When one roadway intersects with another, we have an intersection.
The purpose of the intersection signs is to warn you of the intersection and traffic that may move into your path of travel.
There are many different intersection signs. By looking at the sign and its symbol you can tell what kind of intersection you should expect ahead.
The most common intersection sign is the crossroad sign (W2-1).
It tells you that there is a 4-way intersection ahead. Normally, it’s an uncontrolled intersection.
An uncontrolled intersection means that there are no Yield or Stop signs to control the right-of-way and no traffic signals.
Question 1: When you see a crossroad sign, you should:
- A. Increase speed and cross the intersection quickly.
- B. Stop before entering the intersection.
- C. Slow down and look in all directions for crossing traffic.
CORRECT ANSWER: C. Always reduce speed and look for traffic that could cross your path.
What the Yellow Color Means
Remember, the yellow color on the sign means that it is warning sign.
It tells you to use caution when you approach the intersection. You don’t have to stop at an uncontrolled intersection, unless it is necessary.
If another vehicle reaches the uncontrolled intersection at the same time as you, you must yield if that vehicle approaches from the right.
If the warning sign is placed in a work zone, the background color on the sign is orange instead of yellow.
T-intersection and Side Road Sign
What is the difference between T-intersection and Side Road signs?
Well, it is easy to tell them apart if you look closely at the symbols.
Question 2: This sign warns of you of:
- A. A side road
- B. A divided highway
- C. A T-intersection
CORRECT ANSWER: A. This is a side road sign. You should watch for traffic exiting or entering the side road.
Question 3: This sign means:
- A. Side road ahead
- B. Lane reduction ahead
- C. T-intersection ahead
CORRECT ANSWER: C. This is the T-intersection sign.
Even Some State DMVs Get Lost
Even some state DMVs (like California) get lost when they describe these signs in their manuals.
While both signs warn you of a 3-way intersection, there are some important differences.
The first thing you must understand about these signs is that the symbols show you your direction of travel. You are always going from the bottom of the sign to the top. Shown by the vertical line.
When the horizontal line ends at the vertical line, you are on the through road. The horizontal line is a side road that ends at the through road. Traffic on the side road must yield to crossing traffic before entering the through road.
When the vertical line ends at a horizontal line, you are on the side road. In other words, your road ends and you must turn left or right ahead.
Let’s repeat that!
Question 4: After passing this sign you reach an intersection without signs or signals. You must:
- A. Insist on the right of way
- B. Turn left or right
- C. Turn around and go back
CORRECT ANSWER: B. The road you are on ends ahead. When your road ends, you must turn left or right.
Question 5: After passing this sign you reach an intersection without signs or signals. You must:
- A. Stop and yield to entering traffic
- B. Turn right
- C. Use caution and watch for traffic entering or exiting
CORRECT ANSWER: C. There is a side road ahead (3-way intersection). Use caution and be prepared for entering and exiting traffic.
More 3-Way Intersections & Intersection Signs
The symbol on this sign shows you that the side road ahead enters the highway at an angle. Expect vehicles entering or exiting to make wide turns.
If a side road enters from the left, the symbol on the sign will show a horizontal line to the left of the vertical line.
Another 3-way intersection sign is the Y-intersection. Like the name suggests, it tells you that the intersection ahead looks like a ‘Y’. The roadway you are on splits in two roadways, and you must bear either left or right through this intersection.
Look at the two signs below. Do they mean the same thing?
If you think they do, you should probably read this: How Knowing Colors & Shapes of Road Signs Helps You on the DMV Test.
Question 6: What does this sign mean?
- A. Two side roads ahead
- B. Roadway narrows ahead
- C. You must turn left or right ahead
CORRECT ANSWER: A. Double Side Roads means that there are two sequential intersections (side roads) ahead. In this case, one of each side of the through road.
Question 7: This sign means:
- A. Do not Enter
- B. Roundabout or Traffic Circle
- C. U-turn area
CORRECT ANSWER: B. This sign means that there is a roundabout or traffic circle ahead. Always yield to traffic already in the intersection.
Roundabouts and Traffic Circles
A modern roundabout is a circular intersection where drivers travel counterclockwise around a center island.
There are no traffic signals or stop signs at a modern roundabout. There are, however, often a Yield sign to remind drivers that they must yield to traffic in the roundabout.
Traffic circles, or rotaries, are much larger than modern roundabouts. Traffic circles can sometimes have stop signs or traffic signals within the intersection. You may not always see across the center island. If you travel straight through, you aren’t required to yield before entering.
Don’t confuse these traffic circles with the old-style calming circles found in residential areas. Neighborhood traffic calming circles are much smaller than modern roundabouts and often replace stop signs at four-way intersections.
Any of these three signs (Stop Ahead, Yield Ahead, Signal Ahead) may be used ahead of a controlled intersection.
They tell you what kind of control device to expect at the intersection.
If you see the Stop Ahead sign, there will be a Stop sign at the intersection and you must always stop. Yield to all traffic and go only when safe.
The Yield Ahead sign means you must slow down and yield to others. Go, if the way is clear. Stop only when necessary (drivers following you won’t expect you to stop, unless there is crossing traffic or pedestrians).
If the warning sign tells you that there is a traffic signal ahead, you should reduce speed and be prepared to obey signals.
Study Sheet: Warning Signs
Download this study sheet with common warning signs and see how many questions you can answer correctly: U.S. Warning Signs
Students often ask:
The T-intersection sign means that the road you are on ends ahead. You must prepare for a left or right turn. If there are more than one lane in your direction, make sure you are in the proper lane for your turn and start slowing down. You must stop and yield to vehicles on the through road.
You are not required to stop at an uncontrolled intersection. You must, however, yield to pedestrians crossing your path. You must also yield to vehicles arriving at the intersection before you do. Stop when necessary.
If you arrive at the intersection at the same time as another driver, the driver on the left should yield to the driver on the right. Proceed with caution and never insist on the right-of-way.
The sign means that there is a stop sign ahead. When you see this sign, start slowing down and make sure you can come to a smooth stop ahead.
The sign means that there is a yield sign ahead. When you see this sign, adjust your speed and make sure you can come to a smooth stop when it's necessary to let others go first.
The sign means that there is a traffic signal ahead. When you see this sign, adjust your speed and make sure you can come to a smooth stop - if it's necessary. Even if you have a green light, you should proceed with care.
Source for this article: Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways
Illustrations in this article: FreeDMVTest.org and Xzelenz Media