Road Traffic Signs

This Web Site uses UTF-8 encoding.

Road signs warn, regulate and guide traffic. Different languages cause barriers, so international signs with symbols have been developed in Europe and adopted in most parts of the world. Annex 1 of the Convention on Road Signs and Signals, of 8 November 1968 has 8 categories of signs:

A. Danger warning signs
B. Priority signs
C. Prohibitory or restrictive signs
D. Mandatory signs
E. Special regulation signs
F. Information, facilities or service signs
G. Direction, position or indication signs
H. Additional panels

See also external links.

Dik T. WINTER has excellent collections of international signs. Countries categorize road signs in different ways. Most countries use symbolic signs widely, but Australia and the United States use too many signs with English words only and confuse foreign drivers unable to read them. Even if a native driver understands worded signs, simple symbols are easier and faster to recognize than words. Road signs are better with symbols to facilitate international traffic. Those not knowing common symbols should not be licensed to drive. George SAPOUNTZIS has sent here a portable document file titled Traffic Signs in Greece.

A. Danger warning signs

Danger warning signs are either triangles or diamonds. Signs being triangles are coded Aa with usually red borders, white backgrounds and black symbols. Signs being diamonds are coded Ab with usually black borders, yellow backgrounds and black symbols. Some warning signs also have flashing yellow lights to call for more attention. An exclamation on a sign means general dangers and an additional panel should explain the exact danger, but some countries, especially the United States, just put words on the signs.

Triangles are used in:

Driving on the right

China (yellow background with black border in Mainland)
Finland (yellow background)
France (yellow background for temporary signs)
Greece (yellow background)
Iceland (yellow background)
Italy (yellow background for road work signs)
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea
The Republic of Korea (yellow background)
The Netherlands
The Philippines
Poland (yellow background)
The Russian Federation
Sweden (yellow background)
Taiwan (except construction signs)

Driving on the left

Hong Kong
The United Kingdom

Diamonds are used in:

Driving on the right

Taiwan (for construction signs only, orange background)
The United States (orange background for temporary traffic control)

Driving on the left

Malaysia (orange background for some signs)
New Zealand (orange background for temporary hazard warning signs)
Singapore (orange background for temporary warning)
Thailand (orange background)

B. Priority signs

Priority signs regulate the right-of-way. International yield signs (B1) are downward triangles. Red octagons are for stop signs (B2) only. A sign for a priority road is a yellow diamond with a white border (B3), but it is not used in the United States.

All-way stop signs are used in Canada and the United States but not in Europe. Stop signs and yield signs should be used only where traffic conditions warrant. Using too many stop signs causes reduced effectiveness and more disrespect of all stop signs. Stop signs should be used to regulate the flow of traffic but not the speed.

C. Prohibitory or restrictive signs

Prohibitory or restrictive signs are usually circular with red borders. Most signs have white or yellow background. A slash is used in certain countries to prohibit something. Most slashes are leftward, but rightward slashes are used in a few places, such as India, South Africa and Turkey.

Signs ending restrictions have a black border with rightward black bars. Some countries just add plates saying "END" or its equivalent languages.

International signs prohibiting parking and stopping have blue background. A single slash (mostly leftward, rightward in India) through the blue background in a red circle means no parking. Two slashes forming a cross through the blue background in a red circle means no stopping. Non-standard signs also exist in certain countries.

Most absolute speed limits should be replaced by prima facie speed limits based on 85th percentile speeds. Reasonable and prudent speeds keep changing and make speed cameras illogical. Unreasonable low limits crowd traffic and are more dangerous.

Excessive words on prohibitory and restrictive signs cause major problems in the United States and confuse foreign drivers not understanding English. Think how bad it is if a foreign motorist passes a sign saying "NO MOTOR VEHICLES" in words without understanding it.

D. Mandatory signs

Mandatory signs are usually circular with blue backgrounds. A rightward red slash ends the obligation. A few countries, such as Brazil, Ireland, Mexico and Thailand, use circular mandatory signs with white backgrounds and small red borders that may look like prohibitory signs, but such signs in these countries are for mandatory directions only.

Mandatory and prohibitory signs in Australia, Canada and the United States are white rectangles with black or red symbols or words that may not comply with international designs. Too many words in Australia and the United States confuse foreign drivers.

E. Special regulation signs

Special regulation signs are rectangular and show miscellaneous rules.

F. Information, facilities or service signs

Information, facilities or service signs are rectangular show the services along the roads. Most countries use blue on them.

G. Direction, position or indication signs

Direction, position or indication signs guide users on the roads to where they are going. They are usually rectangular.

H. Additional panels

Additional panels may be attached to main signs for more information.

External links

United Nations Economic Commission for Europe: Legal instruments in the field of transport:
 Convention on Road Signs and Signals, of 8 November 1968

Dik T. WINTER: Traffic sign and signals

International Signs Online: Traffic Signs of the World
Traffic Signal & Road Sign Ring
European Commission - Road Transport - Traffic Rules
General Comments on the European Traffic Code

Driving on the right

Argentina (Spanish)
Señales Viales

Austria (German)
Straßenverkehrsordnung 1960 (Road Traffic Ordinances)
Strassenausrüstung - Johann Wieser - Im Dienste der Verkehrssicherheit

Aruba Traffic Signs

Verkeersreglement (Dutch) = Le code de la route (French) (the Code of the Road)

Brazil (Portuguese)
Sinalização Rodoviária

Belarus (Belarusian) Pravila dorozhnogo dvizheniya (Rules of the Road Traffic)


CA-BC British Columbia: Ministry of Transportation: Site Index:
 Traffic Sign Catalogue, Traffic Signs and Pavement Markings
CA-ON Ontario: Road Signs in Ontario (English) = Les panneaux de signalisation en Ontario (French)
CA-QC Quebec: Signalisation (French)

The People's Republic of China (simplified Chinese)
The mandatory National Standard GB 5768-1999 has the standard of the road signs and markings.
道路交通标志和标线 GB 5768-1999 (Amendments to GB 5768)
中华人民共和国道路交通安全法 (Road Traffic Safety Law of the People's Republic of China)
中华人民共和国道路交通安全法实施条例 (Enacting Act of the Road Traffic Safety Law of the People's Republic of China)
中华人民共和国道路交通管理条例 (Road Traffic Management Act of the People's Republic of China) (repealed on 1 May 2004)
南海公安交警信息网: 道路交通标志图例 (signs and markings)
大连市公安局交通警察支队: 交通标志 (signs)

Denmark (Danish) Tv Skilte

Autokoululiitto: Liikennemerkit (Road signs)

France (French)
Code de la route
Sécurité Routière : La signalisation
Les principaux panneaux de SIGNALISATION ROUTIÈRE en France
La signalisation verticale et horizontale

Germany (German) Straßenverkehrs-Ordnung (StVO) (Road Traffic Ordinances) Getting Around Germany : Driving : Signs & Signals

Hungary (Hungarian) 1/1975. (II. 5.) KPM-BM együttes rendelet a közúti közlekedés szabályairól

Iceland (Icelandic) Umferðarmerkin

Italian and International Road Signs

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea
Road Signs of DPRK

Traffic Signs

The Netherlands (Dutch) Reglement verkeersregels en verkeerstekens (RVV 1990)
= (English) Road Traffic Signs and Regulations in the Netherlands

Poland (Polish) Regulations on aplication
of traffic signs and signals

Código da Estrada (Portuguese) = Road Code (English)
Sinais (Portuguese)

The Russian Federation (Russian) Правила дорожного движения (Rules of the Road Traffic)

Spain (Spanish)
Reglamento General de Circulación

Sweden (Swedish) Sveriges vägmärken, trafiksignaler, vägmarkeringar och polismans tecken
= (English) Swedish road signs, signals, road markings and signals by policemen

Signalisationsverordnung vom 5. September 1979 (SSV) (German)
= Ordonnance du 5 septembre 1979 sur la signalisation routière (OSR) (French)
= Ordinanza del 5 settembre 1979 sulla segnaletica stradale (OSStr) (Italian)

Taiwan (plus Quemoy and Matsu) (traditional Chinese)
道路交通管理處罰條例 (Road Traffic Management and Penalty Act)
道路交通安全規則 (Road Traffic Safety Rules)
道路交通標誌標線號誌設置規則 (Rules of Installation of Road Traffic Signs, Markings and Signals)
汽車考照題庫 (The 2nd through 8th links have signs and other traffic controls.)
認識交通標誌 (similar information as above)

Turkey (Turkish)

The United States Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices
Manual of Traffic Signs

Uruguay (Spanish) Señales de Tránsito

Driving on the left

Standards Australia: Australian Standard AS 1742: Manual of uniform traffic control devices
Australian Road Rules

AU-NS New South Wales: Traffic signs
AU-SA South Australia: Transport SA: Driver's Licence: Driver's Handbook
AU-TS Tasmania: Tasmanian Road Rules
AU-VI Victoria: Road Signs in Victoria
AU-WA Western Australia:
 Traffic Management
 Department for Planning and Infrastructure: Licensing Services:
  The Drive Safe Hand Book: 3.8 Traffic Signs

Hong Kong
Road Users' Code (English) = 道路使用者守則 (traditional Chinese) = 道路使用者守则 (traditional Chinese) (Signs are in Chapter 8.)

India (English, Hindi) Traffic Signs

Irish Road Signs
Rules of the Road

Japan (Japanese)
道路交通法 (Road Traffic Act)
道路交通法施行令 (Enacting Order of the Road Traffic Act)
道路標識何でもコーナー (It also includes signs in many other countries.)
Japanese Road Signs
CFAY Driver's License and Registration Information

Código da Estrada (Portuguese) = 道路法典 (traditional Chinese)
Regulamento do Código da Estrada (Portuguese) = 道路法典規章 (traditional Chinese) (Signs are on the bottom.)

The Highway Code (English) = Kodici ghat-Traffiku fit-Triq (Maltese)

New Zealand
New Zealand Legislation: Traffic Regulations 1976
Land Transport Safety Authority: New Zealand Road Code, Following the signs
New Zealand Hotel and Travel Guide

Road Traffic Act
Land Transport Authority: Other Guidelines & Standards: Code of Practice for Traffic Control at Work Zone

South Africa
Traffic signs, 3M Converter

The United Kingdom
Highway Code
Traffic Signs and Signals
Hosted by