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California Driver Handbook
Traffic Lights and Signs
Pedestrian signals show words or pictures similar to the following examples:
“Walk” or “Walking Person” lights mean it is legal to cross the street.
“Don’t Walk” or “Raised Hand” lights mean you may not start crossing the street.
Flashing “Don’t Walk” or Flashing “Raised Hand” lights mean do not start crossing the street because the traffic signal is about to change. If the flashing starts after you have already started to cross, finish crossing the street as quickly as possible.
Countdown signals indicate how many seconds remain for crossing, and allows pedestrians the flexibility to speed up if the crossing phase is about to expire.
Some signals may provide a beeping or chirping sound or a verbal message. These signals are designed to help blind or visually impaired pedestrians cross the street.
At many traffic signals, you need to push the pedestrian push button to activate the “Walk” or “Walking Person” signal. If there are no pedestrian signals, obey the traffic signal lights.
The shape and color of a sign gives you a clue about the information contained on the sign. Here are the common shapes used:
An eight-sided red STOP sign means you must make a full “STOP” whenever you see a STOP sign. Stop before entering a crosswalk or at a white limit line which is a wide white line painted on the street. If a crosswalk or limit line is not painted on the street, stop at the corner.
A three-sided red YIELD sign means you must slow down and be ready to stop, if necessary, to let any vehicle, bicyclist, or pedestrian pass before you proceed.
A square red and white regulatory sign means you must follow the sign’s instruction. For example, the DO NOT ENTER sign means do not enter a road or off ramp where the sign is posted, usually on a freeway off ramp. The WRONG WAY sign may or may not be posted with the DO NOT ENTER sign. If you see one or both of these signs, drive to the side of the road and stop. You are going against traffic. When safe, back out or turn around and return to the road you were on. At night if you are going the wrong way, the road reflectors will shine red in your headlights.
If a sign has a red circle with a red line through it, it always means “NO.” The picture inside the circle shows what you can not do. The sign may be shown with or without words.
A yellow and black circular
sign means you are approaching
X-shaped signs with a white
background that states
means you must slow down and be
ready to stop, if necessary, to let any
Five-sided signs mean you are near a school. Stop if children are in
A five-sided sign means you are near a school. Stop if children are in the crosswalk.
A four-sided diamond-shaped sign warns you of specific road conditions and dangers ahead. Many warning signs are diamond-shaped.
A white rectangular sign means you must obey important rules.
Some warning signs have a florescent yellow-green background. These signs warn of conditions related to pedestrians, bicyclists, schools, playgrounds, school buses, and school passenger loading zones.
Obey all warning signs regardless of their shape.