Learn about the Steep Hill Upwards & Downwards road sign.


Approximately 2 minutes reading time

What does the "STEEP HILL UPWARDS & DOWNWARDS" sign mean?

A steep hill is something where a piece of land gradually increases or decreases for a period of time. To know how steep a hill is, there will be a gradient on the roadside, displaying a percentage (%), which is used to advise you (the driver) how steep the hill will become. This allows you as the driver to prepare accordingly to the hazard. 

What does the sign mean?

We all know that you can tell when a road goes uphill or downhill by the size of the arrows. An arrow pointing up means that the road goes uphill, and an arrow pointing down means that it goes downhill. But have you ever seen this sign before? People think it indicates that there are steep hills on both sides of the street, but they're divided into different directions.

Describe what the sign means

This sign is used as an advanced warning sign. Occasionally, there's no sign of an upcoming danger, but also sometimes it means there's another difficult section that comes in the very next section. If you are on a curved road and don't know which direction the arrow points, look at the ground. If the arrow points to the left, there will be a very difficult section on the left. If it points to the right, there will be a very difficult section on the right.

This sign doesn't mean that there are really dangerous sections on both sides of the road, but if you see one of these signs, you should pay attention and be extra cautious.

How common is this sign?

Steep hills can be found almost anywhere close to mountains or hill ranges. You will mostly see this sign in the countryside over the local city, town or village, with the exception of a few. In these areas, steep hill signs are quiet common, whether that sign is a 10%, 20% 30% gradient, etc. 

Where are you likely to see the "STEEP HILL UPWARDS & DOWNWARDS" sign?

1) This sign is often located at a curve or a sharp section where it's hard to see the upcoming sections. It warns drivers to be prepared for a sharp, steep hill coming ahead.

2) On some winding roads with lots of blind curves, this sign is usually located after a very difficult section. It warns drivers that there'll be another difficult section ahead;

3) In some places, this sign is also used when there are no hills, but the road is often icy and slippery.

4) Where an area is mountainous, this sign is also used.

5) Hilly roads in the UK have this sign to warn drivers that there'll be a steep hill coming up or down.

When did this sign first come into action?

This sign was first used in the 1930s. During that era, road construction didn't have the technology and machines that would make roads more streamlined, yet to make the roads safer, they lowered the speed limits on mountainous roads.

Why was this sign created?

Nobody wants to approach an upwards or downwards steep hill without steady preparation beforehand, therefore the sign was invented to fix this. Without the sign, people may not realise the potential danger they will get themselves into. This sign allows drivers to increase or decrease their speed when driving up or down the steep hill.

What does this sign hint at?

If you see this sign, it means that the road ahead may have a dangerous section. So be extra careful when driving on winding roads and always expect the unexpected.


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