UK Road Signs – Advanced Meanings

Congratulations! You’ve passed your driving test and you now know how to barely get around this great country of ours in one of those automocars everyone’s talking about. That shiny, pink licence to drive in your wallet, purse, or pocket means you can start to forget most of what you learnt and especially the meanings of many of the signs you had to know but which you’ll soon discover you never see in real life: migratory toad crossing? What? No entrance to horse-drawn carriages? So?

But wait! There are some road signs you will need to know. And worse! The meanings you learnt in the Highway Code won’t be quite the same. Oh, the horror! How can you – novice driver – possibly hope to survive on the congested roads of the United Kingdom when everyone else is playing to a different set of rules?

Help is at hand! Read on to discover the advanced meanings of several UK road signs and markings they don’t dare tell you when you’re learning to drive. With this guide you’ll be almost one percent less likely to be the cause of a serious accident in your first few years of driving on our dreadful roads and motorways.

Entrance

Standard Meaning
The barred white line across the front of a dropped kerb which forms part of the entrance to a garage for a house indicates that there are to be no stationary vehicles. Because it’s an entrance. And if there were stationary vehicles there then it would no longer be one.

Advanced Meaning
The barred white line across the front of a dropped kerb which forms part of the entrance to a garage for a house indicates that there are to be no stationary vehicles. Unless it’s your garage when it suddenly becomes a magical, lovely, private parking spot for you in addition to the one in your garage. Because you’re special. Never mind that you never put your car in the garage and are just using it to build up a monument to nearly empty paint tins; you bought a house with a garage and, subsequently, you get your own extra parking spot right near your door when every one of your neighbours has to struggle with finding some place within four roads of their home late in the evening because it seems every other home has at least two family cars plus a large, white van they use for work.

Lanes

Standard Meaning
If you want to go straight ahead get in the lane with the arrow pointing straight ahead. If you want to go left or right then get in the lane with the arrow pointing left or right. Amazing how that works. It’s like the arrows are telling you which lane is for which direction.

Advanced Meaning
Get in the lane with the shortest queue. At the last moment – or when somebody in the other queue isn’t smart enough to keep bumper-to-bumper with the vehicle in front to prevent what you’re about to do – indicate and pull into the lane you should have been in all along. It doesn’t matter if there’s not a space because some weak-willed sod will eventually give in and let you jump the queue in order to prevent an accident in the other lane where everybody suddenly finds they can’t get past your important, impatient self.

50 MPH

Standard Meaning
The flashing lights and speed limit of 50 miles per hour on the motorway indicates there’s a problem up ahead so you should limit yourself to 50 miles per hour for safety reasons.

Advanced Meaning
The flashing lights and speed limit of 50 miles per hour on the motorway indicates there’s a slight possibility of a problem up ahead so you should probably limit yourself to under a 100 miles per hour. Maybe. Maybe it’ll be okay to keep to the speed you’re doing but, just perhaps, look a bit further ahead than the next car or two in case one of them’s braking.

30 MPH

Standard Meaning
The flashing lights and speed limit of 30 miles per hour on the motorway indicates there’s a real problem up ahead so you should limit yourself to 30 miles per hour for safety reasons.

Advanced Meaning
The flashing lights and speed limit of 30 miles per hour on the motorway indicates, in all likelihood, that the motorway operators have forgotten to reset the sign from some stupid accident earlier in the day when some tits who should have been slowing down because of congestion instead rammed the backs of cars ahead at just under 100 miles per hour. Hell, it’s probably been clear along this stretch for most of the day now. Still, there are bound to be a few people who’ll slow down anyway so, just to be on the safe side, best take your foot off the accelerator until you’re down to around, ooh, let’s say 70 miles per hour. Wouldn’t want to break the law.

Merge

Standard Meaning
The outside two lanes of the motorway are merging and becoming one. Isn’t it beautiful! If you’re in the outside lane then you should move over. And if you’re in the lane next to the outside lane then why don’t you let people outside you move in front. You’re all one big happy family of drivers on Her Majesty’s United Kingdom Highways after all!

Advanced Meaning
Some utter moron in road planning thought it would be a good idea to merge the two fastest lanes of the motorway rather than the slowest ones. Now, every driver is used to merging slow traffic; it happens at every slip road. And here, in the UK, we’re quite a polite bunch when it comes to slow traffic merging with ever-so-slightly-faster-than-slow traffic. But fast traffic merging? Wow! What a fantastic idea! Let’s get all the traffic doing close to a ton to suddenly double in density on one lane and make it far, far slower than traffic inside it which will then all be effectively undertaking, something potentially dangerous. Who in road planning thought this was sensible? Well, they need to be taught a lesson so here’s what to do: accelerate until you’re down to the last 20 yards of lane or so and your rev counter is touching red. You should be going fast enough to get past the traffic in the lane you’re merging with as they’ll all be braking hard, slowed down by other vehicles just like you pushing in and squealing their brakes in order to not be passed by one single car or van that was previously behind them, at which point you employ emergency deceleration and swerve into a tailgating gap seemingly not large enough making the car that would have been there brake harder still allowing you to make sure not one single car or van that was previously behind you has room to get past thereby demonstrating just how awesomely brave and awesomely awesome an awesome driver you are and sticking two fingers up at the tosser in road planning for creating this utter nightmare that is bound to cause accidents, and serious ones too. And then, when your heart rate has dropped under 200 beats a minute and the sounds of car horns has subsided bully yourself into the lane inside because the one you’re in seems to be really jammed up for some reason.

Author: Mark

Share This Post On

14 Comments

  1. Haha. I live in China, where all signs and pretty much all rules are for suckers only.

    Post a Reply
  2. I was in China last year and got to experience the joy that is Beijing traffic at first hand. My understanding of the rules for driving in China is:

    #1. Loudest horn wins.
    #2. That is all.

    Post a Reply
  3. Unfortunately, you are completely right. A few people are stupid enough to actually obey the road rules. The remaining majority know that the rules are just a rough guide and don’t really apply to them anyway. Thanks for clearing that up.

    Post a Reply
  4. Fortunately, for the majority of the time I ride a motorbike. Which means I get an extra lane between traffic that cars can’t use. ;o)

    Of course they often veer across it without indicating, so it’s always a sphincter-twitching thrill. 😀

    Post a Reply
  5. Yes, fast traffic merging into one another seems like brilliant road engineering 🙂

    I have never driven in the UK, but now you make me want to write a post about the road signs where I live and what they really mean.

    Post a Reply
  6. Ugh! looks like I won’t be doing the driving when I visit.

    Post a Reply
  7. Hi

    This sounds sill but when there are signs near schools saying ‘Slow Down’ with ’20’ inside the letter O. Does this mean that this is a 20 MPH zone. I have been driving at 20 in these zones and have been beeped, flashed and abused becasue I haven’t been doing 30MPH. Also can anyone let me know where I can get the information for this?

    Post a Reply
  8. Being flashed and abused while driving past a school is a sad indictment of the standard of education in Britain indeed.

    Post a Reply
  9. Mark,

    I’m doing an experimental guest writer project, and I’m publicly BEGGING for a guest post from you! This is one of my fave blogs!!! 🙂

    Predators on Patrol

    Post a Reply
  10. I’ll ignore the slur on this site’s good name – A blog! A blog! Why, I oughtta…! – and respond by saying that I will do my best to contribute to your fine site. When time permits. Hell, I’ve not even updated my own site in almost three weeks.

    Post a Reply
  11. You ROCK! I’m looking forward to it.

    (And sorry about the "blog" thing … heehee)

    Post a Reply
  12. All these road signs confuse the hell out of me.

    Thankfully, my alcoholism is a natural deterrent.

    Post a Reply
  13. this DONTHELP AT ALL!!!! SO WHATS THE POINT FOR HAVING IT AS A
    WEBSITE DUH 🙁

    Post a Reply
  14. In India (Bangalore) a road can have the same width for miles but vary in lanes from 2 to 5 with cows, carts carrying supplies hogging the lanes. The air quality is so bad one most cover their face, especially if riding in an open car. Oh!? Road signs? Never saw one.

    Post a Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *