Pentagonal signs are used almost exclusively in areas around a school or educational facility, and there are only a few different meanings that they carry. The specific intent of any pentagonal sign will generally be identified by the verbiage included on the sign, so you won’t have to guess at the meaning of any symbols or pictures.
Most often, a pentagon-shaped road sign will simply identify the presence of a school zone ahead, and it is intended to alert you to the fact that you need to slow down and be on the lookout for school children in the area. Many school children are not aware of the dangers of road traffic. Their only knowledge of traffic hazards comes in most cases, from the warnings of parents or teachers, who will generally stress that caution should be used when walking anywhere close to roadways – that same advice we’ve all been told countless times: look both ways.
A pentagonal road sign might also indicate a school crossing zone, which means you are right at an intersection where children will normally cross the road in order to approach the school grounds or to exit from them. Either way, it means that at certain times of the day, you should expect large numbers of school pedestrian traffic, and that means a lot of extra caution is called for. The last thing you want to do as a driver is to be involved in an accident involving a student at your neighborhood school.
The other usage for pentagonal road signs is to identify county road routes clearly, and these will generally have the county name depicted on the indicator, as well as the route number. These will be posted alongside the road you’re traveling on to help you find the route itself or to let you know that you are still traveling along that specific route.
What are the Most Common Types of Pentagonal Signs?
There are really only two different kinds of usage for which pentagonal road signs are used. The first is to provide advance warning that a school zone is up ahead, or that you are already in the school zone and there is a crossing used by pedestrians just ahead. The second main usage is to identify county route numbers so as to help drivers avoid getting lost and stay on the correct route while driving.
The school zone crossing sign will usually be a yellow sign, with two dark figures in the center, meant to indicate school children, and they will be crossing in between the lines of a crosswalk. In most cases, the figures will be carrying backpacks or other school supplies to identify them as students clearly, and to emphasize further the fact that you are in a school zone.
In some cases, you’ll see the two students walking together in a pentagonal sign, with a separate, rectangular-shaped sign just below with the word ‘Ahead’ printed in the middle, which of course, means that there is a school zone just ahead on the roadway. This too is an indicator that you should slow your vehicle down and be prepared to stop because there are likely to be pedestrians in the area.
What do Other Shapes Indicate?
From the time that you’re a young child, you learn that shapes have special meaning, and you learn to identify various objects by their shapes. Squares, circles, rectangles, and diamonds all have certain meanings in general and can give you a clue about the nature of any object. Traffic signs are no different, and they are all designed to have shapes that quickly communicate the nature of their information, and which help to maintain traffic safety everywhere.
The shapes and colors of traffic signs throughout the U.S. are universal, meaning that an orange-colored sign means the same in every state, just as an octagonal-shaped indicator means the same thing in all states. One of the first ways that we identify what type of traffic sign we are looking at is by its basic shape, and this helps you to adjust your driving technique, because it conveys information that you can quickly react to, even when visibility is poor.
You may not have realized this in the past, but the more sides an indicator has, the more critical the message that it’s trying to convey. That’s why a stop sign has eight sides – it’s trying to tell you that you are going to need to take definite and immediate action to stop your car up ahead.
A three-sided or triangle-shaped sign is one which is merely intending to advise caution on the roadway up ahead and is far less critical than the eight-sided stop sign. Ovals and circular-shaped signs convey messages of comfort, and squares and rectangles are intended to convey some kind of familiarity.
Here are the most common shapes used in the production of road signs, and what their specific meanings are:
Trapezoid – the trapezoid-shaped sign is used as a guide indicator for recreational areas, and to indicate route markers for national forests
Pennant – this sign warns that there is a no-passing zone ahead, which means you cannot go around the vehicle in front of you
Octagon – there is a stop area up ahead, for which you are required to halt your vehicle and then proceed when it is safe to do so
Triangle – an inverted triangle always means that you are required to yield the right-of-way to other traffic, either at an upcoming intersection or at a point where lanes will merge
Horizontal rectangle – rectangular signs generally provide some kind of guidance to motorists to help them safely navigate the roadway
Circle – a circular road indicator is always used to indicate a railroad which is up ahead, and that means there’s a possibility of a train crossing the road from either the left or the right
Pentagon – an indicator shaped like a pentagon will indicate a school zone up ahead or a school crosswalk in the immediate area. It can also be used to identify county route markers
Vertical shaped rectangle – these kinds of indicators are generally used as regulatory warnings or notices
Diamond – diamond-shaped signs are always used to provide warnings about road conditions up ahead
Route signs – these will have a variety of different shapes, but the most common one is the interstate route indicator, and that is a cutout shield.
Final Thoughts on Pentagon-Shaped Signs
Now that you’re aware that the shape of road signs carry a special meaning, you may find yourself looking more closely at the road signs you encounter while driving. This is a good thing because it will increase your awareness of the regulatory and helpful kinds of information that road indicators are intended to convey to you.
If you happen to be someone involved with local government or one of its agencies, you may need to place traffic control signs somewhere in your community so as to increase traffic awareness and promote safe driving habits. For any kind of traffic control signage which you may need, contact Worksafe Traffic Control Industries, Inc., where you’ll find literally every kind of indicator and accessory used today to keep drivers and pedestrians safe.
If you have any questions or would like to get in touch, please contact us!