Making Sense of No Parking Signs – A Guide for the Puzzled

The movement and parking of vehicles need regulation to permit the free flow of traffic and to ensure the safety of drivers and their passengers. In many cases, when the roads are not wide enough, or there is a need to keep the area free of parked vehicles, the local authorities can notify restrictions on car parking. The restrictions can apply round-the-clock on all days, for certain hours of the day, for specific days, or as the situation demands. The agency responsible for enforcing the parking restrictions is also obligated to install and maintain signs to inform motorists of the restrictions on car parking to enable them to comply with the rules. Violation of no parking rules entails penalties similar to the violation of other traffic rules.

Federal Guidelines Regarding the Display of No Parking Signs

All no-parking signs have to conform to federal government guidelines regarding shape, location, and color. For example, when parking is prohibited at all times or at specific times, the design must include a red border against a white background and a red legend. If cars are allowed to park for a limited time, the border, and the legend should be green against a white background. The information on the sign should read from left to right and from top to bottom. The first information on the sign should be the type of prohibition or restriction on parking, and the times of the day the restriction is valid for must follow immediately. Information on the days of the week, the parking restriction is applicable is next in order. If the restriction applies to a specific area, the limits of the area must be indicated with arrows, or if required, additional custom no parking signs.

Different Types of No Parking Signs

Signs without arrows: When a No Parking sign without arrows is displayed; a curb painted in yellow or red indicating the stretch where parking is not permissible will generally accompany it. In case, there is no marking, the restriction applies to the entire stretch of unbroken curb in both directions. According to the American Safety Council, while people can alight, drivers may not leave their cars in a no-parking zone.

Signs with the arrow pointing left: The parking restriction applies to the left of the sign in the direction of the arrow and extends till the next intersection. There is no parking restriction on the right side of the sign.

Signs with the arrow pointing right: The restriction on parking cars is the opposite of signs with the arrow pointing to the left.

Signs with arrows in both directions: You may not park cars on either side of the sign for the entire distance till the next intersection.

Signs with times and/or days of the week: Motorists may not park during the times and the days mentioned on the sign.


It is vital for drivers of vehicles to fully understand the meaning of the various No Parking signs they encounter on the road. Not understanding what the signs mean can lead to the failure to comply with the rules and the imposition of unnecessary penalties and traffic disruption.

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