Traffic Signs, Laws & Regulations

Written By  |  Doreen Almirol  |  20+ years CA DMV Licensed Driving Instructor


Navigating the roads is like deciphering a language of symbols and signs. While most drivers are familiar with the basics, there are certain traffic signs that often leave motorists scratching their heads.

In this article, we’ll shed light on some of the most common and misunderstood traffic signs, unraveling the mysteries behind these road symbols to enhance your understanding and promote safer driving.

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ROUNDABOUT SIGN | The Spiral Conundrum

Misunderstanding: Many drivers approach roundabouts with uncertainty, unsure of who has the right of way and how to navigate the circular intersection.

Clarification: The roundabout sign signifies an upcoming circular intersection where traffic flows counterclockwise. Yield to pedestrians and vehicles to your left already in the roundabout.  Enter to your right when there is a safe gap.

YIELD SIGN | A Gentle Reminder

Misunderstanding: Yield signs are often misunderstood, with drivers unsure of when to yield and to whom.

Clarification: Yield signs indicate that you must give the right of way to traffic on the intersecting road. If the way is clear, proceed with caution. If not, come to a complete STOP while yielding to other vehicles.

STOP SIGN | The Rolling Dilemma

Misunderstanding: Some drivers treat stop signs as yield signs, rolling through without coming to a complete stop.

Clarification: A stop sign means exactly that – come to a complete stop before proceeding. A full stop is about 2-3 seconds of no movement. Failing to fully stop, not only risks safety, but can lead to traffic violations.

SCHOOL ZONE SIGNS | Slowing Down for Safety


Misunderstanding: Some drivers overlook the reduced speed limits in school zones, putting the safety of students at risk.

Clarification: School zone signs indicate reduced speed limits during specific times. Always adhere to these limits, as they are designed to protect children in the vicinity.

NO U-TURN SIGN | Breaking the Circle


Misunderstanding: Drivers often make U-turns where prohibited, ignoring the red circle and arrow.

Clarification: The “No U-Turn” sign prohibits making a U-turn at that location. Pay attention to these signs to avoid traffic violations and ensure safety.

ONE-WAY SIGN | Directional Awareness

Misunderstanding: Some drivers inadvertently enter one-way streets in the wrong direction.

Clarification: The one-way sign indicates that traffic must flow in a single direction. Pay close attention to these signs to avoid wrong-way driving.

MERGE SIGN | Harmonizing Traffic Flow

Misunderstanding: Merging can be a source of confusion, with drivers unsure of when to yield and when to proceed.

Clarification: Merge signs signal an upcoming merge point. Adjust your speed, signal, and merge into traffic smoothly, alternating with other drivers when necessary.

CROSSWALK SIGN | Pedestrian Priority

Misunderstanding: Some drivers fail to yield to pedestrians at crosswalks, risking their safety.

Clarification: The crosswalk sign indicates a designated pedestrian crossing. Always yield to pedestrians waiting to cross or already in the crosswalk.

Understanding the language of traffic signs is crucial for safe and efficient road navigation. By unraveling the mysteries behind commonly misunderstood signs, drivers can enhance their awareness, contribute to smoother traffic flow, and, most importantly, promote road safety.

Remember, the road signs are there to guide us – let’s decode them together for a safer journey on the open road.

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