Rules of the Road
CAUTION UPDATING
To Road Traffic Laws as at 1 March 2013

Driving School Ireland,
Phone 071 9162311 or 087 6688797

Section 6 a:

Traffic signs and road markings

You must know what traffic signs and road markings mean before you attempt to drive on a public road. This section focuses on the signs that you as a driver will come across most often. Sections 21 to 25 covers a range of the most important signs currently used on Irish roads.


You must know and understand these signs and respond correctly when you see them on the road.

Traffic signs and roadway markings are divided into three broad categories:

  • Regulatory,
  • Warning, and
  • Information.

Sometimes signs from different categories are used together to improve road safety.


Different types of signs are used for bus and cycle lanes, motorways and railway crossings and bridges. There is also a special series of warning signs for road works. These are all outlined at the end of this section.


Regulatory Signs

These indicate what you must do under road traffic law, so all road users must obey them. Regulatory signs are divided into a number of groups:

  • Upright signs,
  • Road markings and
  • Traffic lights.

This section concentrates on regulatory upright signs and road markings. Section 7 covers traffic lights in detail.


Upright Signs

What they look like.


These generally come in two formats. Their shape can be circular, octagonal, triangular or rectangular, as shown in the examples below:

  • a white background with a red border and black letters, symbols or numbers, and
Stop Sign

Stop

Yield Sign

Yield

Yield Sign

Yield

No Entry

Zonal restriction - no parking of large vehicles

No Entry

No Entry

100 KPH

100km/h

No parking

Parking prohibited

No parking

No entry to vehicles


  • a blue background with white symbols or letters.
Stop Sign

Turn Left

tram lines on right

Tram lane on right

Start of cycle track

Start of cycle track

Contra flow bus lane

Contra flow bus lane


The sign below applies to drivers of HGVs and large non-passenger vehicles. It means that vehicles with the number of axles shown (or more) cannot use the road during the times shown without a permit. You should check the information plate and/or the permit to confirm the time limits and any restrictions that apply.


3 axle lorry prohibited

No entry to goods vehicles (by reference to number of axles)

Information plate

Information plate



artic lorry



Stop and Yield signs

As you can see from the diagram, the Stop upright sign is a red octagon with a white border. It is the only regulatory sign of this shape. Stop signs appear at junctions with major roads. If you approach a Stop sign, you must stop completely before entering the major road, no matter how quiet it might appear.


stop sign
Stop


The Yield upright sign shown is just one version of this sign. Other versions are the same shape and colour but might say 'Yield Right of Way', or 'G.ill Sl.'. If you see a Yield sign on the road, usually near a junction or roundabout, you must give way to any traffic on a major road ahead and you must not proceed out onto the main road until it is safe to do so. It is better to be safe than sorry, make sure you allow enough time to complete your manoeuvre.


Yiels sign
Yield



One-way Streets

When you are approaching a one-way street, you may see one of two regulatory signs. If you are at the entrance to a one-way street, you will see the 'Proceed Straight Ahead' regulatory sign. If you are approaching the 'wrong' end of a one-way street, you will see the regulatory road markings shown below to indicate 'No Entry' and you must not enter past those markings.


No entry road markings


You may also see an upright 'No Entry' sign with the road markings.


Straight ahead only sign
Straight Ahead

No entry

No Entry

no entry to vehicles
No entry to vehicles


Driving in a one-way street

Even though all traffic on a one-way street is travelling in the same direction, you should still drive on the left-hand side. You may leave the left-hand side only if you intend to overtake or turn right up ahead. You may drive on either side of a traffic island, but take note of arrow markings on the road.


Only change lanes if you have to. If you have to change lanes, check your mirrors and blind spots for any traffic coming up behind or overtaking you. When the way is clear, signal your intention and move, giving way to any traffic already in the lane.


When turning right from a one-way street, drive as close as you can to the righthand side.


Remember that the road at the end of a one-way street may be two-way. You may see the warning sign below if it is.


two way street ahead
Two-way traffic



Streets for Pedestrians

The regulatory sign below shows that the street is closed to all road users except pedestrians at the time shown on the information plate underneath.


Pedestrianised street
Pedestrianised street



Road Markings

Road markings are a traffic sign in the form and design of a marking on the surface of the road. They have the same standing as upright signs. Road users must obey these road markings.


The diagrams below show the most common types of road marking and what they mean.


ROAD MARKINGS WHAT THEY MEAN  
Single or double continuous white lines along the centre of the road All traffic must keep to the left of the line (except in an emergency or for access). Longer white lines
Longer white lines / warning lines along the centre of the road These warning lines alert drivers to hazards such as restricted vision, approach to a junction, approach to a roundabout, a hill, crests, bends and continuous white line ahead. continuous white line
Short broken white lines along the centre of the road These divide two lanes of traffic travelling in opposite directions. You must not cross them unless it is safe to do so. broken white line
Double broken white lines along the centre of the road These alert drivers to continuous white lines a short distance ahead. As a driver, you must not cross them unless it is safe to do so. Double broken white lines
A broken white line with a single white line along the centre of the road The driver must obey the line that is nearest to them. In this picture, the driver in the car must remain to the left of the continuous white line. double broken and continuous line
A single broken yellow line along the side of the road This road contains a hard shoulder, which is normally only for pedestrians and cyclists.

If a driver wants to allow a vehicle behind them to overtake, they may pull in to the hard shoulder briefly as long as no pedestrians or cyclists are already using it and no junctions or entrances are nearby.

Different rules exist for hard shoulders on motorways. See Section 11 for details.
broken yellow line

ROAD MARKINGS WHAT THEY MEAN  
A broken white Yield line crossing the left-hand lane.

A white triangular Yield symbol may also be provided with the Yield line.
The driver must give right-of-way to any traffic on a mojor road ahead. The yield line usually appears with an upright Yield sign. stop road markings
A continuous white Stop line crossing the lefthand lane.

The word STOP may also be provided with the Stop line.
The driver must come to a complete stop before entering a major road. The stop line sometimes appears with an upright Stop sign. stop road markings
An advanced stop line for cyclists, which is in front of the stop line for other traffic Cyclists may position themselves in front of other traffic at a junction controlled by traffic lights.

The motor vehicle driver must wait behind the first white line they reach and not cross into the shaded area. The driver must also give cyclists enough time and space to move off when the lights turn green.
 cyclists advanced stop line
A turning box showing a white arrow in a white edged box, found at junctions controlled by traffic lights This shows where to position a vehicle if you want to take a right turn.

If oncoming traffic means you cannot take a right turn immediately, you must wait in the box until you can safely take the turn.
white turning boxe

Warning Signs

These signs warn you of hazards ahead, such as roundabouts, crossroads, dangerous bends or anything else that would call on you to drive more carefully. You should always take special care when you see a warning sign. If you fail to observe these signs you could create an emergency.


What they look like

All warning signs have the same format. They:

  • are diamond or rectangular shaped,
  • have a yellow background with a black border, and
  • use a black symbol to show the hazard ahead.

They are also upright, meaning they are at the side of the road or mounted on a wall instead of painted onto the road surface.


This diagram shows some of the most common warning signs.


warning sign roundsbout ahead

Roundabout Ahead




Go Left Sign

Series of dangerous bends ahead


Straight Ahead Only

School Ahead





Stay Left

Dangerous corner ahead



warning sign tram ahead

Tram lane warning sign for pedestrians

Junction ahead

Crossroads




sharp direction change

Chevron board
(a sharp change of direction to the right)

T-junction warning

T-junction





Section 22 has more examples of warning signs.



Roadwork signs

These signs differ from other warning signs. You should always take extra care and reduce your speed when you see these signs.


The signs are:

  • rectangular or diamond shaped, and
  • orange with a black border and black symbols or words.
warning sign roundsbout ahead

End of detour


Go Left Sign

Roadworks ahead


Straight Ahead Only

Temporary traffic signals ahead

Stay Left

Flagman ahead




The movement of vehicles at or near roadworks is controlled by law.


Stop and Go traffic control at roadworks


When road works are being carried out you must stop when you see the Stop sign below. You may only proceed through or past the road works when the Go sign (T.igh) is displayed. It is an offence not to obey these signs.


Where plant or machinery is crossing the roadway and no matter what direction you approach from, you must stop when you see the Stop sign below. You must obey these road signs. The signs can be operated by mechanical or manual means.


Manual traffic control sign at roadworks

road works stop sign
roadworks go sign works go sign in gaelic

Stop

Either form of Go or T.igh can be used


There are more signs displayed in Section 23.


Variable Message Signs


These signs provide information in an electronic format and are designed to inform you of a range of issues relating to roads and road safety. The content of the sign will change, dependent on the situation. You should pay particular attention to these signs and messages.


variable sign

Information regarding speed limit

variable message sign

New road layout ahead


variable mobile sign

mobile VMS (displaying text message)

variable mobile message sign

mobile VMS (displaying chevrons)




mobile signs arrows


Arrow formats for mobile VMS



Information signs


As their name suggests, these signs give information about directions and distances from your current location.


What they look like

There are three formats for information signs:

  • blue signs with white letters on motorways,
  • green signs with white letters, which are on national roads, and
  • white signs with black letters, which are on local and regional roads.

Advanced direction signs


advanced directioin signs

Motorway information signs

All motorway signs are blue. The following table identifies the most common signs and what they mean.

Motorway signs What they mean
motorway ahead sign Motorway ahead

There is an entrance to a motorway ahead and the road users listed on the sign must not enter the motorway.

motorway entry ahead sign Entry to motorway

The road user is now entering a motorway and must obey motorway rules.
This sign usually appears beside the 'Motorway ahead' sign.

300 countdown sign Countdown sign

The driver is 300 metres from the next exit off the motorway.

200 meter countdown motorway sign Countdown sign.

The driver is 200 metres from the next exit.

100 meter sign Countdown sign

The driver is 100 metres from the next exit.

300 meter motoroway ends sign Motorway ends 500m ahead

There are 500 metres to the end of the motorway.

motorway ends sign End of motorway

The driver has reached the end of the motorway.


Section 11 covers the main rules on motorway driving. It is an offence to disobey these rules.



Markings for merging and diverging traffic (hatched markings)

The diagrams show how the markings can be used for:

  • merging traffic, for example, where two lanes of traffic become one,

 lane markings merging traffic


  • diverging traffic, for example where channelling traffic taking a left turn away from traffic going straight ahead, and

lane marking diverging


  • separating traffic travelling in opposite directions (in what are called central median islands).

If you see these markings on a road, you must not enter the area they cover.



Road markings on '2-plus-1 roads'

A 2-plus-1 road consists of two lanes in one direction of travel and one lane in the other direction. The two-lane section allows for safe overtaking and alternates with a one-lane section roughly every 2 kilometres.

markings 2 + 1 road


There may be a safety barrier in the centre of the road which separates the two directions of traffic and prevents drivers from overtaking in the one-lane section. If vehicles need to turn right, they can do so at junctions.


In other cases vehicles which need to turn right or turnaround may first turn left onto a minor road and perform a U-turn in the area provided for that purpose. They can then resume their journey as originally intended.

markings 2 plus 1 turnaround


A form of 2-plus-1 road already exists on some climbing national primary roads - the uphill stretch is two lanes and the downhill stretch is just one.



Traffic Calming

Some towns and villages use road features, signs and markings for traffic calming, which generally involves slowing the pace of traffic and managing its flow at junctions. The signs used for traffic calming are regulatory, warning and information. When you enter one of these towns or villages, you will see an information sign that may be combined with the town or village name and a speed limit sign.


In these towns, expect the following speed reducing measures:

  • traffic islands,
  • gateways,
  • mini-roundabouts,
  • build-outs,
  • chicanes, and
  • pinch points.

You may also come across the following signs on residential roads in built-up areas. These signs indicate that the road includes ramps, speed cushions or speed tables.

ramps sign
Ramps on road

mini roundabout
Mini-Roundabout ahead

Sign traffic calming
Traffic calming

Supplementary plate calming
Supplementary plate






























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