What Does Yield Sign Mean?

Road signs can be confusing sometimes. But I didn’t realize that there is some online controversy and debate about what the yield sign really means.

Yield signs, which is often depicted by the inverted triangle with red lines along the sides of the triangle, can be usually found on merge lanes at freeways, highways, or some intersections.

What is the meaning of the yield sign?

First, let’s talk about what it is NOT.

The YIELD sign is NOT the same as a stop sign. It doesn’t necessarily mean, you should stop. The red octagonal signs mean stop, and there’s no exception there, you should stop when you see it at an intersection. When the road is clear, you can then proceed. There are also some rules for 4-way intersections and who should go first after stopping. But the general rule is that the vehicle who stopped first, gets to go first.

The YIELD sign, on the other hand is a warning to let you know that a vehicle traveling on the other lane has the right of way. It means, you should SLOW DOWN and stop if necessary. You should only proceed when there is no oncoming vehicle. Defer to the car already on the lane you want to go onto.

The yield sign also means a “conditional stop.” Another important thing to remember is that you may cause an accident if you insist on going and turning or merging onto the lane.

If you have any doubt about the rules on the yield sign, I encourage you to go to your state’s DMV website and download your state’s driver’s manual. It will clearly state there what you should do whenever you encounter it.

The bottom line, when driving, you should be mindful of the road signs that you encounter. It is better to drive defensively instead of aggressively. Traffic signs, including the YIELD sign, are meant to protect drivers and motorists from accidents. If you ignore those signs, you run the risk of harming yourself and other people in the process.

So please, the next time you see a yield sign, don’t accelerate. Slow down, observe the lane you are merging or turning into. If there’s an oncoming car or pedestrians walking, be prepared to stop. Then, when it is clear, proceed.


Just a piece of trivia, the first YIELD sign was posted at First St. corner Columbia Ave in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1950. They posted it because that intersection was considered as the most dangerous in the city. They already had laws and ordinances about right of way, but drivers then (pretty much like today) ignored a lot of the rules. So one of the officers at Tulsa, Clinton Riggs, developed the sign that helped solve the problem and evolve to the yield sign that we have today.

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