Custom Traffic Signs
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What do different shapes of traffic signs indicate?

Customized Stop Signs
Although this sign dates to well after the MUTCD standardized shapes, like many optional signs, it displays a certain amount of customization.

When traffic signs were originally conceptualized in the 1920s (but still not quite standardized), the number of sides on a traffic sign indicated the severity of possible dangers faced by drivers. Octagons were used at the most dangerous spots, because of course, two drivers perpendicular to each other barrel through an intersection without stopping are facing an extraordinarily dangerous situation; diamonds indicated less dangerous hazards, and circles prompted drivers to beware of intermittent dangers.

Today, while some of the guidelines of the '20s still hold, others have changed, though there are still broad correlations between the purpose of signs and their shape. The MUTCD sets down the following regulations:

Shape   Signs
Octagon Stop traffic sign Stop
Equilateral triangle (1 point down) Yield Sign Yield
Circle Circle Grade crossing advance warning
Pennant shape/isosceles triangle (longer axis horizontal) No passing - Street Signs No passing
Pentagon (pointed up) School advance warning road sign School advance warning sign (squared bottom corners) County route sign (tapered bottom corners)
Crossbuck (two rectangles in an "X" configuration) Crossbuck - Road Sign Grade crossing
Diamond Diamond-Traffic sign Warning series
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