Road and Vehicle 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:
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.
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 tell you what you must or must not do.
They are usually red or blue.
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:
Both types of sign are usually diamond shaped.
Permanent warning signs are yellow and black.
Temporary warning signs are orange and black.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
If you see an Oversize sign or a pilot vehicle with flashing lights, slow down and be prepared to pull over and stop.