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Painted Chevrons: What Do they Mean?

By: Simon McBride - Updated: 12 May 2020 | comments*Discuss
Painted Chevrons: What Do They Mean?

The use of chevrons is commonplace in the UK. Motorists will recognise them from warning signs for bends or they can be painted on the road to warn motorists from driving too close to the car in front.

Chevrons Point the Road Ahead

Chevrons have been used on warning signs for years. The chevrons point to which way the bend goes.

Chevrons on a sign mean sharp deviation of route to the left (or to the right if the sign is reversed)

Another common sighting of chevrons is when you approach a raised roundabout - these chevrons are painted on block paving giving the driver a clear warning of what way the road deviates.

Painted Chevrons on the Motorway

One of the most important usages that chevrons now have are as warnings on motorways and dual carriageways across the UK. They are painted on to the road as a warning to drivers that they should leave at least a two second gap to the vehicle in front. The authorities hope that this will cut accidents caused by vehicles driving too close to each other.

When motorists are driving at 70mph their concentration can lapse, so that they don’t the authorities have painted chevrons at accident black spots on the UK network. The chevrons are usually placed at 40metre intervals and road signs are usually placed before the start of the chevrons to advise drivers to "keep two chevrons apart."

There are usually other signs placed near parts of the road network where chevrons are used. These can state: "Check your distance" and " Tiredness can kill take a break" to further improve safety in these black-spot areas.

Chevrons Reduce Accidents

Research carried out by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) has shown that sections of motorway that have chevrons have shown significant reductions in the number of accidents caused by "close following." The benefits have also been shown to continue for a further 18km beyond a chevron marked stretch.

TRL claims from its research that when chevrons are used on a section of motorway there is a reduction in accidents on the same stretch of road by 56 per cent compared to the same stretch of road before the chevrons were installed.

During this study TRL also carried out a tailgating survey, the findings revealed that motorists when in a stretch of motorway with chevrons tended to leave at least two-second gaps to the vehicle in front. However, after the chevron patch, tailgating did tend to pick up again but TRL believes that chevrons could reduce accidents on the motorway network by being strategically placed.

Chevrons Aid Motorists

Chevrons are a good way of helping motorists keep the two second rule as are the Highways agency signs that state: 'Keep Your Distance' from gantries. But the fact of the matter is that all motorists have a responsibility to keep their distance and drive with care and attention.

The Highway Code recommends that motorists keep a two second gap in dry conditions but in adverse weather this gap should be at least doubled – if you’re on a motorway with a stretch of chevrons then double the chevrons to give yourself the required gap.

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The chevrons painted on the motorways are insufficient to be useful to denote the safe stopping distances.As you say the chevrons are some 40 metres apart so two of them equals 80 metreswhereas the Highway code shows that the full stopping distance at 70 mph is a total of 96 metres so being on;y 80 metres its some 16 metres or aboutsome 60 ft short of the safe stopping distance. All motorways have small marker posts situatedby the side of the hard shoulder and they are some 100 metres apart which is an easierway of understanding the safe stopping distancefor all vehicles. It would be of greater value to the drivers of those vehicle travelling in the outside lane if these market posts were repeated somewhere in the central reservation of motorways so thatall drivers usingthat lane could more easily see what distance they should be giving instead or them tailgating which is very much the case on the third lane. About chevrons in general it would assist all road users if the number of chevrons side by side gave an indication of just how sever that particular bend is.By this I mean a bendthat can be taken at a generalspeed would not be a sever bend but maybe a curve and would havejust one chevron withperhaps others stationed at intervals round the bend as happens at present.However if the bend is more severe then two chevrons together that would indicate that its a bend that one needs to take more slowly and three chevrons indicates a severe bend, maybe up to 90 deg. and requiring one to reduce speed quite a bit and dropping gears. After that a dangerous, closing or reducing bend or one over 90 degshould have the maximum of 4 chevrons.Thesenew chevron signs would be in the Highway Code anddenote the severity of bends to all roadsusers.I thinks something like that would be of benefit and be of more use than all the other signage that has been implemented in the past.Signage that no one or few road users appreciate. If one wants to pre warn road users then where there already is a bend warning sign then why not also place a plate containing the relevant number of chevrons.in yellow and black, that would pre warn all road users of theseverity of an upcoming bend and the chevrons on or around the bend would confirm that same message. Just a few thoughts to try and make road use safer.
Judge Dredd - 12-May-20 @ 1:58 PM
When incidents occur on bends its usual that if they become frequent that some intervention takes place.Hazard lines are painted to warn of the hazard ahead.and in some cases a solid white line or two solid white lines are used to prevent unnecessary and dangerous overtakes that may have occurred on that particular bend.Add to that a bend warning sign and or a speed limit [ non obligatory] or a SLOWsign can be painted on the road.Many such measures can be and are used and these can also include the chevrons.So both statements can be correct at the same time. The fact that there are chevrons their would indicate that numerous accidents have happened on that bend. andora particular bend could be deemed to be dangerous tho few or no accidents have as yet happened and the chevrons indicate thedirection of a bend and to some degree that it is or could be dangerous.
Judge Dredd - 29-Apr-18 @ 7:22 PM
Why on a speed awareness course they say the chevrons are to indicate on a corner how many accidents have happened So why in your statement and in the Highway Code handbook it states chevrons on a bend are to indicate the severity of the bend as a warning . If this is the case why does everyone I ask old and young and those who have just done there driving test say it's the severity of the sharpness of the bend and NOT what your told on a speed awareness course Please reply kind regards Karen Pearson
Doily - 23-Aug-14 @ 12:45 PM
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