Do you know what these parking signs mean?

Road signs are everywhere. They’re part of the fabric of the UK’s road network, helping courier and delivery drivers to drive both safely and within the law.

Brits perplexed by road signs

A 2017 study cited by This is Money found that, worryingly, three quarters of Brits don’t know what basic road signs actually mean.
The signs that drivers struggled with the most were those related to loading zones, restrictions for cars, and bridges. Even the shape and colour of different road signs threw drivers off.
What’s more, even drivers who recently passed their test didn’t know what many of the basic signs meant. Just 14% of drivers under 24 polled said that they were completely confident naming road signs, even though they sat their test within the past seven years.
For example, three quarters of under-24s weren’t able to identify the sign that warned drivers of an approaching hump-back bridge. Meanwhile, two in five didn’t understand the sign for ‘grounding’ – over half believed that it meant ‘bumpy road’.

Mastering road signs as a courier

Suffice to say, if you’re a courier, you need to be a master of road signs – seeing as you’re on the road for the best part of your working day. It’s key to keeping you and other road users safe.
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 Three road signs against a plain backgrond

Order, warn, inform – know your shapes

Did you know that the shapes of signs are an indicator of their category? The RAC explains the general rule that applies:
  • Circular signs give orders and must be followed by law. A sign that’s circular and has a red border means you must not do something (like a U-turn), while blue circles tend to give a positive instruction (like turn right ahead).
  • Triangular signs warn drivers of things like the layout of the road of potential hazards (like sharp benefits. The majority have a red border.
  • Rectangular signs inform drivers. Blue rectangle signs offer information on motorways, green signs are used on primary roads, and white signs give directions on small roads. You could see rectangular signs indicating things like congestion zone charges and bus lanes, too.

Don’t get caught short

No doubt you’ll end up driving under a few bridges during your daily drops – you need to make sure your van can fit underneath them!
First things first: make sure you’re aware of your van’s height. Then, you should look out for triangle signs with a red border a good distance before the bridge.

The signs will contain arrows at the top and bottom and have two measurements. These equivalent imperial and metric measurements let you know that vehicles over a certain height should avoid the bridge or other restriction that lays ahead.
If the arrows are pointing left and right, this means that vehicles over a certain width should steer clear of a narrow route.
You might also spot the low clearance signs in red circles, typically on the bridge itself or a short distance before it. These tell you that it’s an offence for vehicles over the specific height to pass through – you could receive a fine for breaking the law.

No stopping

If you see a sign with a red cross over a blue background, this means that you cannot stop, park, load or unload. However, in some instances the restrictions might only apply during certain times of day (usually the busiest times). This usually means that you’re able to stop outside of this time to make a quick drop-off.
You might also spot a no stopping sign with exceptions for loading – it will often state how long you can stop and load for, which is usually 20 minutes.
Bear in mind that signs will usually be accompanied by markings on the road. For instance, as the Freight Transport Association explains, on London’s red routes double reds mean there’s no stopping at any time, single reds have time restrictions for stopping, while red lines around a loading box mean you can stop in that box to unload for a certain time limit.
Loading and unloading is permitted on double and single yellows in accordance with the local authority rules and limits, unless other restrictions apply (which will be indicated by signs in the area).
 A road sign of a red x over a blue backgrond

Pavement parking

Sometimes, you might need to hop your van on a kerb if the route is narrow. Here’s where you need to look out for a blue sign that shows the letter P and a car either partially or completely mounting the kerb.

Essentially, the sign alone means that it’s permitted, while a line striked through the sign means that it’s prohibited. The sign might also contain time restrictions or indicate that you can partially park on the footway only in marked bays.
It’s worth pointing out that mounting a kerb should be avoided if at all possible. It’s actually unlawful in some areas, so you should also check restrictions from the local authority. Though, it may be allowed on some narrow streets where a parked van wouldn't obstruct pedestrians.

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Policy benefits, features and discounts offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.