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Rarely Seen Road Signs

By: Kevin Watson MSc - Updated: 1 Aug 2015 | comments*Discuss
Rarely Seen Road Signs

Any motorist who takes a drive in an urban area will see one road sign after another. Most of these signs relate to speed, junctions, crossings and parking. Every motorist is familiar with them.

Some road signs are far less common, though. They may appear unexpectedly on quiet, rural roads. They may be self-explanatory; or they may need a little thought. Either way, they’re interesting because of their rarity.

No Horse-Drawn Vehicles

Horse-drawn vehicles are few and far between on UK roads. To see a sign that forbids access to horse-drawn vehicles is even rarer. Such a sign exists, however.

The sign is circular with a red border. In the middle on a white background is the image of a horse pulling a cart. On top of the cart is a driver holding the reins of the horse.

Beware of Wild Horses

Most motorists wouldn’t expect to contend with wild horses on a UK road. But there are moorlands and forests where wild horses roam. And through these areas, there are roads for vehicle access.

The roadside warning about wild horses is in the form of a triangular sign with a red border. Inside the border is the image of a galloping horse.

This is distinct from the more common sign that alerts motorists to accompanied horses. In this instance, the image within the triangular red border is that of a person riding a horse that is calmly walking.

Try Your Brakes

“Try Your Brakes” is a request to motorists that appears in another warning triangle.

Such a request may seem potentially dangerous if there are other cars on the road. It may be, however, that a steep descent with sharp corners lies ahead.

Motorists should follow the sign’s advice with care. First ensure that any car behind is some way off.

Grounding Risk

The image on this triangular warning sign is alarming. It shows a lorry with a trailer balanced like a see-saw on a large hump in the road.

The sign warns motorists of obstructions. These are so big they may catch on a chassis and bring a vehicle to a halt.

The obstructions may be permanent features of a road and are likely to be dangerous. If the sign appears, proceed with caution.

Supplementary Plates

Supplementary plates are usually white with a black border and black lettering. They may accompany warning signs or stand on their own. Sometimes they are temporary.

One of the more unusual supplementary plates is one that says “Dust cloud”. This plate is likely to be temporary. Dust clouds in the UK are rare. They may be the result of freak weather conditions. Dust clouds may also drift from quarries where there is blasting.

Another rare supplementary plate is “Play street”. Motorists need to read such plates carefully when they see them. Beneath the words “Play street”, the sign usually gives details of the hours during which the street is a designated play area. These hours could be 9 a.m. to sunset, for example. Further wording may confirm that motorists can use the street for access at any time.

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The main time you'll see "try your brakes" is after a ford (ie a place where the road crosses a shallow stream or river without a bridge) or a place where the road may occasionally be flooded, as water will have covered the friction materials and potentially reduced their stopping power quite considerably. Such crossings and flood-risk roads are relatively rare now (mostly upgraded with small bridges or raised on embankments with culverts underneath) so there aren't too many places that feature the sign any more. Before a steep descent it's more likely you'll see a warning to reduce speed and engage low gear, particularly if towing (as trailers can make it particularly difficult to carry out hard braking whilst staying in control, and it's better to slow down well in advance instead), although I think I have seen the occasional warning to test your brakes are working partway down long descents, usually ahead of turns or junctions guarded with run-off lanes and sand traps so you can decide whether you need to use those facilities.
MrP - 1-Aug-15 @ 12:49 PM
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