Road signs you thought you understood


3 minutes

10 December 2020

Road signs

For most of us, we see road signs such as 'U-turn' or 'Give way' daily, but do we really understand what they mean? Chances are, there is more to common roads signs than most of us may think.

To get the full picture, we've put together a list of the most commonly misunderstood road signs.

  1. Traffic lights

  2. When approaching a yellow light, there can be a feeling of “could I make it if I hit the accelerator?” A yellow light is a warning indicating you should slow down to a stop, therefore the answer in this instance is “no”, do not try and speed up to make it. However, if you feel you would be stopping too suddenly and may cause a crash with the vehicle behind you, it will be important to calculate your risks quickly. To avoid this scenario, you should allow yourself plenty of distance and time to stop safely should a yellow light turn.

  3. Pedestrian crossings

  4. Pedestrians have a right of way in a number of instances. If you are approaching a pedestrian crossing which is empty, you may drive through. However, if there is a person about to cross or in the act of crossing then you must stop and allow them to cross. The law also indicates that turning drivers must give way to pedestrians crossing at any intersection, with or without lights.

  5. U-turn signs

  6. It might seem safe to perform a U-turn in some areas; however, except in Victoria, these are not permitted at traffic lights unless there is a sign letting you know that U-turns are permitted. It’s also illegal to perform a U-turn over a continuous white dividing line.

  7. Form one lane

  8. Merging has been a hotly debated topic for some time. The rules indicate that the vehicle which is travelling ahead has the right of way when it comes to forming one lane and merging. Keep in mind though, if the lane ends and you have to merge across lane lines, this is considered the same as changing lanes, and you’ll need to give way.

  9. Hook turns

  10. Hook turns are most common in Melbourne’s CBD and in South Australia. A hook turn means the driver is turning right from the left lane. If you’ve ever witnesses a hook turn, it may look a little tricky and out of place, however there is good reasoning behind it. Hook turns are performed to allow a space for trams to pass, and to allow drivers to turn without having to wait for a long time.

    So, whether you've been behind the wheel for years or are new to driving, it's important to brush up on your knowledge of the road rules and signs to help you stay safe on the roads.

    Before you hit the road, make sure you’re prepared for the unexpected with HBF Car Insurance.

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Insurance issued by Insurance Australia Limited ABN 11 000 016 722 AFSL 227681 (IAL), trading as CGU Insurance. For full policy details please consider the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) available at This is general advice only and does not take into account your personal circumstances. You should consider the PDS and your personal circumstances in deciding whether to buy or hold these products. HBF Health Limited ABN 11 126 884 786 AR No. 406073 (HBF Health), is an authorised representative of IAL.