Driving in America – The Language of the Road

Obviously there will be terms used in your home country that you are familiar with that will have the same meaning but are just phrased differently in the USA! The following are some of the most important and useful phrases that you will see signs relating to as you travel the roads of the USA, and their meaning for you in your own country.

All Way Stop or a 4 Way Stop: This is defined as a crossroads or series of junctions where traffic coming from all areas must come to a stop at the “Stop” sign or line.

Backing Up: Means to reverse your vehicle. Americans would rarely use the phrase “Reverse your vehicle”!

Carpool Lane: This refers to a traffic flow lane, which is purely for vehicles with many passengers. Can also be called a Diamond Lane.

Citation: This means if someone has been reported to the Police for a road traffic offence.

Crosswalk: This is what we call a pedestrian crossing.

Curve on the road: Means a bend on the road!

Directionals: Refers to the indicators of your vehicle!

Divided Highway: Refers to a Dual Carriageway. A Dual Carriageway is also called a Freeway in the USA.

Emergency Signals: This refers to the hazard lights of your vehicle. Also known as Four Way Flashers.

Four Way: Refers to a Crossroads.

Gas: Means petrol! Gas Pedal means the accelerator of your vehicle. Regular Gas at a service station means unleaded petrol. Remember that if you order twenty regular at a service station you will get twenty dollars worth of petrol not gallons. Remember that a Gas Station in the USA is a Petrol Station! If you are asked to open the Hood of your vehicle in the event of engine trouble, remember that this means the bonnet! The Trunk refers to the boot of your vehicle.

Highway: In principle, this refers to a dual carriageway but it can mean any road that has two or more traffic lanes.

Intersection: This refers to a road junction, both on major and minor roads. Junctions have a road sign displayed as JCT (number) with the road number listed there.

Parkway and Pavement: In the USA, Parkway refers to the road, and Pavement is the road surface! Pavement Markings refer to road markings.

Railroad Crossing: This relates to a Level Crossing used by trains on the railway.

Ramp: In the USA, the Ramp defines the access or exit slip road at the Road junction or intersection.

Rest Rooms: Toilet facilities along the highways, these may be portable toilets or part of a service station.

Rotary: This refers to a Roundabout in many US states.

Shoulder: Refers to the hard shoulder on the side of the road for slower moving traffic.

Sidewalk: This terms means the walking pavement that we would be more familiar with!

Signals or Traffic Signals: Meaning the traffic lights!

Ticket or Citation: This means being reported by the Police by a traffic offence.

Turnpike or Pike: This means a toll road, often on the motorway.

Undivided Highway: This means a single carriageway.

Yield: Means the giving of way to oncoming traffic.

Zipper or Commuter Lane: Both terms relate to a central lane that traffic passes through in different directions at different times of the day, and which could be moving between concrete barriers.

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