How many types of road signs are there

11 minute read Published on Mar 18, 2024 by BrokerLink Communications

Dividing Sign isolated on clean blue sky

If you want to become a safer driver, one of the best ways to do so is to expand your knowledge of road signs to ensure that you abide by them at all times. There are a wide variety of signs that you should know in Canada. We go through a list of them so that you can become a better driver.

What are the general laws around driving in Canada?

Before we dive into the specifics of road signs, let’s provide a quick overview of the general laws, rules, and regulations around driving in Canada:

  • Cars drive on the right hand side of the road
  • Drivers pass others on the left hand side of the road
  • Pedestrians always have the right of way at pedestrian crossings
  • All passengers in a car must wear a seat belt
  • You cannot use your mobile phone while driving, with the exception of a hands-free system
  • Always use indicator lights when turning, merging, or changing lanes
  • The use of radar detectors is prohibited while driving
  • Drivers must carry a valid driver’s licence, vehicle registration documents, and car insurance documents at all times

Please note that all drivers in Canada are required to purchase car insurance if they want to legally drive on the road. Insurance requirements vary between provinces in Canada. In Ontario, drivers must have the following four coverages:

On top of these mandatory coverages, many motorists choose to add extra protection to their policies, such as accident forgiveness coverage, comprehensive car coverage, and collision car insurance.

Types of road signs in Canada

As a driver in Canada, you must obey all rules and regulations of the road, including obeying the road signs in front of you.

Road signs in Canada are very similar to those in the United States. There are several categories of signs, including regulatory, high occupancy vehicles, warnings, temporary conditions, and information signs. Each sign often has its shape, colour, arrows, or typeface to distinguish them from one another clearly.

Regulatory signs

Regulatory signs provide directions to drivers. These signs are typically square or rectangular in shape and have a white or black background and either white or black lettering.

However, at times, they may also have a coloured border and be a circle or square shape, such as a red circle border or a green square border. If you see a sign with a red border, a picture of an activity, and a red line through that photo, it means that the depicted activity is prohibited. Examples of regulatory signs include no parking signs, keep right signs, and non-permitted direction signs.

High occupancy vehicle signs

High occupancy vehicle (HOV) signs are another type of sign. They typically appear on the sides of roads or highways, and they denote that a certain lane is only for vehicles carrying a specified minimum number of passengers. Most commonly, buses or passenger vehicles with two or more people are allowed to drive in lanes with HOV signs.

Warning signs

Warning signs are a type of road sign that makes drivers aware of certain dangers or hazards on the road. These are usually shaped like a diamond and yellow or even fluorescent yellow in colour.

Temporary condition signs

Temporary condition signs are intended to warn drivers of temporary conditions on the road, such as a construction site, lane closure, detour, or traffic control officers. Like warning signs, temporary condition signs are usually diamond-shaped, but these signs have an orange background with black text or symbols.

Information signs

Lastly, information signs give drivers basic information about distances, street names, attractions, nearby facilities, or directions. These signs come in many shapes and colours, though the most common is a green background with white text.

A list of road signs all drivers should know

Now that you’re aware of the general categories of road signs that are out there, it’s time to run through a list of the specific road signs that all drivers should know in Canada:

stop road sign

Stop sign

A stop sign is perhaps the most recognizable road sign among drivers. Stop signs are octagon shaped and have a red background with a white border and white lettering. If you are driving and come across a stop sign at an intersection, you must come to a complete stop. If there is a line marked on the pavement, stop at the designated line.

school zone road sign

School zone sign

A school zone sign has five sides and has a fluorescent yellow or green background with a black border and black lettering. It warns drivers that they are approaching a school zone, and as such, should slow down and proceed with caution.

playground road sign

Playground sign

Similar to a school zone sign, a playground road sign is bright yellow with a black background and a black symbol depicting a person engaged in a recreational activity. These signs are diamond shaped.

yield road sign

Yield sign

A yield sign is a white triangular sign with a thick red border. This type of sign means that drivers must stop and yield for other traffic going through an intersection before proceeding.

railway crossing road sign

Railway crossing sign

A railway crossing sign is an X-shaped sign featuring a white background and a thin red border. It warns drivers that there is a railway track up ahead and thus, they should be prepared to stop if necessary.

maximum speed road sign

Maximum speed limit sign

A maximum speed limit sign states the maximum speed that a car can travel at on a certain road or stretch of the road. These signs are usually rectangular with a white background and black lettering.

turn left road sign turn right road sign u turn road sign

Turn left, turn right, u-turn signs

Turn left, turn right, and u-turn signs are typically diamond shaped and yellow in colour with black symbols. They let drivers know they can turn left, right, or make a u-turn on a road.

no turn road sign

No turn sign

A no turn sign lets a driver know that they cannot turn onto a certain road. These signs are usually square with black symbols and a red circle with a red line through it. No-turn signs may sometimes be accompanied by an intersection symbol or a period of time, implying that a driver is unable to turn in a certain direction when the traffic light is red or at certain times of the day.

one way road sign

One way sign

A one-way sign lets a driver know that a certain road only allows cars to travel in one direction. The sign will be placed in a way that clearly shows what direction that is. One-way signs are rectangular in shape with a black background and a white arrow.

no entry road sign

No entry sign

A no-entry road sign is a square-shaped sign with a white background, a red circle, and a white line through it. This sign means that you are prohibited from entering a certain road.

two way road sign

Two-way sign

A two-way road sign lets drivers know that they are approaching a street where two-way traffic is in effect. These signs are usually put on one-way streets as drivers get near a two-way street. They are diamond-shaped with a yellow background, a black border, and black arrows pointing in opposite directions.

no parking road sign

No parking sign

A no parking sign is a square-shaped white sign with a black border, a black uppercase P, and a red circle with a line through it over the P. This means that a driver cannot park anywhere beneath the sign.

no stopping road sign

No stopping sign

A no stopping sign is square-shaped with a black background, a white border, a black eight sided stop sign symbol, and a red circle with a line through it placed overtop of the stop sign symbol. It means that a driver is prohibited from stopping their vehicle in this area.

weight limit road sign

Weight limit sign

Weight limit road signs are usually rectangular with a white background, a black border, and black lettering. The sign will clearly state the maximum weight limit for vehicles on the road.

snowmobile trail road sign

Snowmobile trail sign

A snowmobile trail sign is a square-shaped sign with a white background, a black border, a black snowmobile symbol, and a thick green circle around the snowmobile. It denotes that snowmobiles are allowed on a certain road.

right lane ending road sign

Left lane / right lane ending sign

A left or right lane ending sign is a diamond-shaped sign with a yellow background, black border, and black symbols. It lets the driver know that either the right or the left lane is ending and that they need to merge into another lane to proceed ahead.

slight curve road sign

Slight curve sign

A slight curve sign is a diamond-shaped sign with a yellow background, a black border, and a black arrow that is curved. This type of sign implies that there is a slight bend or curve in the road ahead.

merge lane road sign

Merge lane sign

A merge lane sign is a diamond-shaped yellow sign with a black border and a black arrow. It lets a driver know that the road they are on is merging into another road ahead.

road narrows road sign

Road narrows sign

A road narrows sign is a diamond-shaped yellow sign with a black border and parallel black lines that get closer to one another at the top. This is to warn drivers that a road narrows ahead.

 t-crossing road sign

T crossing sign

A T crossing sign is diamond-shaped with a yellow background, a black border, and black lines in the shape of a T. The T-shape denotes that an intersection where three roads meet is ahead.

roundabout road sign

Roundabout sign

A roundabout road sign is diamond-shaped with a yellow background, a black border, and three curved black areas arranged in a circle. This sign warns drivers that there is a roundabout ahead.

narrow structure ahead road sign

Narrow structure ahead sign

A narrow structure ahead sign or narrow bridge ahead sign is diamond-shaped with a yellow background, a black border, and two black lines that are wide at the top and bottom and narrow in the middle. This sign lets a driver know that there is a narrow structure, such as a bridge, ahead.

road slippery when wet road sign

Road slippery when wet sign

A road is slippery when wet is a diamond-shaped sign with a yellow background, a black border, and a black symbol of a car with curved lines behind it. Sometimes, these signs also contain small black circles around the car to symbolize rain or snow. The purpose of this sign is to let drivers know that a certain road or section of pavement is slippery when wet.

pedestrain crossing road sign

Pedestrian crossing sign

A pedestrian crossing sign is a yellow, diamond-shaped sign with a black border and a black symbol of a person with a line beneath it. This sign alerts drivers to the potential presence of pedestrians so that they know to slow down in the area.

School zone signs in Ontario

School zone signs are one of the most important road signs in Canada, as they make drivers aware that they are driving near a school and thus need to proceed with caution. The reality is that the presence of a school means more children who may be at a higher risk of being involved in a car accident due to their small size.

Thus, it is of the utmost importance that all drivers slow down and focus completely on the road when driving near a school, especially at certain times of day, like the morning, lunchtime, and afternoon.

Please note that speed limits in school zones in Ontario are typically reduced. For example, if the school is in a residential area where most streets have a speed limit of 40 kilometres per hour, the speed limit for the street in front of the school will be 30 kilometres per hour.

When driving near a school, make sure that you always yield to pedestrians. To do this, you must focus all of your attention on the road to make sure that you become aware of pedestrians as soon as they appear. Keep an eye out for children playing on the sidewalk, school buses picking up or dropping off children, or even faculty, parents, or staff walking to or parking their vehicles.

It is also worth noting that there are specific regulations when driving around school buses. For instance, when driving on a road without a median strip, drivers in both directions must stop for a school bus when its red lights are flashing.

When driving on a road with a median strip, only cars following behind the bus are required to stop when its red lights are flashing. Also, remember that if you are stopping behind a bus, your car must be at least 20 metres from the back of the bus.

Fines for disobeying school zone signs in Ontario

The fines for disobeying school zone signs in Ontario vary depending on how far above the speed limit you are travelling. That said, the fines are double the fines for normal speeding tickets.

Typically, driving 10 kilometres over the speed limit will result in a $95 fine, 20 kilometres over the limit will result in a $180 fine and three demerit points, 30 kilometres over the speed limit will result in a $450 fine and four demerit points, and 40 kilometres over the speed limit will result in a $595 fine and four demerit points.

Construction zone signs in Ontario

Construction zone signs must also be adhered to in Ontario. Please note that a construction zone is clearly marked with various types of traffic control signage, including pylons and a physical sign. The pylons or signs will be arranged in a way that clearly indicates to the driver where they can and cannot drive.

As with school zones, speed limits in construction zones are usually reduced. For example, most speed limits in construction zones on highways will be between 50 kilometres per hour and 70 kilometres per hour. You can face fines of up to $500 for speeding in a construction zone, as well as up to three demerit points.

The importance of obeying road signs and maintaining a clean driving record

Now that you know about the different road signs in Canada and what they mean, it’s important to make sure that you abide by them at all times. Failing to abide by a road sign, such as a maximum speed limit sign, can have all kinds of negative consequences.

For example, you could receive a serious fine, have your driver’s licence suspended, or receive demerit points. Speeding tickets also end up on your driving record, which means that they can lead to an increase in your insurance rates.

One of the best ways to keep your insurance rates down is to maintain a clean driving record for as long as possible. Not only do drivers with clean records benefit from lower rates, but they might even qualify for safe driver discounts. Remember that a clean record is one that is free from driving infractions, like accidents, DUIs, traffic tickets, and more.

As insurance experts, the best tip that we can offer you if you want to save money on car insurance is to keep your record clean by driving safely, defensively, and responsibly at all times. What does safe driving look like? Give others space, obey all posted road signs, and drive the speed limit.

Contact BrokerLink

If you want to learn more about road signs in Canada or other tips on how to make your long-distance drive safer or share the road with bicycles, contact BrokerLink today. We are auto insurance experts who will give you all kinds of safe driving tips to help keep you safe and secure on the road.

As car insurance experts, we can explain what types of auto insurance will protect you and even provide you with a guide for first time drivers. BrokerLink specializes in personalized car insurance that is tailor-made to each of our customers. And we’re not just talking about coverage; we’re also talking about the budget. We never want your car insurance plan to break the bank, so we will do everything possible to ensure you never overpay for auto insurance again.

Reach out to us today to request a free insurance quote or give us a call if you want to learn more about how different factors can impact insurance rates, like driving infractions including red light camera tickets.

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