The main signs are categorized into three meaning types: Guidance (white characters on blue in general – on green in expressways), Warning (black characters and symbols on yellow diamond), Regulation (red or blue circle, depending on prohibition or regulation)


The pennant–shaped yellow warning sign emphasizes, rather than replaces, the rectangular regulatory “DO NOT PASS” sign. The pennant is located on the left side of the road and points to the beginning of the no-passing zone (solid yellow line in your lane).

Diamond–shaped signs are also caution or warning signs. They are normally black on yellow, but when they are black on orange, they warn of conditions for construction or maintenance areas. When you see one of these signs, drive with extra care. One of the most important caution signs is the “STOP AHEAD” sign. It is placed far ahead of a stop sign when the driver’s view of the stop sign is blocked by a curve or other objects.


Guide and Informational signs give directions, routes, distances and indicate services. Interstate, U.S. and N.C. highways are numbered and marked. Odd-numbered highways generally run north and south, and even-numbered highways generally run east and west.

Regulatory Signs

The eight-sided (or octagonal) sign is the stop sign. The word “STOP” is printed in white on a red background. The octagonal shape is used for stop signs only. The stop sign is usually posted six to 50 feet from the intersection. When you approach this sign, the law requires you to come to a FULL stop. Do not proceed to move again until you are sure the way is clear. When a stop sign, stoplight, flashing light, or other traffic-control device requires a vehicle to stop at an intersection, the driver must stop at the appropriately marked stop line. If there is no stop line or marked crosswalk, the driver must stop before entering the intersection where he/she has a view of the intersecting street. Rectangular and square–shaped signs, which are normally black and white or red and white, are also used to show speed limits and other regulations. These signs will also have messages such as “NO U-TURN” or “KEEP RIGHT EXCEPT TO PASS.” Failure to obey these signs is unsafe as well as a violation of the traffic laws.