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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.

Disclaimer: The information in the article is for general purpose information only and should not be constituted as legal advice. This article has been produced by a third party and Jardine Motors does not take any responsibility for the completeness, accuracy, or reliability with respect to the website or the information provided. Article last updated March 2016.