Fortunately, pretty much every driver on the road knows what a stop sign and a yield sign look like. However, there are many road signs posted in America and around the world that aren’t quite so clear.
History of Road Signs
Road signs actually date back to the Roman Empire, when stone columns were sculpted through the Empire to let people know the distance to Rome. Signs became more popular during the Middle Ages, when signs were posted to provide directions to cities and town in the region. Signs expanded and became essential as the automobile industry developed, and modern signs are made of metal with reflective sheeting to increase visibility.
Although most road signs in America are pretty straightforward today, there are a few odd ones that definitely stand out in the crowd.
One of the more confusing road signs posted is the “No Motor Vehicles Allowed” sign, which is typically a white circular sign with a red trim and pictures of a car and motorcycle. Many people misinterpret this sign to mean that only cars and motorcycles are allowed on that particular road. The confusion likely stems from the fact that there is no red strike-through line running through the pictured vehicles.
About half of motorists are confused by signs that read “Give Way.” Some people have interpreted this sign to mean that slow down or even to roll down one’s windows to listen for oncoming traffic!
However, to give way means to slow down or stop if necessary to avoid a collision and to wait until it is safe to proceed. You’ll typically see these signs at stop signs with multiple directions of travel, roads that involve turning across the path of an oncoming vehicle at an intersection, and roads that involve turning from a terminating road onto the ongoing road at a T-intersection.
Drivers have frequently misinterpreted “No Waiting” signs as meaning that they can’t enter or park in a particular area. The purpose of these signs is to allow drivers to quickly and temporarily stop and pull over to drop off or pick up a passenger, for example. However, drivers are not allowed to leave their vehicles parked for any amount of time longer than a quick drop off or pick up would take.
If you travel around the world, road signs become even more confusing in other countries and languages. Some countries have signs for circle interchanges, roundabouts, and wildlife that will appear completely foreign to American drivers. If you’re planning to drive internationally, make sure to read about local driving tips in your destination country before getting behind the wheel.
Have you come across any road signs lately that are nothing short of baffling? Share your confusing road sign story with us!