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Roadworks Signs Explained

Roadworks occur when a road is in need of preparation. This may happen because the road is under pressure with the weight of traffic that uses it or it may be on a mountainous route and is prone to landslides and harsh weathering.

Repairing Accident Damage

Another reason is that an accident may have damaged some of the road safety furniture like warning signs and Armco. When a road has been allocated for repair, a team is usually sent to fix, widen or sometimes even straighten it.

The length of time it takes to repair or build a new road is usually agreed by the DfT and the Highways Agency in the UK and then a time scale is drawn up for the contractor to minimise disruption to the road network.

Roadworks Signs

Normally roadworks are often highlighted with signs that have a yellow background but sometimes these are not placed far enough away to warn motorists of the hazards ahead.

Other items associated with a roadwork’s site are barrier boards, bollards, danger lamps, traffic cylinders and traffic cones which are normally painted in red and white in the UK to warn motorists that they are on a dangerous part of the road network as workmen are putting their lives on the line to complete the roadworks.


Warning Signs

On approaching roadworks motorists would normally see a warning triangle sign with a man with a shovel on it. This signifies that you are approaching an area that is under construction and extra care is needed.

This is usually followed by information signs, which have a yellow background. These inform the motorists on how long this stretch of road will be like this for and it also warns that delays are possible between the start date of the works and the completion date.

Additional Information

These signs may also provide further information if they are placed on motorways, usually these additional signs will tell the motorist of the nature of the works and what the length of the roadworks will be.

Every sign that corresponds to a roadwork’s site has always got a yellow background unless they are the warning triangles that are placed when you are approaching roadworks. Further information signs are placed along the works site.



As you progress into the roadworks and are travelling along a motorway or a dual carriageway your lane may turn into a contraflow and sides of the carriageway.

Do not worry, as the traffic travelling in the opposite direction will be separated by cones that run down the middle of the road. It is usual for contraflows to divide into two lanes with one lane on the correct side of the carriageway and the other on the ‘wrong’ side of the carriageway.

Follow Instructions

If a contraflow is in use make sure you follow the instructions that will be in force from the roadwork’s signs with the yellow background.

One thing to watch out for is that the lane switching sides of the carriageway may have a width restriction so if you are driving a wide vehicle make sure you stay in the correct lane or you could block the road network even further.

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.