Join 3,501 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Sign, Sign, everywhere a sign.
June 20, 2008 8:23 PM   Subscribe

US Traffic & Road Sign Test. Five part, 30 questions each, multiple choice test on US road, highway and traffic signs. Results include inline scoring and explanation of each sign.

The average for part 1 (the easiest) is only 82% and 15% of takers score less than 70%.
posted by Mitheral (73 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Woo! Got them all right. Do I get an insurance deduction now?
posted by danb at 8:31 PM on June 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Start Now is grayed out for me and clicking on it does nothing. Hmm.
posted by LSK at 8:35 PM on June 20, 2008


Wow, that's pretty pointlessly nitpicky.

Although now I know that the curvy road sign indicates whether the first curve is right or left. I wonder whether the construction workers who put the sign up know that?

Also, the sign for a lane ending doesn't make sense. Never has. It looks like the lanes are just getting closer.
posted by smackfu at 8:39 PM on June 20, 2008


27/30 or 90%. I had no idea that there were separate signs depending if the winding road ahead started with a right curve or left curve. Also, I am a dumbass, because I thought the school zone sign was a pedestrian crossing sign.
posted by joannemerriam at 8:45 PM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


LSK writes "Start Now is grayed out for me and clicking on it does nothing. Hmm."

They use flash and flash detection. If you've got flashblock installed you need to click on both the centre flash icon and the one in the lower left.
posted by Mitheral at 8:51 PM on June 20, 2008


If you ride a motorcycle road signs become a real handy thing to tell you what kind of curve you're coming up on, on an unfamiliar road. Reading the subtle differences between posted curve signs can be a life saver, litterally.
posted by nola at 8:52 PM on June 20, 2008


29/30, I got tripped up by one of the "reduce speed to x in ideal driving conditions" versus "...all driving conditions". In retrospect, they'd never say "all driving conditions," that doesn't cover their ass nearly well enough.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:53 PM on June 20, 2008


I missed only a couple, due mostly to signs I've never seen (nor am likely to). And my inability to tell an Elk Crossing from a Deer Crossing.
posted by cerebus19 at 9:03 PM on June 20, 2008


Dude has never been on a freshly oiled road according to the answer section to Part 3.
posted by asterisk at 9:05 PM on June 20, 2008


It's remarkable how complex a system the general public is (t)asked to understand.
posted by stbalbach at 9:11 PM on June 20, 2008


29/30
30/30
30/30
29/30
28/30

I own your gol-dang roads. Eisenhower, in particular, is my bitch.
posted by Krrrlson at 9:15 PM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Damnit, I have a bone to pick. A yellow sign indicating a speed limit is not primarily enforceable and is strictly an advisory! That's a pet peeve of mine. Only white speed limit signs are required to be followed. Grrrrr....
posted by TheNewWazoo at 9:17 PM on June 20, 2008


I got them all right, but I agree with TheNewWazoo--with the caveat that I suspect they can bust you for reckless driving or something if you're over the advisory but under the actual speed limit, if they have a mind to.
posted by maxwelton at 9:21 PM on June 20, 2008


A yellow sign indicating a speed limit is not primarily enforceable and is strictly an advisory! That's a pet peeve of mine.

Yes, I noted that too. You cannot get a ticket for exceeding the number on a yellow speed sign, at least in my state.

I missed one question out of the whole test...the look both ways for a railroad crossing. Only missed that, because they didn't show a railroad crossing, or other railroad signage. That sign never appears alone.
posted by Xoc at 9:40 PM on June 20, 2008


I got 8 out of 30 on quiz one, because I took it rapidly and drunk... the same way I usually drive.
posted by the_bone at 9:42 PM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


27/30 on the first bit.. wouldn't let me access others.

And I'm not from the USA, nor do I drive. Huh.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:47 PM on June 20, 2008


I can't take them all right now, but

29/30
30/30
30/30


I have never had a driver's license.
posted by louche mustachio at 9:49 PM on June 20, 2008


30-odd% of people fail this?!

Not from the US, never been to the US, and my only exposure to US road signs is through TV & movies - and I got 28~30/30 across all 5 tests. Anyone actually from the US & of driving age has no excuse...
posted by Pinback at 10:03 PM on June 20, 2008


There is a sign specifically for golf-cart crossing.
posted by dirigibleman at 10:03 PM on June 20, 2008


Winding road ahead, begins with a curve to the right.

I don't think this one is right. It just means that the road is windy. We have these signs all over the place, and they always start with the curve to the right.
posted by yath at 10:04 PM on June 20, 2008


There is a sign specifically for golf-cart crossing.

It is necessary to protect John McCain.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 10:09 PM on June 20, 2008


Missed 5 out of 150, two due to not knowing my left from my right (d-oh!). Two others were because they didn't have the correct answer for advisory signs: the posted sharp-curve limits are not actual maximums, they are advisory. I had to guess between choosing the "ideal weather" wrong answer or "all weather" wrong answer.

Frankly, anyone that scores less than near-perfect shouldn't be on the road: if you can't get "no right turn on red" when the sign itself says "no right turn on red," you're a hazard to everyone. There are damn few signs that aren't blazingly obvious in their meaning.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:41 PM on June 20, 2008


Also, the sign for a lane ending doesn't make sense. Never has. It looks like the lanes are just getting closer.

I think the lines represent the edges of the road, not the lanes.
posted by advil at 10:59 PM on June 20, 2008


yath writes "I don't think this one is right. It just means that the road is windy. We have these signs all over the place, and they always start with the curve to the right."

The sign should be some what representative, the first curve especially. For example in BC the single curve signs come in several different varieties depending on the degree of curve, direction, whether it is sweeping or tight and whether it opens up or tightens as you proceed through the curve. It could be that the criteria your local administration uses results in more right handed signs being placed as failure to negotiate a right is potentially worse than failure to negotiate a left (because of the possibility for a head on).

One that I didn't know about for ten years of driving but sticks out like a sore thumb for me now are that object marker signs are handed, the banding points to the safe side of the object. This one means keep left and this one means keep right. I'd say less than 5% of the people I talk to realize they are handed before I point it out.

Similarly I'm amazed by the number of people who don't know that freeway exits are distance reference numbered from the start of the freeway.

smackfu writes "Also, the sign for a lane ending doesn't make sense. Never has. It looks like the lanes are just getting closer."

In Canada they use dashed lines on the sign to indicate lanes.
posted by Mitheral at 11:16 PM on June 20, 2008


I didn't miss any, in spite of the nearly unbearable tedium of taking all five tests.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:34 PM on June 20, 2008


The road ahead, curves sharply left, then right.
The road ahead, curves sharply right, then left.
The road ahead, turns sharply left.


I could not, finish the test, because I was driven mad, by the misuse of commas.
posted by stefanie at 11:35 PM on June 20, 2008 [4 favorites]


I'd say less than 5% of the people I talk to realize they are handed before I point it out.

Count me as one of the 95% who'd never noticed! Cool, I'm gonna keep an eye out for that now.

What I strongly dislike about BC's use of sharp corner speed advisories is that they are inevitably 40% slower than they need to be. It gets so that the only speed advisory signs I pay any attention to are the ones that are 4' wide with big warning checks marked around them. The serious advisories. All the others are almost wholly ignorable.

I am thankful that most BC winding-road signs accurately represent the windiness, both direction and sharpness. What with all the mountains resulting in twisty little roads all over, it's kinda nice to not be surprised all the time.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:56 PM on June 20, 2008


What I strongly dislike about BC's use of sharp corner speed advisories is that they are inevitably 40% slower than they need to be.

Indeed. While the correct answer for this test is that those limits are for ideal conditions, the real answer in BC is that the posted corner speeds are usually for school buses, heavy snow, and so on. Unfortunately, every so often you'll come across one which is accurate. The 25km/h ones are particularly bad: they could mean you might want to slow down to 45km/h or so, but sometimes they mean you are about to go around a very sharp turn indeed.
posted by ssg at 12:27 AM on June 21, 2008


These road signs are pretty universal - or at least I was able to score 93% based on my knowledge of the New Zealand road code and road signs.
posted by vac2003 at 12:41 AM on June 21, 2008


"A yellow sign indicating a speed limit is not primarily enforceable and is strictly an advisory! That's a pet peeve of mine. Only white speed limit signs are required to be followed."

I can't recall ever having seen a yellow speed limit sign in Florida, where I live. That being said, I wish there were more yellow ones.
posted by wsg at 1:11 AM on June 21, 2008


It's not a quiz, but might be interesting to someone: German Traffic Signs & Signals.
posted by moonbiter at 1:12 AM on June 21, 2008


Similarly I'm amazed by the number of people who don't know that freeway exits are distance reference numbered from the start of the freeway.

That's not true for every state. Although, it's always refreshing to enter a state where they do it that way, because then you don't have to put up with stupid "are we there yet" questions.

A yellow sign indicating a speed limit is not primarily enforceable and is strictly an advisory! That's a pet peeve of mine. Only white speed limit signs are required to be followed.

I can't recall ever having seen a yellow speed limit sign in Florida, where I live.


I've seen them before in the Tampa/St. Pete area, but they're rare. You can usually spot them posted on fast roads where the course takes a turn. They'll usually come paired with the curved-arrow sign for this reason. It's basically traffic-sign-speak for "curve ahead; recommended speed to take the curve: 25mph, but feel free to try flooring it, buddy."

The reason you don't see too many in Florida is because Florida is filled with long, straight, flat, boring roads. /former Floridian
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:36 AM on June 21, 2008


How the hell do people fail this...? I'm not American nor ever been there, but I got 87%, 97%, 90%, 100%, 87% by intelligent guesswork. Most of these signs just don't exist in Europe.

If you're American and get less than 90%, please surrender your drivers license.
posted by twine42 at 3:46 AM on June 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


A significant number of people trying and failing to pass their driving test have literacy problems. It's not that they don't know what the signs mean, but that they don't know the right way of describing them.
posted by cardboard at 5:08 AM on June 21, 2008


That was indeed the most tedious web quiz I ever saw. But at least there's one sign that was (still is, I didn't look at the answers) a total mystery to me: "HM". Would provide a few seconds of entertainment on the highway as I wonder "Heavy Machinery? Hazardous Materials? Hanged Man? Hidden Monkeys? Hard Money? Heavy Mama?"

What I strongly dislike about BC's use of sharp corner speed advisories is that they are inevitably 40% slower than they need to be.

As with speed limits generally, they are set more appropriately for the slowest, most awkward SUVs and drivers.
posted by sfenders at 5:43 AM on June 21, 2008


You cannot get a ticket for exceeding the number on a yellow speed sign, at least in my state.

No, but it's my understanding -- at least in my state -- that you can get cited for reckless driving if you noticeably exceed this limit. There's always a way they can pop you.
posted by nitsuj at 6:07 AM on June 21, 2008


Aw, I was hoping for the obscure and sometimes scary signs, like:

"State penitentiary - Do not pick up hitchhikers"

and

"No services next 110 miles"

and

"Runaway truck ramp - 1/4 mile"

and

"Tsunami hazard zone" (complete with a depiction of a stick-figure person fleeing a giant wave)

...although I guess all of those are pretty straightforward, huh.
posted by AV at 6:29 AM on June 21, 2008


30/30
30/30
30/30
30/30
30/30

You have to know the rules before you can break them with impunity.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:25 AM on June 21, 2008


A better quiz is here; it is about pavement markings. In fact, the whole site is a goldmine of information on how traffic is supposed to be regulated in the US. Where I live it is amazing how many of the roads are not marked according to the standards.
posted by TedW at 7:48 AM on June 21, 2008


There is also an interesting article on traffic signs in this month's Atlantic Monthly.
posted by TedW at 8:00 AM on June 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


English. 93%.

(Clicked the wrong choice when I knew the answer & didn't know the pharmacy sign.)

Then again, I have driven 1,000s of miles in the US so I should know. Now how about a quiz to get drivers to use their blinkers every now & then?
posted by i_cola at 8:06 AM on June 21, 2008


While the correct answer for this test is that those limits are for ideal conditions, the real answer in BC is that the posted corner speeds are usually for school buses, heavy snow, and so on.

I'm under the impression they're based on the handling characteristics of 1940's Oldsmobile woody station wagon.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:42 AM on June 21, 2008


Germany has "minimum speed limit" signs. Oh, how we desperately need those in Canada.

They also have a frog crossing advisory sign. And here I thought they didn't like the French.

Finally, they also appear to allow parking on the sidewalks. Which to my mind is rather contrary to the whole "walk" bit of the sidewalk. I suppose one can always clamber over the cars.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:08 AM on June 21, 2008


Another sign we could use in BC would be "slow traffic keep right," preferably enforced by auto-targeting missile.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:09 AM on June 21, 2008


30/30
30/30
29/30
30/30
30/30

Why didn't I score this well on the actual DMV test?
posted by chimaera at 9:35 AM on June 21, 2008



You cannot get a ticket for exceeding the number on a yellow speed sign, at least in my state.

nitsuj is right that ignoring yellow speed "advisory" signs can lead to reckless driving citations - way worse than speeding tickets. Seen it, all too closely.

Remember that reckless is written as to the judgment of the citing officer. Traveling faster than the advisory is good supporting evidence.
posted by buzzv at 10:16 AM on June 21, 2008


I don't think I've ever seen the library sign. Possibly because most libraries are not located directly off highways.

The misuse of commas and the unbearable tedium kept me from getting past test 1. On principle, I will now attempt to slog through test 2. I have to say that this is getting less fun, though.
posted by desuetude at 10:32 AM on June 21, 2008


I had my fifteen-year-old daughter take the test since she's getting ready to get her permit.

149/150. The only one she missed was:

<>
   LOOK


I would've gotten it wrong, too, so I was pretty pleased.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:07 AM on June 21, 2008


Argh.

It was a double-headed arrow over the word LOOK.

*grumble grumble stoopid preview*
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:08 AM on June 21, 2008


I've always believed that the numbers in yellow are an advisory to motorcyclists: for maximum enjoyment multiply by two and add 10.
posted by phliar at 11:08 AM on June 21, 2008


The site crashes Opera. Nice.
posted by joeclark at 1:58 PM on June 21, 2008


Crashes your Opera, not mine.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:36 PM on June 21, 2008


When I was in high school we told my utterly clueless new-driver friend that stop signs were optional if they had a white border around them. I should probably forward her this test.
posted by lilac girl at 3:48 PM on June 21, 2008


Woo! 150/150. I did great on the written exam for my DL, too. However, on the driving part I passed by one point the first time and failed (rolling stop leaving the parking lot) the second. The examiner said I did do the fastest (perfect) parallel park he had ever seen.
posted by figment of my conation at 6:47 PM on June 21, 2008


One wrong, only because I mixed up my directions on that one.

The U.S. government publishes a manual for METRIC signs to this day? (with metric speeds inside a circle)? Is anyone USING these?
posted by evilcolonel at 6:53 PM on June 21, 2008


28/30, but I've had a few and accidentally didn't answer two questions. Nice how these things become second nature after awhile - I am sure that I fretted a bit when I applied for my permit.
posted by Tullius at 10:29 PM on June 21, 2008


five fresh fish writes "Germany has 'minimum speed limit' signs. Oh, how we desperately need those in Canada."

Taos, too. Seems like about half the people here drive whatever way they damn please and have been doing that since the beginning of time, so the posted signs are ignored. They set the pace for the traffic here. About 25% are hopelessly lost tourists, overwhelmed by the European-like streets, unable to find their turn or to make a decision about which little shop or gallery they want to see, going 20mph under the posted limit ... and of course completely oblivious to the enormous line of cars that has formed behind them, mostly people who live here and need to get around town. Ah, but we love the tourists ... no, really.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:54 PM on June 22, 2008


I live in a tourist town, too. I'm not upset about doofuses driving slowly on the streets: better they do that than end up running over someone because they were distracted by a shop window.

It's on the highways they get really annoying. And, actually, even then I don't really care if they go slow... so long as they drive in the right hand lane. Hell, I don't even drive more than 10% over the limit (seems to work best for keeping pace with the majority of traffic) and the left-lane drivers annoy me.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:47 PM on June 22, 2008


149/150. Missed the "Fresh oil" one, which I've never seen.

Although I'm disappointed they left out the divided highway with a grave in the middle sign.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:34 AM on June 23, 2008


Another sign we could use in BC would be "slow traffic keep right," preferably enforced by auto-targeting missile.

In the US they have "slow(er) traffic keep right" signs posted in many areas, but it's a waste because zipperhead drivers read the sign and say to themselves, "I'm not slow (or slower), so I'll just park my ass in the lefthand lane." What the signs need to say is "Keep right unless passing other cars." If they obeyed the sign, this would keep everyone over to the right except when they needed to go around another car. This is the proper behavior on the road, not "Gee, if I'm going really fast I can just stay here in the left lane until someone zooms up behind me real close to get my attention so I'll move my ass over."

/rant off
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:23 AM on June 23, 2008


The U.S. government publishes a manual for METRIC signs to this day? (with metric speeds inside a circle)? Is anyone USING these?

That country to the north of us does. I may be 800 miles (1300km) away, but I've driven there, and having a general idea of how fast or how far is something I find useful. YKMV.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:18 PM on June 23, 2008


Also, and this may be indicative of a difference in outlook between Canadians and Americans, in Canada we have highway signs in both metric and imperial near the border. I don't think I've ever seen the same on the US side of the border, but maybe they do exist.
posted by ssg at 12:33 PM on June 23, 2008


effin interstate bicycle route sign, man.
posted by cashman at 1:24 PM on June 23, 2008


Germany has "minimum speed limit" signs. Oh, how we desperately need those in Canada.

Have 'em in the Northeast, US as well. They look like this:

SPEED LIMIT
65
MINIMUM
45

What the signs need to say is "Keep right unless passing other cars." If they obeyed the sign, this would keep everyone over to the right except when they needed to go around another car

Then they'll just stay in the passing lane because they're trying to pass everyone. No, the simplest way to deal with this is thusly:
Effective immediately, any accident between two cars in the passing lane shall be the fault of the driver in front.
That should keep the fuckers out of the fucking lane.

OF course, this is coming from someone who thinks drivers should have to pass an additional license requirement in order to drive in any urban area larger than, say, 500,000 people. An "URBAN" classification or something along those lines. The road test would focus specifically on merging, turning (and signalling), parking (parallel, naturally; this should be a timed exercise), and obstacle avoidance. Failure of any part means no certification, which means you're stuck using public transportation like a good little non-driving citizen.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:23 PM on June 23, 2008


Civ_Dis, I guess I was assuming that to pass you needed to be actually going around another car at a higher rate than said vehicle. However, I'm with you on your solution. Also love the idea of a special "freeway" designation on the license. In Minnesota, we have people who stop at the end of a freeway on-ramp to check to see if any cars are coming before they actually proceed. Others creep down the ramp at a slow rate so they can slam on the brakes if they see any other cars already out there, rather than getting up to speed so they can merge safely and quickly. You can get a license without ever having to demonstrate your ability to get on and off a limited access highway, yet I'm pretty sure that's how many fender benders occur.

And some drivers here seem to not recognize the difference between a merge sign and that one that shows an added lane. How 'bout the f'tards that signal lane changes as they're crossing the lane line? Like it's a magic talisman rather than an attempt to communicate in advance your intentions. Gotta love those doofuses.
posted by Mental Wimp at 4:43 PM on June 23, 2008


drivers should have to pass an additional license requirement in order to drive in any urban area larger than, say, 500,000 people

On the whole, I find the drivers in larger cities to be far better than those in the smaller cities. Driving in my town can be a nightmare. In Vancouver, not so much. In Chicago, it was a thing of beauty.

Keep right unless passing other cars.

It's not the signage so much as the automatic missiles that I was going to count upon to make people behave intelligently on the highway.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:04 PM on June 23, 2008


Why are people so upset over people driving in the left lane? Around here, the highways have two lanes... it would be stupid to not use half the capacity of the highway. And I really don't see people driving too slowly in the left lane. If anything, they're driving too fast, but conveniently, the fast drivers clear out of the area quickly. Y'all sound just like my father, bitching about how people drive.
posted by smackfu at 8:35 PM on June 23, 2008


On the whole, I find the drivers in larger cities to be far better than those in the smaller cities.

Yes, by far, but it's an unfair comparison--it's like saying people in Germany speak better German that people in Texas. A blanket statement, sure, and there are probably some exceptions, but on the whole, you tend to be better at things you are exposed to all the time.

...the automatic missiles...

I was thinking trap doors built into the roads, but missiles would be a lot more fun.

Around here, the highways have two lanes... it would be stupid to not use half the capacity of the highway

It has nothing to do with using the capacity of the roads and everything to do with common civility. If someone is behind you and wants to drive faster than you are comfortable driving, you should let them pass. Once they've passed--and here's the brilliant bit--you can go right back into the lane as if nothing happened!

That's the part people in the U.S. have such a ludicrously difficult time accepting. "Why should I let ANYONE in front of me? I have every right to sit here going 50mph in the passing lane! MY RIGHTS!!!1! It's that self-important, nobody-matters-but-me attitude that makes me wish pain and dismemberment on my fellow man. You're not losing anything by letting someone pass you. But to an American, letting someone else get in front is like some huge admission of defeat. It's better to block traffic than let someone get in front of you (gasp!).
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:19 AM on June 24, 2008


I can tell you are very upset by the large number of font style changes.
posted by smackfu at 5:24 AM on June 24, 2008 [1 favorite]


C_D you and Mental Wimp aren't saying the same thing. Mental Wimp (as far as I can tell) is advocating for not using the left lane as a traffic lane at all unless passing.
posted by desuetude at 6:37 AM on June 24, 2008


Aaah. No, you're right--I wasn't advocating that. I was suggesting that people get out of the way when faster traffic is trying to pass... that alone would solve a huge part of the problem.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:38 PM on June 24, 2008


I can tell you are very upset by the large number of font style changes.

If you check out my posting history, I think you'll find that I nearly always use typographic inflection. I'm also pretty big on punctuation and capitalization.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:41 PM on June 24, 2008


I was suggesting that people get out of the way when faster traffic is trying to pass...

And I'd be fine with that if people did it. It's just that it's hard to say that in a traffic sign and it amounts to the same thing if people just keep to the right lane unless they need the left to go around slower traffic. Obviously if there is a line of slower cars without much space between them, the faster car should stay in the left lane until the slower cars are passed. There is nearly no loss to pulling into the right lane again if there is a decent distance between the last car passed and the next one, and you don't need to constantly glance in your rear-view mirror to see if anyone is coming up behind you a lot faster than you anticipated (having driven in parts of Europe where 180kph speeds are common, I recognize the value of this).
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:15 PM on June 29, 2008


« Older After breaking up with his band, Justin Vernon ret...  |  Unusual snow globes by Walter ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments