Pennant flags bring to mind sporting championships and ship mastheads, but this sideways, tapering triangle-shaped sign is also used for a single purpose on roadways: alerting drivers to stick to the lane they are in and not pass cars ahead.
Pennant-shaped signs are one of about ten shapes commonly used to communicate with drivers on U.S. roadways. Each of these shapes combines with words, symbols, and background colors to let drivers know information such as maximum speed limits, when to stop or yield, the presence of road hazards and highway facilities, and route markings.
The size, shape, color, and symbols used on road signs are regulated through standards published by the federal government in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways. This publication is the guideline for the design of roadway border edgings, crosswalks, and bike lanes, as well as roadway signs and traffic signal devices, including pennant signs.
What Roadway Pennant Sign Means
The pennant-shape is only used as a road sign to signal a no-passing zone. No passing zones are stretches of roadway where drivers are not allowed to move into the adjacent lane to pass a vehicle in front.
The sideways-pointing triangle of a pennant sign on the road tells drivers to stay in their lane and not pass other vehicles. This particular shape is not used for any other type of message on the road.
Other Road Sign Shapes and Their Meanings
Railroad warning signs are always round, and no other message is conveyed on a round sign except advance warning of a train crossing. A cross-shaped sign is used for railroad crossings.
Octagons with a bright-red background are used exclusively as stop sign shapes, and diamond-shaped road signs mean ‘Warning.’ Red, downward-pointing triangles are only used to tell drivers to ‘Yield’ to other traffic at an intersection or lane merger.
Vertically oriented rectangular signs with white and black colors indicate regulatory information, such as speed limits. Pentagonal shapes alert drivers to school zone signs and mark route numbers on county highways.
Horizontal, green or blue rectangles guide motorists to nearby facilities such as gas stations, restaurants, and points of cultural interest, and trapezoidal signs with dark brown backgrounds are used to signal recreational areas and National Forests.
Pennant signs on roadways are usually made with a bright yellow background with bold lettering saying, ‘No Passing Zone.’ The signs often have a narrow black border around the three edges on the face of the sign. The orientation of the triangle points to the lane where drivers should stay. The DMV meaning of a pennant sign may also be helpful for some drivers in training.
Roadway signs serve an essential purpose in keeping the streets and highways safe for drivers and their passengers. When you see a roadway sign while driving, pay attention and do as the sign tells you. Doing so is safe and sensible driving. Not doing so is against the law.