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Guidelines for Using Pedestrian Signs

Pedestrian signs are vital to maintaining public safety.  This post will cover some commonly accepted guidelines for their use.  Please note: this is a high-level introduction to the topic.  Consult your state’s MUTCD for detailed instructions.

Types of Pedestrian Signs

·       Pedestrian warning signs remind motorists to be on the alert for pedestrians crossing the street.

·       School crossing signs function in the same way as all other pedestrian notices, except that their use is limited to areas around school buildings.

·       Hiker/biker warning signs are used at trail crossings.  They remind motorists to be on the alert for persons hiking or riding bikes.

Design and Placement of Pedestrian Signs

·       Pedestrian signs should have either fluorescent yellow or fluorescent yellow-green backgrounds.  Yellow-green is indicated in areas such as high crash locations or school zones where the danger of accidents is especially high.

·       Authorities should use pedestrian signs in areas with significant amounts of foot traffic, such as near shopping malls, business districts, or mass transit stations.

·       Crews should not install pedestrian signs in areas with posted speed limits above 35 miles per hour.

·       Installers should place pedestrian signs on an in-street refuge island if one is available.

·       At signalized intersections that permit right turns on red, installers may place a pedestrian sign that reads TURNING TRAFFIC MUST YIELD TO PEDESTRIANS as a friendly reminder to motorists.

·       Actuated pedestrian signs, which include a pushbutton designed to stop the vehicle traffic on demand, should be installed only when strictly necessary as evidenced by traffic studies.

·       If research indicates a pattern of pedestrians lingering in the crosswalk during green signals, then local authorities may consider installing pedestrian signs with a visible countdown feature, reminding those on foot to keep moving.


Pedestrian signs are among the most useful tools in the public safety officer’s toolkit.  When used properly, they can prevent accidents and help to ensure the well-being of all.