid LinesYou cannot pass other vehicles or switch lanes if solid lines separate traffic lanes. The only exception is if there is an emergency.

Solid white lines restrict passing except for specific situations, such as emergencies, carpool lanes, slow-moving vehicles, or breakdowns.
Broken LinesThese also separate traffic lanes. White broken lines allow passing and lane switches, while yellow broken lines are only for passing. 
Solid with Broken LinesYou’ll typically see this on two-lane roads, and carry the same meaning. However, drivers are required to follow the line in their lane.  

For example, if a solid line is on your side of the road, you cannot use the other lane to pass other vehicles. But if the broken lines are on your side, then you can pass. 

Besides those highlighted above, you may also encounter other roadway markings, such as:

  • Crosswalks
  • Stop lines
  • Xing (crossing)
  • HOV lanes
  • RR (railroad crossing)
  • Parking lanes
  • Reversible lanes
  • Restricted lanes
  • Shared left turn lanes

Here is how these roadway markings look from a bird’s eye view:

A multi-lane roadway divided by a median strip, guard rail, or jersey barrier.
A multi-lane roadway where you can only cross the solid lines at the center or on the side if your vehicle breaks down.
You cannot pass other vehicles in this two-lane, two-way roadway, regardless of which direction you’re traveling. However, you can cross solid lines if you are turning or your car breaks down.
A two-lane, two-way roadway where you can pass vehicles if you are heading to the left.
You can pass other vehicles on this two-lane, two-way roadway. 
All vehicles can use the center lane for left turns to enter or exit streets or driveways (Shared Left Turn Lane).
The lane with a diamond means it’s for High Occupancy Vehicle – Carpooling (HOV Lane).
You can only use the lane with green arrows (Reversible Lanes).

Roadway markings aren’t limited to roads and highways. 

Sometimes, you’ll see them in parking spaces. 

Now, you cannot use a parking space with these markings unless you have a disability permit.


Rhode Island Traffic Signals

We’re sure you’re familiar with traffic signals.

However, it’s essential to note the different meanings of lights that are steady, flashing, or accompanied by an arrow.

Here’s a rundown of Rhode Island traffic signals and what they mean:

Steady Red LightYou must come to a complete stop before you reach the stop line or crosswalk. You can only move again when the light turns green.
Steady Yellow LightSeeing a yellow light tells you the signal is about to turn red. Prepare to stop by slowing down, ideally before you enter the intersection. 

If it isn’t possible, proceed through the intersection with caution.
Steady Green LightYou can proceed in the direction you’re going. However, you must still yield the right of way to pedestrians on the crosswalk and other vehicles already in the intersection. 

It can either be a fresh green light (it just turned green) or a stale one (the light has been green for a while).
Flashing Red LightA flashing red light has the same purpose as a stop sign. You must first make a complete stop, yield the right of way to vehicles on your left and right, then proceed. 
Flashing Yellow LightThis means to slow down when crossing the intersection. Look carefully to the left and right and proceed with caution. 
Traffic Light with a Green Arrow:
You may turn in the direction of the green arrow even if it accompanies a red light. It’s called a protected turn since the signal protects you against oncoming traffic.

Traffic Light with a Red Arrow:
You cannot proceed with your turn if there is a red arrow with the traffic signal. You’ll typically see this on left or right-hand turns. You must wait for a green arrow or light or a flashing yellow arrow to continue.

Traffic Light with a Flashing Yellow Arrow:
You can complete a left-hand turn on a flashing yellow light, but you must yield to pedestrians and oncoming traffic first.

HAWK – High-Intensity Activated Crosswalk

Not all traffic signals are for vehicles. 

There are also signals that help pedestrians cross safely. 

For pedestrians, these signals are the common Walk / Don’t Walk signs. 


Don’t Walk

However, in busier intersections, you may encounter a High-Intensity Activated Crosswalk (HAWK).

Unlike the Walk/Don’t Walk signs, the HAWK goes through 6 stages:

Stage 1: The HAWK remains dark until a pedestrian activates it.
Stage 2: When a pedestrian activates it, it shows a flashing yellow light (FY). This warns drivers that the HAWK is activated. 
Stage 3: The flashing yellow (FY) light turns into a steady one (SY). This tells drivers to slow down since the red light is above to appear. 
Stage 4: When two steady red lights (SR) appear, drives must stop so pedestrians can cross to the other side of the road.
Stage 5: You will see alternate flashing red lights (FR) when the HAWK is about to deactivate. It’s a sign for pedestrians to finish crossing.
Stage 6: The HAWK turns dark again and remains in this state until another pedestrian activates it.

Rhode Island Traffic Signs 

Okay, okay. 

Let’s get to the actual traffic signs. 

Now, these signs fall under 3 categories: 

  • Regulatory signs
  • Guide signs
  • Warning signs

The following sections show examples for each.

Regulatory Signs

Regulatory signs support existing traffic rules. 

They tell you what you can or can’t do. 

Failure to follow them usually results in a traffic violation.

Another thing you should know is that these signs are usually red and white, red, black, and white, or black and white. 

Here are common regulatory signs you’ll encounter:



Do Not Enter

No Left Turn

No Parking

No Trucks

No U-Turn

Wrong Way

No Parking

No Passing Zone

One Way

One Way

Speed Limit 

Keep Right

No Right Turn on Red Signal

Right Turn Only

Restricted Lane

Right or Straight

Left or Straight

Lane Restrictions

Guide Signs

Its name explains its purpose — these signs provide information about where you want to go.


Green guide signs typically direct you to your destination. They come in the form of exit signs and mile markers.

Blue guide signs direct you to service facilities such as payphones or hospitals.

Rhode Island Road Signs

Brown guide signs lead you to tourist attractions.


Some guide signs are route and interstate markers.

Warning Signs

Here’s another self-explanatory name. 

These signs are usually yellow with black markings, making them easy to spot. 

Work zone signs are also warning signs, but colored orange. 

All these inform you ahead of time of possible road hazards you may encounter.

Here are some examples:

Yield Sign Ahead 

Traffic Signal Ahead
 Stop Sign Ahead
No Passing Zone 

Slow Moving Vehicle
Railroad Crossing Here
Road Alignment (curve)
 School CrossingDetour 
Entering Divided Roadway
Leaving Divided Roadway
Left Curve
Right CurveWinding Road 
Side Road (Right) 

Traffic Island 
Fire Station
Pedestrian Crossing
Object Markers (Bridges)

Road Narrows From Right

Added Lane from Left
Tractor Crossing
Deer Crossing

Bicycle Crossing

Ramp Speed Advisory
Two-Way Traffic
Narrow Bridge


Road End Marker
Object Marker Slippery When WetConstruction Speed
 Flagperson Ahead
Road Work

The Wrap Up

And that was your complete guide to Rhode Island road signs!

Now you know what to do when you see these on the roadways. 

Too many to memorize?

Don’t worry – you can just remember the color sequence and you’ll get a good idea of what the sign is telling you. 

But of course, you need more than just knowing what these signs are…

You have to make sure that you obey each one. 

It’s always best to be a safe driver!

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