Countdown Markers Sign: Appearance, Usage, Meaning, Actions and Related Signs

Countdown markers signs are rectangular signs with horizontal stripes displayed on motorways, A-roads, and dual carriageways. These signs show the distance to an upcoming exit or concealed level crossing. You should adjust your speed. Prepare for lane changes or stopping as you approach the indicated location. Other similar signs include markers for upcoming junctions or roundabouts. They also include signs for hidden level crossings.

Appearance and Where the Sign is Used

Countdown markers signs are rectangular with a background colour that indicates their purpose.

  • Motorway countdown markers: These signs have a blue background with three white horizontal stripes.
  • Level crossing countdown markers: These signs have a red and white background with three red horizontal stripes.

The number of stripes on the sign shows the distance. It shows the distance to the next exit or level crossing. Three stripes show the furthest distance (usually 300 yards). Two stripes show the middle distance (usually 200 yards). One stripe shows the closest distance (usually 100 yards).

How many colours does a countdown marker sign have?

Countdown marker signs have two colours: a background colour and a stripe colour.

What are the different background colours for countdown markers?

  • Motorway countdown markers: Blue background.
  • Level crossing countdown markers: Red and white background (red stripes on a white background).

How many stripes can be on a countdown marker sign?

There can be one, two, or three stripes on a countdown marker sign.

Where can I see countdown marker signs?

You can see countdown marker signs on motorways, A-roads, and dual carriageways in the UK.

What Does it Mean and How Should You React?

Countdown markers show car drivers the distance to an upcoming exit. They also show the distance to a hidden level crossing. They are on motorways, A-roads, and dual carriageways. The number of stripes on the sign correlates to the distance remaining:

  • Three stripes: This indicates the furthest distance, around 300 yards. You can maintain your current speed for now.
  • Two stripes: This signifies the middle distance, around 200 yards. Start to consider slowing down. Check your mirrors for lane changes or merging traffic.
  • One stripe: This indicates the closest distance, around 100 yards. You should be ready to slow down and signal your need to change lanes (if needed). You might need to stop, depending on the upcoming location.

Here are some key actions to take when approaching a countdown marker sign:

  • Adjust your speed: As the number of stripes decreases, reduce your speed in preparation for the exit or level crossing.
  • Prepare for lane changes: If you plan to use the upcoming exit, check your mirrors and signal early. Do this especially when nearing the one-stripe marker.
  • Be aware of other vehicles: Pay attention to the traffic around you, especially those behind you that may not be slowing down as quickly.
  • Come to a complete stop (if needed): Level crossing countdown markers often come before a stop sign or traffic lights. Be prepared to come to a complete stop if required.

Do I need to slow down for every countdown marker sign?

No, you only need to slow down as the number of stripes on the sign decreases. They show you are getting closer to the exit or level crossing.

What if I miss my exit after seeing a countdown marker?

If you miss your intended exit, do not attempt to stop suddenly or swerve across lanes. Stay at a safe speed. Go to the next exit. Use signs to get back to where you want.

What happens if I don’t see the countdown markers until the one-stripe sign?

If you only see the one-stripe countdown marker, slow down safely. Then, assess the situation. Signal your intention to change lanes (if necessary) and be mindful of other vehicles.

Similar and Related Signs

Several UK road signs share visual elements. They also serve purposes similar to countdown markers.

Similar Signs

These signs have a rectangular shape and may have horizontal stripes. But, they have different meanings and uses.

  • Distance markers: They have black text on a white background. They show the distance to upcoming junctions or roundabouts. They do not indicate the number of lanes or require immediate lane changes.

Related Signs

These signs may have different shapes or colours. But, they provide info about upcoming hazards or changes in road layout.

  • Concealed level crossing warning signs: These signs warn of an upcoming level crossing. The signs are yellow triangles with black stripes. They warn drivers of a crossing that may not be visible at first.
  • Junction warning signs: They are diamond-shaped with yellow backgrounds and black symbols. They give advanced warning of upcoming junctions, roundabouts, or slip roads.

How can I tell the difference between a countdown marker and a distance marker?

Distance markers have black text on a white background. They show the distance to an upcoming junction or roundabout. Countdown markers have stripes. They show the distance to an exit or level crossing.

Do I need to take any specific action when I see a concealed level crossing warning sign?

Concealed level crossing warning signs tell drivers of a potential hazard ahead. Slow down and get ready to stop at a stop sign or traffic lights that may be ahead.

What information do junction warning signs provide?

Junction warning signs use symbols. They describe the junction type (e.g., roundabout, slip road). They show the type you are approaching, so you can plan your manoeuvres.