Do you want to ace the Virginia permit test?
Do you want to keep your driving record clean?
Do you want to be a safe and responsible driver?
Then you must know about the Virginia road signs.
But knowing is not enough — you must make sure you obey them all.
This is why, here, we’re going to give you a complete guide on the following:
- Traffic signals
- Traffic signs
- Pavement markings
So shall we begin?
Virginia Traffic Signals
Let’s start with the traffic signal.
You’re definitely familiar with it and its three colors — red, yellow, and green.
However, the meaning may vary depending on whether the light is steady or flashing. You may also encounter arrow signals or a signal that’s out of service.
Let’s go through this one by one.
|Steady Red Light
|A red signal means you have to stop. This requires you to stay behind a stop line, a crosswalk, or before entering an intersection.
Usually, you can turn right even when the light is red, but you must first make a complete stop. You can proceed after looking both ways and yielding the right-of-way to pedestrians and other vehicles.
Left turns are only possible on a red signal if you’re coming from a one-way street and entering another one.
However, if there is a “No Turn on Red” sign at the intersection, neither turn is allowed.
|You cannot proceed in the direction the arrow points except when the following signs are present:
Right on Red Arrow After Stop
Left on Red Arrow After Stop
|Flashing Red Signal or Arrow
|Unlike a steady red signal, you can proceed if the red light is flashing. However, you must first come to a complete stop and yield the right-of-way to other vehicles and pedestrians. The same applies at a railroad crossing, even if a train isn’t approaching.
|Steady Yellow Light or Arrow
|The main message of a yellow signal is that it’s about to turn red. So slow down and stop if you haven’t entered the intersection.
But that’s not a hard and fast rule — you can proceed (but carefully) if stopping before the intersection isn’t safe.
One thing you shouldn’t do is attempt to beat the red light by speeding up.
|Flashing Yellow Light and Arrow
|You’ll typically find flashing yellow signals in places with hazardous conditions. The best thing to do is slow down and proceed carefully.
A flashing yellow arrow means you can make the turn if the road is clear. You must yield the right-of-way to any pedestrians or oncoming traffic.
Sometimes, the light switches from a red signal to a flashing yellow arrow while someone’s in the intersection. Turn after the person gets to the other side.
|Green Light and Arrow
|A green light means go (whether a steady light or an arrow). You must still yield to oncoming traffic and pedestrians, but you can continue.
|Sometimes, you’ll encounter a traffic signal that isn’t working. In these situations, make a complete stop before you get to the intersection. It must be treated like an all-way stop.
However, directions from a law enforcement officer or portable signals take precedence.
Lane Use Signals
In Virginia, some lanes are reversible. And lane use signals, located above the lane, tell you which lane you can or can’t use.
|You cannot use this lane. This is for traffic going in the opposite direction as you.
Yellow X or Diagonal Downward Arrow
|Shift to a different lane. It is about to turn into a Red X.
|The lane is usable.
|You can use the lane only if you’re heading in the direction the arrow points.
Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons (PHB)
Some intersections don’t have traffic signals. Instead, you’ll find Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons (PHBs).
They’re similar to traffic signals, but pedestrians have to activate them. There’s also an order for the lights.
Here’s what to expect:
- The yellow light at the bottom flashes when someone activates the PHB.
- Motorists have to begin slowing down when the yellow light turns steady.
- Two steady red lights will then appear on top, signaling drivers to stop. Simultaneously, a WALK symbol activates to indicate the pedestrian should cross.
- The WALK signal begins counting down while the two red lights in the PHB start flashing. That means drivers can resume driving (carefully), and the crosswalk is clear.
Virginia Traffic Signs
Traffic signals are easy enough to memorize.
However, there are just too many traffic signs.
We’ll try to make it easier for you by detailing the different categories.
- Regulatory signs
- Warning signs
- Work zone signs
Moreover, we’ll also mention what the sign colors and shapes mean. This way, you’ll have an idea of which category it belongs to.
Traffic signs come in different colors — and each gives clues about its purpose.
- RED and WHITE are Stop, Yield, and restriction signs (No U-Turn, No Left Turn, No Entry, etc.).
- BLACK and WHITE emphasize traffic regulations, like speed limits and Do Not Pass signs.
- YELLOW is the predominant color in warning signs, although some are YELLOW/GREEN.
- GREEN, BLUE, and BROWN (with WHITE markings) signs direct you to destinations, service facilities, and cultural interests, respectively.
- ORANGE and PINK (with BLACK markings) signs are for work and incident zones, respectively.
Virginia road signs don’t only vary in color — they come in different shapes, too!
Here are the five shapes to expect:
|Octagonal (8 sides)
|There’s only one traffic sign with this shape — the Stop Sign. As its name implies, you must stop behind a stop line, crosswalk, or curb. You can proceed once the way is clear.
If an “All Ways” or “4 Way” sign is underneath it, it means all vehicles entering that intersection must come to a complete stop before entering.
Typically, the driver that arrives first has the right-of-way. However, if two vehicles get there simultaneously, the one on the left yields to the one on the right.
|Only a Yield sign has an inverted triangle shape.
Reduce your speed as you approach the intersection and yield the right-of-way to pedestrians, bicycles, or vehicles.
|Horizontal rectangles usually provide information or directions. Vertical ones focus on regulations.
|Most warning signs are diamond-shaped. Exercise caution when you see one.
|Pentagon (5 sides)
|A pentagon-shaped sign means you’re entering a school zone or approaching a school crossing.
As you look at the sign shapes, take note of the colors as well.
As you can see, rectangles with white and black are regulatory signs. Yellow diamonds are warning signs. And so on and so forth.
Okay, now let’s go over the road sign categories.
Regulatory signs help enforce traffic regulations.
Watch out for these when you drive in Virginia as they tell you what you can or can’t do in specific areas.
Here are some examples:
Do Not Enter
No Right Turn
No Left Turn
No Turn on Red
Do Not Pass
Left Turn Yield on Green
Lane Use Control
High Occupancy Vehicle
Do you wonder why warning signs are so brightly colored? They’re supposed to catch your attention.
This is because they warn you about possible hazards.
|Reduced Speed Limit Ahead
No Passing Zone
|Divided Highway Begins
|Divided Highway Ends
|Slippery When Wet
Low Clearance Sign
|Tractors and Farm Equipment
|Bicycle Crossing / Bike Path
|School Zone / School Crossing
|Right Curve — Side Road
|Sharp Right Turn
Sharp Right and Left Turns
Right and Left Curves
Right Curve with Safe Speed Indicator
|Low Ground Railroad Crossing
|Railroad Crossbuck and Flashing Lights
|Crossbuck, Flashing Lights, and Gate
Work Zone Signs
While regulatory and warning signs are all around Virginia roadways, work zone signs aren’t.
You only see them if you pass through an area with highway workers. Because of the ongoing work, you must slow down and be alert.
Here are some signs you’ll encounter:
Rough Roads, Bumps, or Uneven Lanes
Road Construction Ahead
Flashing Arrow Boards Point to the Direct You Must Go
Photo Speed Enforcement
Traffic Control Devices
Rumble Strips Ahead
Virginia Pavement Markings
Finally, let’s look at the pavement markings.
As you might tell, these are not posted signs. Instead, these are painted onto the road itself.
Now, Virginia’s pavement markings usually come in three colors: red, yellow, and white.
If you see a red-painted curb, it means you cannot park there.
Virginia also uses red reflectors to mark roads that you shouldn’t enter. But these are placed in a specific way — so you only see them when going in the wrong direction.
Yellow center lines indicate that you’re on a two-way street. If it’s broken, you can pass other vehicles.
Sometimes, you’ll see a combination of solid and broken yellow lines. You can only pass if the broken lines are on your side.
If you’re on the side with a solid yellow line, you cannot pass. You can only cross the line if passing pedestrians, bicyclists, and those on skateboards or scooters. And you can only do so if the other lane is clear.
Double solid yellow lines mean passing is not allowed for both lanes. The only exception is when you’re turning left. You can also cross it if passing pedestrians, bicycles, skateboarders, and scooters (only if the other lane is clear).
White lines separate traffic going the same way.
If the lines are broken, changing lanes is allowed. However, you must ensure it’s safe before proceeding. If the white lines are solid, you cannot change lanes.
You’ll also find solid white lines at the edge of the pavement, separating traffic and the curb. Virginia uses them for stop lines and crosswalks.
Sometimes, you’ll see a white arrow on the road. Whether straight or curved, it indicates where you can proceed if you continue using that lane.
If it comes with the word only, only use the lane if you’re heading in the direction of the arrow. Otherwise, you must switch to another lane.
Double solid white lines separate designated lanes from conventional ones. You can only enter and exit them at specific points. These are typically for high-occupancy vehicles and the like.
A series of triangles across the road is a Yield Line. As its name indicates, it marks where you must stop to give other vehicles the right of way.
Shared center turning lanes have two parallel solid yellow lines with broken ones inside. There can also be curved arrows. Vehicles from either side can only use that lane if they are preparing to turn left.
An image of a bicycle with a chevron arrow underneath it indicates a shared lane — meaning bicyclists can use it with other vehicles.
However, you cannot use a bicycle lane with an image of a bicycle without the chevron marking. Of course, this is unless you are riding one.
Some intersections have bicycle boxes, which cyclists can move into. Vehicles are not allowed to enter the box when stopped.
With these bicycle boxes, you also cannot turn right on a red light.
A diamond in the center of a lane indicates that it’s only for High Occupancy Vehicles, such as buses, carpools, and vanpools.
The Wrap Up
And there you go!
All you need to know about the Virginia road signs.
Sure, you probably already knew about the traffic signals.
But now you can also distinguish between regulatory, warning, and work zone signs.
What’s more, you have a guide for all the various pavement markings in Virginia.
So if you learn them all, you’re sure to ace the permit test, have a clean driving record, and be a safe driver.
All in one.