Different Road signs in Nigeria and What they represent

With there being thousands of type of road sign out there, it can be difficult for the average person to learn a reasonable amount of the types of road sign we have out there. In fact, at times, when some people see how many types of road sign there is to learn, they simply give up learning anything at all; such people rather only end up learning the few they come across very frequently. In short, as a result of the volume of road sign types we have out there, a very large percentage of Nigerian drivers don’t understand a reasonable amount of all the road sign types we have out there.

However, if you are one of those who doesn’t know many types of road sign, but will really like to understand many of them, then you have come to the right place. In this content, I’ll be helping people with being able to understand most of the road sign types (if not all of them).

You should note that I won’t help you understand all these sign types by asking you to memorize. Rather than memorizing anything, what I’ll be doing is teaching you a simple system for decoding road signs, without having to memorize anything. In other words, all you have to do is to learn this system, to understand almost any road sign you will ever come across.

The system; How to understand any road sign

Before going into the details of how to use the system I’ve been talking about, you first have to understand that there are three types of element used to pass messages in road signs. These elements in question are — (i) colour; (ii) symbol; and (iii) text.

The system I’m talking about has to do with figuring out what “the colour, the symbol, and the text of a sign”, are all saying, to conjure up the complete picture of what the sign has to say. In other words, to understand what a sign is saying (using this system), just look at — (i) the sign’s colour; (ii) the symbol featured in the sign; and (iii) the text in the sign.

1.) Colour

One of the types of thing that make up all road signs is colour. Road signs come in all sorts of colour, and while some people may not realize this, the choice of colour used for a road sign carries meaning. The colour used for a sign tells what type of road sign it is.

For instance — if the colour a road sign is made up of is majorly white, then you should know that the road sign is the kind passing information of normal importance — as for road signs made up of majorly the colour yellow, you should know that such signs are giving information you are expected to pay attention to — as for signs made up of majorly the colour red, you should know that such signs are saying something you MUST pay attention to and obey — as for signs made up of majorly the colour green, you should know that such road signs are giving guidance that you may choose to ignore if you like.

A road sign made up of majorly WHITE
A road sign made up of majorly YELLOW
A road sign made up of majorly RED
A road sign made up of majorly GREEN

Some road signs come in other colours aside from white, yellow, red, and green, but I won’t discuss these other colours, as those signs coming in white, yellow, red, and green are the most popular and the most important.

In short, when you see a road sign, the first thing to ask yourself is, “What is the major colour of this sign?”. Then based on what the major colour in, you can know what type of sign it is, which is a start in decoding what the sign is saying.

After knowing what type of sign a road sign is, the next thing to do is to look at the symbol the sign contains.

2.) Symbol

While the colour of a road sign tells us what type of sign a sign is, the symbol featured in the sign is what carries the main message of the sign. And the good thing is, while you may have never come across the symbol used in a sign, the symbols typically used in road signs are easy to guess their meaning. For instance, if you look at the sign below, you may have never encountered the symbol used in it, but if you pause for a few seconds to wonder what the symbol may mean, your mind should be able to figure out that it means a speed bump.

So by figuring out that the symbol in the sign means a speed bump, you should be able to understand that the road sign is simply trying to say there’s a speed bump ahead.

3.) Text

While the combination of colour and symbol alone are often used to pass messages in road signs, there are times when road signs also feature texts.

A road sign featuring colour, symbol, and text

Usually, when a text is also featured in a sign, the text featured tells the meaning of the symbol in the road sign. In other words, when a text is present in a sign, you probably don’t have to crack your head (trying to figure out what the symbol means), since the text in the sign already states the meaning of the symbol. Furthermore, there are times, when texts are used in the place of symbols.

A road where text is used in the place symbol

Decoding some examples

To make sure you really understand everything I’ve been trying to say, I’ll like us to decode some road signs together.

Example 01

To decode the example above, the first question to ask ourselves is, “What is the major colour of the sign? “. And as we can all see, the major colour is “white”, so this means the sign is of normal importance.

So after knowing what type of sign the sign is, the next thing is to look at what symbol is on the sign. As we can also see, the sign has no symbol, so we just skip that and instead look if there’s a text in the sign. And as we can further all see, there’s a text in the sign saying “the bridge is out 10 miles ahead”.

So from the elements making up the sign, it’s safe to say that what the sign just wants us to know is that the bridge we’re currently on is out 10 miles ahead.

Example 02

To decode the road sign above, the first thing to ask ourselves is, “What’s the major colour of the sign?”. And with the major colour being white, it means the sign is also a normal road sign.

Then if we look at the symbol the sign comes with, after a few seconds of thinking, you should be able to realize that a roundabout is the major thing on a road the sign can possibly denote. And with no text present in the sign, it’s safe to say that the sign is a normal sign trying to tell us that there’s a roundabout ahead.

Example 03

To decode the road sign above, the first thing to ask yourself is, “What is the major colour of the sign?”. And with yellow being the major colour, this means the sign is not just any sign, it is rather a sign we ought to look at, and not ignore.

After asking the first question, the next thing to do, is to look at the symbol in the sign, then ask yourself, “What can this symbol possible mean?”. And if you look at the symbol carefully, you should realize that the symbol simply means the road narrows ahead, then diverges again. So since the sign contains no text, we can simply jump into conclusion and say that the sign is trying to say something like “Hey! Pay attention to me, the road is narrow ahead, so slow down so that you don’t crash out of the road.”.

Example 04

To decode the sign above, the first question we have to ask is of course, “What’s the major colour of the sign?”. As we can all see, yellow is the major colour, even though we have a significant amount of red in it. In other words, this sign is an important sign you should pay attention to, the moment your eyes catches a glimpse of it.

As for the symbol, when you look at the symbol in the sign, if you calm down and look carefully, you should realize that the symbol is simply talking about height. In other words, it’s safe to say that the sign above is an important sign trying to tell us that only vehicles not more than 3 metres tall should proceed.

Talking about where you can see such a sign, you may see them on streets where electricity cables are so low that if a tall vehicle tries to pass such a street, the vehicle will hit the electric cables, which can be very dangerous. 

Can you imagine a tall vehicle trying to pass a road like this?

Example 05

To decode the sign above, the first thing we have to ask ourselves, as usual, is “What is the major colour of the road sign?”. As we can both see, the major colour is red, and from what I stated above, a red sign means a sign we must pay attention to and comply with whether we like it or not. And as regards what the symbol means, you may be unable to say, but if you’ve seen road sign charts, you should recall that the sign means “no entry”.

In short, we can say the road sign above is trying to say something like “Hey. You can’t get past this point; we’re being very serious about this.”.

Example 06

To decode the sign above, the first thing to ask yourself is of course, “What’s the major colour of this road sign?”. And as we call all see, the major colour is red, which means the road sign is a very important one. So the moment your eye catches it, you shouldn’t try to ignore it.

Also, as you can see, there’s no symbol in the sign. What we rather have in the sign is “STOP”. So as you must already know, the road sign above is kind of saying “It’s very important that you stop. Don’t ignore me.”.

Final words

With the system I’ve provided you, I hope you can see that it’s possible to understand almost all road signs, without having to memorize them. All you have to do is — (i) always remember what the colours white, yellow, red, and green standard for; and (ii) try to use your common sense to figure out what the symbol in the sign may mean. Once you can do these two things well, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about again, when it comes to road signs.

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