It is baffling to know that majority of the road users in Nigeria lack adequate knowledge of the roads they ply daily. And one mistake often made is that we have all seeded the effective utility of the roads to only vehicle drivers, whereas, the road is meant for all, pedestrians and animals, inclusive.
Haven established that, if there is going to be a reduction of accidents on our roads, a thorough knowledge of traffic signs, signals, roads, and pavement markings is compulsory for all drivers and other road users.
The Federal Road Safety in the Nigeria High Way Code defined a road as a path established over land for the passage of vehicles, people, and animals. It provides a dependable pathway for moving people and goods from one place to another.
Roads are typically smooth, paved, or otherwise, prepared to allow easy travel. Historically many roads were simply traditional or local routes without any formal construction or maintenance.
To properly use the roads, the authorities in charge of maintaining and enforcing traffic laws have put in place road signs and markings together with signals to ensure smooth and safe traffic flow.
It is the responsibility of every road user to know them and be able to recognize them immediately. In the case of signs, signals, and markings, road users must obey them without hesitation.
Knowing and applying the rules contained in The Highway Code could significantly reduce road casualties. Cutting the number of deaths and injuries that occur on our roads every day is a responsibility we all share. The Highway Code can help us discharge that responsibility.
Traffic signs tell about traffic regulations. Special hazards and other road conditions, construction areas speed limits, etc. Traffic signs warn you of possible dangers and provide information. They tell you what the rules are and what the road conditions are like.
To properly utilize the roads, one must be familiar with each of the signs and should recognize the special shapes and colors.
So, the signs play several roles which one must be conversant to note. They are:
- Regulatory signs
- Warning signs
- Advisory signs
- Stock signs
- Warning triangles for crashes and breakdowns
- Variable message signs
- Motorway signs
- Priority for buses
- Temporary roadwork signs
Regulatory signs tell you about laws that must be obeyed.
Except for STOP, GIVE WAY and ROUNDABOUT signs, most regulatory signs are rectangles. They are usually black on a white background. Sometimes they also have a colour such as red. Some parking signs are green on white.
Left image: Image Keep to the left of this sign.
Center image: Do not drive beyond this sign.
Right image: You must not turn right or make a U-turn.
Left image: You must not make a U-turn.
Centre image: You must keep right.
Right image: This Street now has lanes traveling in opposite directions.
Left image: All traffic in the left lane must turn left.
Right image: You must turn right.
Warning signs tell you that there may be dangers ahead. They are usually black on a yellow background and are mostly diamond shaped.
Pictures, diagrams, and symbols are used to alert you to danger.
Left image: Crossroads ahead. Center image: The road you are traveling on ends, you must give way to all traffic. Right image: Road conditions will change ahead to two lanes of oncoming traffic.
Left image: The road ahead curves to the right. Centre image: There is a sharp right turn in the road ahead. Right image: Sharp bend to the left ahead
Advisory speed signs are sometimes used together with other signs. They show the maximum speed that is safe in good conditions.
Sometimes other signs are used together with warning signs to advise on how long you should look out for a particular hazard.
The road bends to the right. 55 km/h maximum speed in good conditions.
When you see a sign with a picture of an animal, or words such as ‘stock crossing’, you may be approaching animals on or near the road.
You must slow down or stop to avoid crashing with them. Fines apply if you do not obey these signs.
Stock may be crossing ahead
Warning triangles for crashes and breakdowns
Vehicles with a GVM over 12 tonnes must place a minimum of three warning triangles in breakdown situations. See Heavy Vehicle Drivers’ Handbook for details.
Variable message signs
Variable Message Signs are large electronic signs placed on the side of some roads.
They display messages to warn motorists of changes in normal traffic conditions on the road ahead, such as fog, crashes, road works, congestion and road closures.
These early warnings help provide a safe and efficient traffic flow.
Variable message sign
Motorway signs give information about the start and end of a motorway and the exits from a motorway.
Priority for buses
In a built-up area a bus that has a GIVE WAY sign displayed and signals its intention to pull out from its stopping place, has priority over other traffic, traveling in the left lane or left line of traffic.
Temporary roadwork signs
These signs are used at roadworks. Slow down, look out for any hazards and be prepared to stop. You must obey any signal from a traffic controller and give way to any worker.
Left sign: Traffic controller ahead be prepared to stop(night). Centre sign: Traffic controller ahead be prepared to stop. Right sign: Workers ahead (day)