Road and Vehicle Signs


Main types of signs

Most of the signs you will see on New Zealand roads are international symbolic signs. This means they use the same shapes and symbols as traffic signs all over the world.

Symbolic signs are used because they are quick to read and easy for all drivers to understand.

New Zealand's signs are generally made of reflective material, making them easier to read at night.

The three types of sign

The signs on our roads can be divided into three types:

  1. compulsory signs
  2. warning signs
  3. information signs

You must be able to recognise and understand each type of sign.

Some examples of these signs are shown on the following pages.

Note: the examples shown are only a small sample of the symbolic signs used on our roads. They are intended to familiarise you with the three main types of symbolic sign rather than introduce you to all of the signs you will see when driving.

Important

Road authorities (for example, local councils) may have special rules for road users in specific areas. These restrictions should be indicated by signs or markings.

Compulsory signs

Compulsory signs tell you what you must or must not do.

They are usually red or blue.

Turn right sign

Turn right
Keep going straight ahead sign

Keep going
straight ahead
Keep left sign

Keep left
50 km/h sign

You must not go
faster than 50 km/h
No entry sign

You must not drive
into this road
 
No left turn sign

You must not
turn left
No U-turn sign

You must not
make a U-turn
Stop sign

You must stop
and then give way
Give way sign

You must slow down
(or stop, if necessary)
and give way
School patrol stop sign

School patrol – you
must stop

Some compulsory signs have red borders.

Keep left unless passing

You must keep left
unless passing
Bus lane

Bus lane that can also
be used by cycles,
motorcycles, mopeds
Bus only

Bus lane that can only
be used by buses
Transit lane

Transit lane, which can only
be used by passenger service
vehicles, cycles, motorcycles and
vehicles carrying at least the
number of people displayed
on the sign (eg T2 means two
or more people, T3 means
three or more people)

Warning signs

Warning signs alert you to a particular hazard on the road ahead. They warn you to be careful for your own safety, the safety of other road users or the safety of road workers carrying out maintenance.

There are two types of warning signs:

  1. those that warn you of a permanent hazard
  2. those that warn you of a temporary hazard.

Both types of sign are usually diamond shaped.

Permanent warning signs

Permanent warning signs are yellow and black.

Pedestrian crossing

Pedestrian crossing
Look out for children

Look out for children
 sign

Slippery surface
Road narrows

Road narrows

Temporary warning signs

Temporary warning signs are orange and black.

Road works sign

Road works
Left lane closed sign

Left lane closed
Slips sign

Slips
Gravel surface sign

Gravel surface
Stop on request sign

Stop on request
Other hazard sign

Other hazard
   
Note: this sign will always be displayed with another sign explaining the hazard, eg ‘Flooding’

Information signs

Information signs give you useful information, for example, the distance to the next town. They are all rectangular, but come in a range of different colours and sizes.

Turn left at any time with care sign

You may turn left, but first
give way to any pedestrians
and vehicles
 Highway distance sign

Shows the state highway
number and the distance in
kilometres to places listed
Directions sign
Shows directions to places
at the next intersection
Direction to information centre sign
Shows the way to the nearest
information centre
Highway directions sign
Shows the state highway number
and direction to places listed
 

 

Vehicle mounted signs

When oversize vehicles or vehicles carrying very large loads use our roads, they must have special signs mounted on them. They may also be accompanied by pilot vehicles to warn other road users to take care.

If you see one of these signs or pilot vehicles when you are driving, you should slow down. If the oversize vehicle or load is coming towards you, you may need to pull over and stop to allow it to pass.

Oversize sign

The sign below will be displayed on the oversize vehicle itself. If you see this sign when driving, you should drive cautiously. The vehicle may be very wide, long or high, or a combination of all three.

 Oversize sign

Oversize vehicle

Pilot vehicles

When a vehicle is carrying a large load, it may be accompanied by a pilot vehicle, with flashing yellow roof lights and a roof-mounted sign, to warn other road users.

If the pilot vehicle is in front of the load, the sign will either say ‘Long load follows’ or ‘Wide load follows’.

If the pilot vehicle is behind the load, the sign will either say ‘Long load ahead’ or ‘Wide load ahead’.

 Wide load follows sign

Wide load follows

Extremely large loads

If a vehicle’s load is extremely large, two pilot vehicles will travel ahead of it.

The first pilot vehicle will have flashing yellow and purple roof lights and a roof-top sign that says ‘Danger slow down’.

The second pilot vehicle will have flashing yellow roof lights and a roof-top sign that says ‘Wide load follows’.

Danger slow down sign

Danger slow down


Important

If you see an Oversize sign or a pilot vehicle with flashing lights, slow down and be prepared to pull over and stop.

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