Most Driver Education Programs will tell you defensive driving is best described as being totally aware of what’s going on around you . You may be doing a good job of making your intentions as obvious as you can to the rest of the world. But are you as aware as you can be about what the other drivers coming at you are doing or going to do in the next few seconds.
To be as safe as you can be a good technique to help put you inside the other drivers mind is to know what road signs he is seeing while he approaches you. Sure that big red sign with white lettering means your coming up on a stop sign, and odds are from the back side you will recognize it as an octagonal shaped sign ( eight sided).
How about the other signs along the road. Do you know that their unique shape will help you to identify their purpose thusly giving you a pretty good idea of what you can expect from the cars approaching them.
Further more are you aware that there is national standardization of all road signs. A school crossing sign in Minnesota is going to be exactly like one in Arizona. Once you have learned the meaning of the different shapes of signs, you can go anywhere in the country and be able to recognize all road signs. Granted from the back side you won’t be able to identify the exact information on a sign. But you will be able to determine if it is an informational sign, a warning sign, or a specific instruction sign.
Further standardization indicates the distance a sign is from what it is indicating, example, a sign to indicate a pending stop sign will be posted the same distance from the stop sign in all states. The spacing, quantity, and type of information required for most situations is a highly regulated issue. In all states their Department of Transportation is required to follow these standardized guidelines. Especially if they wish to limit their liability when accidents happen. Many lawsuits have taken place over the placement, or lack of placement of correct signs.
To help you identify the different shapes a list of shapes and their meaning will follow:
Warning: A diamond shaped sign, which will indicate many different things. Such issues as Deer Crossing, S-Curves ahead, Curve, or possible a tractor on the road ahead. This shape is also used to warn of an impending stop sign, or controlled intersection ahead. The list is long for warning sign, but from the back you can assume there is something to be concerned about, beware.
School Crossing: A pentagon (5 sided) shaped sign with the point to the top indicates the presents of school children. The front side is a new florescent yellow/green color, but from the back it is a distinctive shape that will always indicate a school close by. Watch for children.
Railroad: A round sign will indicate a railroad crossing ahead. It’s a warning to watch for trains because a train always has the right of way over road traffic. Remember they can’t stop for you. A sign shaped like an “X” will be located at all railroad crossings. The round one indicates your approaching, and the “X” means your there. Both of these signs can be posted together.
No Passing: A pennant shaped sign, like a football game pennant but yellow, will always indicate it is unsafe to pass. If the apposing driver is approaching a sign shaped like a pennant hopefully he won’t pull out into your lane to pass someone.
Informative: A rectangle, or square sign will indicate information. Some examples are No parking, speed limit, right turn only, truck weight limits, loading zone. There are many other, but these will give you the idea.
Yield: A triangle with the point down will always be a yield sign.
State or County Road Number: There is some flexibility on this issue, some state use the shape of a shield, while others have their own distinct shape. As this type of sign will have little affect as to what the other guy is going to do being aware of what it means from the back side is not as important as the other shapes.
Stop: The last and most recognizable sign of them all, an octagon (8 sided) will always be a stop sign. Sitting at an intersection you can always tell if cross traffic will be stopping too by the shape of their sign.
Using this information you will be able to identify what the other driver is most likely going to do. Very helpful information in your efforts to be a safe and courteous driver. Remember part of defensive driving is to be ready for the unexpected as well as expected movements of traffic around you. Never assume that just because there is correct signs for the other driver that he will do as the signs are directing him. If your prepared for his mistakes you may avoid a fender bender or worse.
For more detailed information about the many different road signs and highway markings be sure to visit the following web site.