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What Do Blue Traffic Signs Mean? 

  • Things To Know
  • Celine Jerly
  • 5 minutes

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White lettering on a blue background is easy to spot. While you are on the road, a blue traffic sign helps you notice important information you might be looking for – find out what it means: 

Most roadway signs in the US now use symbols more than lettering to convey different messages to motorists, pedestrians, and other road users. Symbols not only save space and help communicate instantly, but they are also effective in overcoming language barriers. The color and shape of the sign also play a significant role in making communication smoother. So, it’s important to know what blue traffic signs mean in the US. Here’s a quick look at the different types you’ll find: 

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Also See: What Do Yellow Traffic Signs Mean?

Blue = Services 

The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways (MUTCD) states that blue traffic signs indicate road user services, tourist information, and evacuation routes. USDOT’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) issues the MUTCD to standardize roadway/traffic rules, signs, signals, etc. 

Blue signs provide motorists, pedestrians, and other road users, like bicyclists, information regarding directions, amenities for travelers, driving instructions, and traffic guidance. The type of information on the sign also depends on its shape and location. For example, circular blue traffic signs instruct drivers which lane or route to use. Meanwhile, rectangular signs commonly convey directions or other information.  


Types of Blue Traffic Signs 

  • Route Markers/ Traffic guidance signs: Tells you what kind of road you are on and the distances to your destination on that route. Blue signs also indicate highway entrances/exits ahead. Directions and guidance information will be on longer rectangular signs.  
  • Motorist Services and Recreation Signs: White icons/lettering/business logo on a blue background indicates services like gas stations, parking, lodging, hospitals, rest areas, etc., nearby. You’ll also find information about parks, tent camping areas, and other recreations on blue rectangular signs. 
  • Emergency Notification: Mandatory instructions for motorists in the case of any danger in the area and guidelines for safety. These are usually temporary, like evacuation routes in case of a disaster or threat.  
  • Country roads and private streets: Though inconsistent, some counties nationwide use blue signs for numbered roads. Otherwise, blue street signs are widely used to indicate a private road. 
  • Street Names: Some cities like NYC and LA still have some of their older white-on-blue street signs. NYC’s 34th Street Business Improvement District has a special exception to using blue backgrounds for its street names.  
Blue,Sign,Designated,For parking
ADA Parking Sign

Also See: What Is the Difference between a Freeway and a Highway? 


Get quick answers to all your top queries about blue traffic signs in the USA: 

Where would you find blue signs in the USA? 

You’ll find blue traffic signs across the USA based on standardized rules in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways. Blue commonly indicates Route markers, directions, and other instructions for drivers, services like gas stations and hospitals, and private roads. Some cities like LA and NYC also have blue street name signs.  

What are the blue signs in Texas? 

Apart from the general blue traffic signs, Texas also has TxDOT-approved signs for rural businesses looking to increase traffic to their location from a highway. Blue Tourist-Oriented Directional Signs (TODS) will indicate the business’s name, distance, and directions from the highway.  

Why do some cities have blue street signs? 

As per MUTCD, street signs must be white lettering on a green background. Blue street signs usually indicate private roads or drives not managed by a county. It’s meant to be a quick reference for maintenance personnel, as the city does not maintain these roads. In NYC, 34th Street Business Improvement District is an exception to the MUTCD regulations and uses blue and white for its street names.  

Why are some NYC street signs blue? 

Before MUTCD regulations were adopted, NYC had borough-specific colors for its street signs. The Bronx used white text on a blue background, and Queens used blue text on a white background. Some of these signs still remain. There are also some exceptions to the MUTCD standardization rule – certain areas meeting the federal criteria for special districts can use alternative backgrounds for street signs. 

34th Street Business Improvement District in Midtown Manhattan uses a blue background for street names. It’s 31 contagious blocks from Park Avenue to 10th Avenue and 31st Street to 36th Street. 

What states have blue stop signs? 

Yes, you’ll find blue stop signs, but these are not the typical DoT-approved municipal signs. In some states, the jurisdiction restricts homeowners and others from putting up stop signs near their private propertyespecially in Hawaii. The Blue Stop Sign is a loophole to this law; though not legal, they serve the same purpose as the familiar red stop sign.  

Large parking lots, event venues, and private property not under the control of the county use blue stop signs to ensure the safety of drivers in the area.  

Also See: Stop at Stop Signs: All You Need to Know About Pause Time

Why are street signs blue in Los Angeles? 

In 1939, LA created uniform signage that was easy to read. The Bureau of Engineering designed the blue signs with warhorses – you can still see some of these in Los Angeles. Otherwise, street names with a blue background usually indicate private drives or roadways through private property.  

Learn More About: Traffic Signs and Their Meanings

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