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A "route confirmation" sign on the Warrego Highway in Queensland, Australia, informing motorists of their distance (in kilometres) from the places listed
A "route confirmation" sign on the Warrego Highway in Queensland, Australia, informing motorists of their distance (in kilometres) from the places listed
Fingerposts and other road signage in the English village of Sturminster Marshall, near Poole
Fingerposts and other road signage in the English village of Sturminster Marshall, near Poole

Traffic signs or road signs are signs erected at the side of or above roads to give instructions or provide information to road users. The earliest signs were simple wooden or stone milestones. Later, signs with directional arms were introduced, for example the fingerposts in the United Kingdom and their wooden counterparts in Saxony.

Traffic sign in London
Traffic sign in London

With traffic volumes increasing since the 1930s, many countries have adopted pictorial signs or otherwise simplified and standardized their signs to overcome language barriers, and enhance traffic safety. Such pictorial signs use symbols (often silhouettes) in place of words and are usually based on international protocols. Such signs were first developed in Europe, and have been adopted by most countries to varying degrees.

Road sign for roundabout leading to highways 1, 2 and 3 in Mariehamn, Åland.
Road sign for roundabout leading to highways 1, 2 and 3 in Mariehamn, Åland.
Sign in Australia reminding drivers to carry adequate supplies before entering remote areas.
Sign in Australia reminding drivers to carry adequate supplies before entering remote areas.

International conventions

Various international conventions[which?] have helped to achieve a degree of uniformity in Traffic Signing in various countries.[1]

Categories

Sign warning of cattle crossing in a rural road of Madeira Island, Portugal
Sign warning of cattle crossing in a rural road of Madeira Island, Portugal

Traffic signs can be grouped into several types. For example, Annexe 1 of the Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals (1968), which on 30 June 2004 had 52 signatory countries, defines eight categories of signs:

Five or more signs may be displayed on one post. Here a Canadian end-of-road marker appears together with a rural airport sign.
Five or more signs may be displayed on one post. Here a Canadian end-of-road marker appears together with a rural airport sign.
Speed limit traffic sign in Jordan
Speed limit traffic sign in Jordan

In the United States, Canada, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand signs are categorized as follows:

In the United States, the categories, placement, and graphic standards for traffic signs and pavement markings are legally defined in the Federal Highway Administration's Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices as the standard.

A rather informal distinction among the directional signs is the one between advance directional signs, interchange directional signs, and reassurance signs. Advance directional signs appear at a certain distance from the interchange, giving information for each direction. A number of countries do not give information for the road ahead (so-called "pull-through" signs), and only for the directions left and right. Advance directional signs enable drivers to take precautions for the exit (e.g., switch lanes, double check whether this is the correct exit, slow down). They often do not appear on lesser roads, but are normally posted on expressways and motorways, as drivers would be missing exits without them. While each nation has its own system, the first approach sign for a motorway exit is mostly placed at least 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) from the actual interchange. After that sign, one or two additional advance directional signs typically follow before the actual interchange itself.

History

An old road sign of the King's Road between Perniö and Ekenäs in Finland.
An old road sign of the King's Road between Perniö and Ekenäs in Finland.

The earliest road signs were milestones, giving distance or direction; for example, the Romans erected stone columns throughout their empire giving the distance to Rome. According to Strabo, Mauryas erected signboards at distance of 10 stades to mark their roads.[2] In the Middle Ages, multidirectional signs at intersections became common, giving directions to cities and towns.

In 1686, the first known Traffic Regulation Act in Europe was established by King Peter II of Portugal. This act foresaw the placement of priority signs in the narrowest streets of Lisbon, stating which traffic should back up to give way. One of these signs still exists at Salvador street, in the neighborhood of Alfama.

The first modern road signs erected on a wide scale were designed for riders of high or "ordinary" bicycles in the late 1870s and early 1880s. These machines were fast, silent and their nature made them difficult to control, moreover their riders travelled considerable distances and often preferred to tour on unfamiliar roads. For such riders, cycling organizations began to erect signs that warned of potential hazards ahead (particularly steep hills), rather than merely giving distance or directions to places, thereby contributing the sign type that defines "modern" traffic signs.

The development of automobiles encouraged more complex signage systems using more than just text-based notices. One of the first modern-day road sign systems was devised by the Italian Touring Club in 1895. By 1900, a Congress of the International League of Touring Organizations in Paris was considering proposals for standardization of road signage. In 1903 the British government introduced four "national" signs based on shape, but the basic patterns of most traffic signs were set at the 1908 International Road Congress in Paris.[citation needed] In 1909, nine European governments agreed on the use of four pictorial symbols, indicating "bump", "curve", "intersection", and "grade-level railroad crossing". The intensive work on international road signs that took place between 1926 and 1949 eventually led to the development of the European road sign system. Both Britain and the United States developed their own road signage systems, both of which were adopted or modified by many other nations in their respective spheres of influence. The UK adopted a version of the European road signs in 1964 and, over past decades, North American signage began using some symbols and graphics mixed in with English.

In the U.S., the first road signs were erected by the American Automobile Association (AAA). Starting in 1906, regional AAA clubs began paying for and installing wooden signs to help motorists find their way. In 1914, AAA started a cohesive transcontinental signage project, installing more than 4,000 signs in one stretch between Los Angeles and Kansas City alone.[3]

Over the years, change was gradual. Pre-industrial signs were stone or wood, but with the development of Darby's method of smelting iron using coke-painted cast iron became favoured in the late 18th and 19th centuries. Cast iron continued to be used until the mid-20th century, but it was gradually displaced by aluminium or other materials and processes, such as vitreous enamelled and/or pressed malleable iron, or (later) steel. Since 1945 most signs have been made from sheet aluminium with adhesive plastic coatings; these are normally retroreflective for nighttime and low-light visibility. Before the development of reflective plastics, reflectivity was provided by glass reflectors set into the lettering and symbols.

New generations of traffic signs based on electronic displays can also change their text (or, in some countries, symbols) to provide for "intelligent control" linked to automated traffic sensors or remote manual input. In over 20 countries, real-time Traffic Message Channel incident warnings are conveyed directly to vehicle navigation systems using inaudible signals carried via FM radio, 3G cellular data and satellite broadcasts. Finally, cars can pay tolls and trucks pass safety screening checks using video numberplate scanning, or RFID transponders in windshields linked to antennae over the road, in support of on-board signalling, toll collection, and travel time monitoring.

Yet another "medium" for transferring information ordinarily associated with visible signs is RIAS (Remote Infrared Audible Signage), e.g., "talking signs" for print-handicapped (including blind/low-vision/illiterate) people. These are infra-red transmitters serving the same purpose as the usual graphic signs when received by an appropriate device such as a hand-held receiver or one built into a cell phone.

Then, finally, in 1914, the world's first electric traffic signal is put into place on the corner of Euclid Avenue and East 105th Street in Cleveland, Ohio, on August 5.[citation needed]

Africa

"T" junction road sign on a desert track in Niger.
"T" junction road sign on a desert track in Niger.
Traffic sign in Eritrea
Traffic sign in Eritrea

Angola

Road signs in Angola are particularly modelled on the Portuguese road signs since Angola is a former Portuguese colony.

Botswana

Main article: Road signs in Botswana

Mauritius

Main article: Road signs in Mauritius

Road signs in Mauritius are regulated by the Traffic Signs Regulations 1990. They are particularly modelled on the British road signs since Mauritius is a former British colony. Mauritius has left-hand traffic.

Sierra Leone

Road signs in Sierra Leone are standardized road signs and closely follow those used in Italy with certain distinctions. They are written in English.[citation needed]

Asia

Traffic sign demonstrating direction to Kuwait City, Kuwait
Traffic sign demonstrating direction to Kuwait City, Kuwait

Road signs in Asia differ by country. Typically, Asian countries closely follow Europe in terms of road sign design, which means they are influenced by both the Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals and road signage standards of the European Union.[4] In Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, road signs closely follow those used in Latin America, being influenced by both the Vienna Convention and the MUTCD, the only difference being the use of blue circle instead of the letter E or P.

Asian Highway signs are marked using white letters on a dark blue background. In Turkey and Russia, both Asian and European route numbers are signed (the latter in white on green), this is not the case in many other Asian countries.

Armenia

Main article: Road signs in Armenia

Azerbaijan

Main article: Road signs in Azerbaijan

Bangladesh

Main article: Road signs in Bangladesh

Brunei

Main article: Road signs in Brunei

Cambodia

Main article: Road signs in Cambodia

In Cambodia, road signs are prescribed by the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, of Cambodia.[5] Cambodian road signage practice closely follows those used in Europe, with the exception of warning signs which follow the American MUTCD, matching the designs used in neighbouring Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Road signs in Cambodia use Helvetica for English language text.

China

Main article: Road signs in China

A variety of road signs are used in mainland China, specified in the Guobiao standard GB 5678-2009. Most road signs in China, like warning signs, appear to adopt the practices of the ISO standards not intended for use in traffic signage, which are ISO 3864 and ISO 7010.

Direction signs have these colours:

Hong Kong

Main article: Road signs in Hong Kong

Road signs in Hong Kong
Road signs in Hong Kong
A street sign in Central, Hong Kong
A street sign in Central, Hong Kong

Hong Kong's traffic signs follow the British road sign conventions and are bi-lingual in English and Chinese (English on top, and Traditional Chinese characters at the bottom).

Macau

Road signs in Macau are inherited from pre-1994/1998 reform Portuguese road signages. They are written in Chinese and Portuguese.

Taiwan

Road signs in Taiwan are reminiscent of the early 1940s Japanese road signage, which was used in Japan itself until 1950,[6] this means that Taiwan is lenient towards European road signs in terms of road sign design, but with some influences from road signs used in Japan and China.

Georgia

Main article: Road signs in Georgia (country)

India

Main article: Road signs in India

Road signs in the Republic of India are similar to those used in some parts of the United Kingdom, except that they are multilingual. Most urban roads and state highways have signs in the state language and English. National highways have signs in the state language and English.

Indonesia

Main article: Road signs in Indonesia

Warning signs for a camel are common in the Arabian Peninsula region.
Warning signs for a camel are common in the Arabian Peninsula region.

Iran

Main article: Road signs in Iran

Road signs in Iran mainly follow the Vienna Convention. Signs are in Persian and English.

Israel

Main article: Road signs in Israel

Road signs in Israel mainly follow the Vienna Convention, but have some variants.

Japan

Main article: Road signs in Japan

Japanese stop sign with the word Tomare (止まれ), meaning Stop
Japanese stop sign with the word Tomare (止まれ), meaning Stop

Road signs in Japan are either controlled by local police authorities under Road Traffic Law (道路交通法, Dōro Kōtsūhō) or by other road-controlling entities including Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, local municipalities, NEXCO (companies controlling expressways), under Road Law (道路法, Dōrohō). Most of the design of the road signs in Japan are similar to the signs on the Vienna Convention, except for some significant variances, such as stop sign with a red downward triangle. The main signs are categorized into four meaning types:

Kazakhstan

Main article: Road signs in Kazakhstan

Korea

Main article: Road signs in South Korea

A typical South Korean road sign for a double curve
A typical South Korean road sign for a double curve

Both North Korea and South Korea have their own road signage systems.

Road signs in South Korea are standardised and regulated by the Korean Road Traffic Authority. South Korean road signage closely follow those used in Europe with some influences from Japanese road signage.

Road signs in North Korea differ by locale. Most of the time, they tend to follow Chinese practices instead of European practices, and some are unique to North Korea, so they never appear elsewhere.

South Korea follows the Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals as an original signatory. North Korea is not a signatory to the convention and instead follows the colour schemes of ISO 3864.[7]

Kyrgyzstan

Main article: Road signs in Kyrgyzstan

Laos

Main article: Road signs in Laos

Malaysia

Main article: Road signs in Malaysia

Mongolia

Main article: Road signs in Mongolia

Nepal

Main article: Road signs in Nepal

Pakistan

Main article: Road signs in Pakistan

Philippines

Main article: Road signs in the Philippines

Philippines winding road ahead sign
Philippines winding road ahead sign
Route marker sign for Asian Highway 26, as seen on EDSA and the Maharlika Highway.
Route marker sign for Asian Highway 26, as seen on EDSA and the Maharlika Highway.

Road signs in the Philippines are standardized in the Road Signs and Pavement Markings Manual, published by the Department of Public Works and Highways. Philippine road signage practice closely follow those used in Europe, but with local adaptations and some minor influences from the US MUTCD and Australian road signs. However, some road signs may differ by locale, and mostly diverge from the national standard. For example, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has used pink and light blue in its signage for which it has been heavily criticised.[8][9]

Road signs in the Philippines are classified as:

Regulatory road signs – other than the stop and give way signs – are generally circular, with (for prohibitions) a black symbol on a white background within a red border, or (for mandatory instructions) a white symbol on a blue background. In some cases circular regulatory signs are placed on white rectangular panels together with text supplementing their meanings.

Most warning signs display a black symbol on a white background within a red-bordered equilateral triangle. Since 2012, however, a more visibly distinctive design (taken from that used for school signs in the US) has been adopted for pedestrian-related signs: these consist of a fluorescent yellow-green pentagon with black border and symbol. Additional panels may be placed below signs to supplement their meanings.

Guide signs are divided into directional signs, service area signs, route markers, and tourist-related signs, with influence from both American and Australian practice. Directional signs use a green background with white letters and arrows. Service area signs use a blue background with white letters, arrows, and symbols. Tourist-related signs use a brown background with white letters, arrows, and symbols. The route marker sign, excluding the AH26 route marker, is based on the Australian National Route marker, but reserved for future use.

Signs on expressways mostly take elements from Australian motorway/freeway signs. Exit signs, wrong way signs and start/end of expressway signs are very similar to Australian freeway signage. Traffic instruction signs are textual signs used to supplement warning and regulatory signs.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi road sign
Saudi road sign

Main article: Road signs in Saudi Arabia

Road signs in Saudi Arabia frequently show their text both in Arabic and English. Road signs also indicate which part of the road is for Muslims, and which part is for non-Muslims, for instance near Mecca.[10]

Singapore

Main article: Road signs in Singapore

Singapore's traffic signs closely follow British road sign conventions, although the government has introduced some changes to them.

Sri Lanka

Main article: Road signs in Sri Lanka

Road signs in Sri Lanka are standardized road signs and closely follow those used in Europe with certain distinctions. A number of changes have introduced road signs that suit local roads and systems. Sri Lankan government announced by a gazette that aimed to give signage a face-lift and introduce over 100 new road traffic signs.

Thailand

Main article: Road signs in Thailand

Road signs in Yasothon Province, TH
Road signs in Yasothon Province, TH

Road signs in Thailand are standardised and are uniform throughout the country. Since the late twentieth century, Thai road signage practice closely follows the designs used in the United States, Europe and Japan. Road signs are often written in Thai language and display in metric units. In tourist areas, English is also used for important public places such as tourist attractions, airports, railway stations, and immigration checkpoints. Destinations on direction signage is written are written in both Thai and English.

Road signs in Thailand are classified as:

Turkey

Main article: Road signs in Turkey

United Arab Emirates

Main article: Road signs in United Arab Emirates

Uzbekistan

Main article: Road signs in Uzbekistan

Vietnam

Main article: Road signs in Vietnam

Road signs in Vietnam are standardized road signs closely follow those used in China with certain distinctions. They are written in Vietnamese.


Europe

The first road signs established in Czechoslovakia on 1 November 1935: six blue-white danger warning signs. They were later supplanted with red-white-black signs.
The first road signs established in Czechoslovakia on 1 November 1935: six blue-white danger warning signs. They were later supplanted with red-white-black signs.
Road signs in Pirkkala, Finland guiding a motorist to the motorway leading to Vaasa, Helsinki and Tampere.
Road signs in Pirkkala, Finland guiding a motorist to the motorway leading to Vaasa, Helsinki and Tampere.
Keep right, Portugal.
Keep right, Portugal.
Road sign in Beussent, France - entrance to built up area with an implied 50 kilometres per hour (31 mph) speed limit.
Road sign in Beussent, France - entrance to built up area with an implied 50 kilometres per hour (31 mph) speed limit.

The standardization of traffic signs in Europe commenced with the signing of the 1931 Geneva Convention concerning the Unification of Road Signals by several countries. The 1931 Convention rules were developed in the 1949 Geneva Protocol on Road Signs and Signals.

In 1968, the European countries signed the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic treaty, with the aim of standardizing traffic regulations in participating countries in order to facilitate international road traffic and to increase road safety. Part of the treaty was the Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals, which defined the traffic signs and signals. As a result, in Western Europe the traffic signs are well standardized, although there are still some country-specific exceptions, mostly dating from the pre-1968 era.

The principle of the European traffic sign standard is that certain shapes and colours are to be used with consistent meanings:

Directional signs ("guide signs" in American parlance) have not been harmonized under the convention, at least not on ordinary roads. As a result, there are substantial differences in directional signage throughout Europe. Differences apply to the choice of typeface, arrows and, most notably, colours. The convention does, however, specify that the type of directional signage used should, for each country, distinguish limited-access roads ("motorways") from ordinary, all-purpose roads.

Directional signage on motorways uses:

Differences are greater for non-motorways:

The black-on-white signposting of secondary roads distinguishes them from primary roads in Finland, France, Portugal, the Republic of Ireland, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. In Germany, Hungary, Italy, Romania, and Sweden black-on-white indicates urban-only roads or urban destinations.

The signposting of road numbers also differs greatly, except that European route numbers, if displayed, are always indicated using white characters on a green rectangle. European route numbers are, however, not signed at all in the United Kingdom, Ukraine and Albania.

The Convention recommends that certain signs – such as "STOP", "ZONE", etc. – be in English; however, use of the local language is also permitted. If a language uses non-Latin characters, a Latin-script transliteration of the names of cities and other important places should also be given. Road signs in the Republic of Ireland are bilingual, using Irish and English. Wales similarly uses bilingual Welsh–English signs, while some parts of Scotland have bilingual Scottish Gaelic–English signs. Finland also uses bilingual signs, in Finnish and Swedish. Signs in Belgium are in French, Dutch, or German depending on the region. In the Brussels Capital Region, road signs are in both French and Dutch. Signs in Switzerland are in French, German, Italian, or Romansh depending on the canton.

European countries – with the notable exception of the United Kingdom, where distances and lengths are indicated in miles, yards, feet, and inches, and speed limits are expressed in miles per hour – use the metric system on road signs.

For countries driving on the left, the convention stipulates that the traffic signs should be mirror images of those used in countries driving on the right. This practice, however, is not systematically followed in the four European countries driving on the left; United Kingdom, Cyprus, Malta and the Republic of Ireland. The convention permits the use of two background colours for danger and prohibition signs: white or yellow. Most countries use white, with a few – such as Finland, Iceland, Poland, and Sweden – opting for yellow as this tends to improve the winter-time visibility of signs in areas where snow is prevalent. In some countries, such as France or Italy, white is the normal background colour for such signs, but yellow is used for temporary signage (as, for example, at road works).

European traffic signs have been designed with the principles of heraldry in mind;[citation needed] i.e., the sign must be clear and able to be resolved at a glance. Most traffic signs conform to heraldic tincture rules, and use symbols rather than written texts for better semiotic clarity.

Albania

Albanian road signs are similar to Italian road signs, hence both follow the same convention on road sign design set out by the Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals.

Austria

Main article: Road signs in Austria

Belarus

Main article: Road signs in Russia and Belarus

Belgium

Main article: Road signs in Belgium

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Main article: Road signs in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Croatia

Croatian road signs follow the Vienna convention (SFR Yugoslavia was the original signatory for Croatia, which is now a contracting party itself). The most common signs are:

In the first years following Croatia's independence, its traffic signs were the same as in the rest of the former Yugoslavia. In the early 2000s, replacement of the yellow background of warning signs began, and new signs now use a white background.

The signage typeface is SNV, as with the other countries of the former Yugoslavia.

Czech Republic

Main article: Road signs in Czechia

Denmark

Main article: Road signs in Denmark

Estonia

Main article: Road signs in Estonia

Finland

Main article: Road signs in Finland

France

Main article: Road signs in France

Germany

Main article: Road signs in Germany

Greece

Main article: Road signs in Greece

Iceland

Main article: Road signs in Iceland

Road signs in Iceland mainly follow the Vienna Convention, but use a variant of the colour scheme and minor design changes similar to the signs in Sweden.

Ireland

Advance directional sign in for a roundabout in Ireland. The green background indicates that this sign is on a national road, with the blue patches left and right indicating a motorway (with symbol) and the white patches indicating a regional road or local road.
Advance directional sign in for a roundabout in Ireland. The green background indicates that this sign is on a national road, with the blue patches left and right indicating a motorway (with symbol) and the white patches indicating a regional road or local road.
Irish warning sign

Main article: Road signs in Ireland

Until the partition of Ireland in 1922 and the independence of the Irish Free State (now the Republic of Ireland), British standards applied across the island. In 1926 road sign standards similar to those used in the UK at the time were adopted.[12] Law requires that the signs be written in both Irish and English.

In 1956, road signs in the Republic were changed from the UK standard with the adoption of US-style "diamond" signs for many road hazard warnings (junctions, bends, railway crossings, traffic lights).[13] Some domestic signs were also invented, such as the keep-left sign (a black curved arrow pointing to the upper-left, although some are similar to the European "white arrow on blue disk" signs), while some other signs are not widely adopted outside Ireland, such as the no-entry sign (a black arrow pointing ahead in a white circle with a red slashed circumference).

Directional signage is similar to current United Kingdom standards. The same colours are used for directional signs in Ireland as in the UK, and the UK Transport and Motorway fonts are used. Unlike Wales and Scotland, where Welsh and Gaelic place-names use the upright Transport face, Irish place-names are rendered in an italic face.

In January 2005 Ireland adopted metric speed limits. Around 35,000 existing signs were replaced and a further 23,000 new signs erected bearing the speed limit in kilometres per hour. To avoid confusion with the old signs, each speed limit sign now has "km/h" beneath the numerals. Also, since the adoption of signs based on the Warboys Committee standard in 1977, Irish directional signs have used the metric system; however, unlike with the later speed limit changeover, there was no effort made to change the existing signage, and as of 2007 many finger posts still remain on rural roads with distances in miles, although the numbers continue to decline as roads are improved.

In late 2007 Ireland began an extensive programme of sign and post replacement. Good examples are the M1 (DublinDundalk) and the M50 (Dublin). While being mostly the same as the old signs, it is welcome as a lot of the signs were damaged/stained. About half of the new posts are now two medium posts with crosshatched metal posts in-between instead of one large pole to minimise the damage in case of a crash.

Italy

Main article: Road signs in Italy

Latvia

Road signs in Latvia largely adhere to Vienna Convention guidelines. In detailed design they closely resemble the signs used in Germany.

Liechtenstein

Main article: Road signs in Switzerland and Liechtenstein

Lithuania

Main article: Road signs in Lithuania

Malta

Main article: Road signs in Malta

Netherlands

Main article: Road signs in the Netherlands

Road signs in the Netherlands follow the Vienna Convention. Directional signs (which have not been harmonized under the convention) always use blue as the background colour. The destinations on the sign are printed in white. If the destination is not a town (but an area within town or some other kind of attraction), that destination will be printed in black on a separate white background within the otherwise blue sign.

The Netherlands always signposts European road numbers where applicable (i.e., on the advance directional signs, the interchange direction signs and on the reassurance signs). Dutch national road numbers are placed on a rectangle, with motorways being signposted in white on a red rectangle (as an Axx) and primary roads in black on a yellow rectangle (as Nxx). When a motorway changes to a primary road, its number remains the same, but the A is replaced by the N. So at a certain point the A2 becomes N2, and when it changes to a motorway again, it becomes A2 again.

Signs intended for bike-riders always go on white signs with red or green letters.

The Dutch typeface, known as ANWB-Ee, is based on the US typeface. A new font, named ANWB-Uu (also known as Redesign), has been developed in 1997 and appears on many recent Dutch signs. On the motorways however the typeface remains the ANWB-Ee or a similar typeface. The language of the signs is typically Dutch, even though bilingual signs may be used, when the information is relevant for tourists.

Norway

Main article: Road signs in Norway

Upper left and right and middle right are standard directional signs. Lower left is for a commercial facility, and lower right is for a temporary detour.
Upper left and right and middle right are standard directional signs. Lower left is for a commercial facility, and lower right is for a temporary detour.

Signs in Norway mostly follow the Vienna Convention, except the polar bear warning sign, which is a white bear on a black background and a red border. These are the directional signs:

The signs for road numbering are rectangular, and have this colour scheme:

Poland

Main article: Road signs in Poland

The road signs in Poland follow the Vienna convention. Poland chose yellow as the background colour for warning signs (an alternative allowed under the convention), rather than the much more widely adopted white. The typeface used on Polish road signs is a bespoke one, created in 1975, replaced the former signage typeface that resembles NT Cornelia typeface[14] and specified by the Regulations of 3 July 2003, as amended.[15][16] There are two fonts available for download, both being digitalisations of the original specification: one is Tablica Drogowa (freeware for non-commercial use, paid licence required otherwise),[17] another is Drogowskaz (freeware for non-commercial use, see licence text for conditions of other use).[18]

Russia

Main article: Road signs in Russia and Belarus

Scotland

Main article: Gaelic road signs in Scotland

Serbia

Main article: Road signs in Serbia

Sweden

Swedish elk warning sign
Swedish elk warning sign

Main article: Road signs in Sweden

The road signs in Sweden mostly follow the Vienna Convention with a few adaptations, however, allowed within the convention:

The signage typeface Tratex is used exclusively in Sweden and is available as freeware.[19]

Switzerland and Liechtenstein

Swiss signpost in table format
Swiss signpost in table format

Main article: Road signs in Switzerland and Liechtenstein

Even though Switzerland is not a member of the EU, the road signs mostly follow the Vienna Convention with a few adaptations and exceptions. Road signs are categorized as follows:

Distances and other measurements are displayed in metric units. Starting 2003, ASTRA-Frutiger is the typeface used to replace SNV, which is still used in several European countries.[20]

Major exceptions from the norm are:

Swiss sign no. 4.05 Mountain postal road

Ukraine

Main article: Road signs in Ukraine

Road signs in Ukraine broadly conform to European norms, and they are based on the road signage systems used consistently throughout the former USSR.

Unlike the United Kingdom, France and other European countries, Ukraine, unusually, does not signpost route numbers at all, which can lead into ambiguity in terms of finding a destination.

United Kingdom

One of the more unusual UK road signs, at the Magic Roundabout in Swindon
One of the more unusual UK road signs, at the Magic Roundabout in Swindon
Bilingual road sign in Wales
Bilingual road sign in Wales

Main article: Road signs in the United Kingdom

Traffic signing in the UK conforms broadly to European norms, though a number of signs are unique to Britain and direction signs omit European route numbers. The current sign system, introduced on 1 January 1965, was developed in the late 1950s and early 1960s by the Anderson Committee, which established the motorway signing system, and by the Worboys Committee, which reformed signing for existing all-purpose roads. (For illustrations of most British road signs, see 'Know your traffic signs'[21] on the GOV.UK website.)

The UK remains the only Commonwealth country to use non-metric (Imperial) measurements for distance and speed, although "authorised weight" signs have been in metric tonnes since 1981 and there is currently a dual-unit (metric first) option for height and width restriction signage, intended for use on safety grounds. On motorways kilometre signs are visible at intervals of 500 metres (1,600 ft) indicating the distance from the start of the motorway. (See Driver location sign).

Three colour schemes exist for direction signs:

Two typefaces are specified for British road signs. Transport "Medium" or Transport "Heavy" are used for all text on fixed permanent signs and most temporary signage, depending on the colour of the sign and associated text colour; dark text on a white background is normally set in "Heavy" so that it stands out better. However route numbers on motorway signs use a taller limited character set typeface called "Motorway".

Signs are generally bilingual in all parts of Wales (English/Welsh or Welsh/English), and similar signs are beginning to be seen in parts of the Scottish Highlands (English/Scottish Gaelic).

All signs and their associated regulations can be found in the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions,[22] as updated by the TSRGD 2008, TSRGD 2011 and TSRGD 2016 and complemented by the various chapters of the "Traffic Signs Manual".

Wales

Main article: Road signs in Wales

North America and Oceania

Handicap sign
Handicap sign
One of Catskill Park's distinctive brown town signs with yellow text, showing the hamlet of Pine Hill
One of Catskill Park's distinctive brown town signs with yellow text, showing the hamlet of Pine Hill

In North America (including Mexico) these colours normally have these meanings. These are standard but exceptions may exist, especially outside the US:

The US Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices prescribes four other colours: [24]

Regulatory signs are also sometimes seen with white letters on red or black signs. In Quebec, blue is often used for public services such as rest areas; many black-on-yellow signs are red-on-white instead.

Many US states and Canadian provinces now use fluorescent orange for construction signs.[26]

Rural highway sign, Saskatchewan.
Rural highway sign, Saskatchewan.

Highway symbols and markers

Every state in the U.S. and province in Canada has different markers for its own highways, but uses standard ones for all federal highways. Many special highways – such as the Queen Elizabeth Way, Trans-Canada Highway, and various auto trails in the U.S. – have used unique signs. Counties in the US sometimes use a pentagonal blue sign with yellow letters for numbered county roads, though the use is inconsistent even within states.

In Australia, the five states have alphanumeric markers for their own highways, based on the Great Britain road numbering scheme of 1963. Tasmania was the first state to implement this scheme in 1979.[27] "M" roads signified motorways, "A" roads signified primary highways, "B" roads signified less significant roads and "C" roads linked smaller settlements. Western Australia never implemented the alphanumeric scheme, instead retaining the shield system.[28]

Units

Distances in traffic signs generally follow the measurement system in use locally: that is to say, the metric system in all countries of the world except Burma, Liberia, the United Kingdom, and the United States – although in the UK, all distances shown on road signs in TSRGD 2002 by the Department for Transport must be in yards, miles or fractions of a mile but metric units are used on width and height clearances[29], and in the US, the MUTCD 2000[30] and 2003[31] editions developed by the Federal Highway Administration contain (but rarely used) metric versions of the signs, although some of the metric editions of the signs do get used outside of the US.

Languages

Multilingual road signs in Mistissini, Quebec in Cree, English, and French.
Multilingual road signs in Mistissini, Quebec in Cree, English, and French.

Where signs use a language, the recognized language/s of the area is normally used. Signs in most of the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are in English. Quebec uses French. In contrast, the New Brunswick, Jacques-Cartier, and Champlain bridges, in Montreal (as well as some parts in the West Island), use both English and French, and a number of other provinces and states, such as Ontario, Manitoba, and Vermont use bilingual French–English signs in certain localities. Mexico uses Spanish. Within a few miles of the US–Mexico border, road signs are often in English and Spanish in places like San Diego, Yuma, and El Paso. Indigenous languages, mainly Nahuatl as well as some Mayan languages, have been used as well.

In both Canada and Mexico, pictorial signs are common compared to the US, where many signs are simply written in English.

Typefaces

The typefaces predominantly used on signs in the US and Canada are the FHWA alphabet series (Series B through Series F and Series E Modified). Details of letter shape and spacing for these alphabet series are given in "Standard Alphabets for Traffic Control Devices", first published by the Bureau of Public Roads (BPR) in 1945 and subsequently updated by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). It is now part of Standard Highway Signs (SHS), the companion volume to the MUTCD which gives full design details for signfaces.

Initially, all the alphabet series consisted of uppercase letters and digits only, although lowercase extensions were provided for each alphabet series in a 2002 revision of SHS. Series B through Series F evolved from identically named alphabet series which were introduced in 1927.

Straight-stroke letters in the 1927 series were substantially similar to their modern equivalents, but unrounded glyphs were used for letters such as B, C, D, etc., to permit more uniform fabrication of signs by illiterate painters. Various state highway departments and the federal BPR experimented with rounded versions of these letters in the following two decades.

The modern, rounded alphabet series was finally standardized in 1945 after rounded versions of some letters (with widths loosely appropriate for Series C or D) were specified as an option in the 1935 MUTCD and draft versions of the new typefaces had been used in 1942 for guide signs on the newly constructed Pentagon road network.

The mixed-case alphabet now called Series E Modified, which is the standard for destination legend on freeway guide signs, originally existed in two parts: an all-uppercase Series E Modified, which was essentially similar to Series E, except for a larger stroke width, and a lowercase-only alphabet. Both parts were developed by the California Division of Highways (now Caltrans) for use on freeways in 1948–1950.

Initially, the Division used all-uppercase Series E Modified for button-reflectorized letters on ground-mounted signs and mixed-case legend (lowercase letters with Series D capitals) for externally illuminated overhead guide signs. Several Eastern turnpike authorities blended all-uppercase Series E Modified with the lowercase alphabet for destination legends on their guide signs.

Eventually, this combination was accepted for destination legend in the first manual for signing Interstate highways, which was published in 1958 by the American Association of State Highway Officials and adopted as the national standard by the BPR.

Uses of non-FHWA typefaces

Some traffic signs, such as the left-turn prohibition sign hanging from this gantry, are lit for better visibility, particularly at night or in inclement weather.
Some traffic signs, such as the left-turn prohibition sign hanging from this gantry, are lit for better visibility, particularly at night or in inclement weather.

The US National Park Service uses NPS Rawlinson Roadway, a serif typeface, for guide signage; it typically appears on a brown background. Rawlinson has replaced Clarendon as the official NPS typeface, but some states still use Clarendon for recreational signage.

Georgia, in the past, used uppercase Series D with a custom lowercase alphabet on its freeway guide signs; the most distinctive feature of this typeface is the lack of a dot on lowercase i and j. This was discontinued in 2012.[32] More recent installations appear to include the dots.[33]

The Clearview typeface, developed by US researchers to provide improved legibility, is permitted for light legend on dark backgrounds under FHWA interim approval. Clearview has seen widespread use by state departments of transportation in Arkansas, Arizona,[34] Illinois,[35] Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont, and Virginia. The Kansas Turnpike Authority has also introduced Clearview typeface to some of its newer guide signs along the Kansas Turnpike, but the state of Kansas continues to use the FHWA typefaces for signage on its non-tolled Interstates and freeways.

In Canada, the Ministry of Transportation for the Province of British Columbia specifies Clearview for use on its highway guide signs,[36] and its usage has shown up in Ontario on the Don Valley Parkway and Gardiner Expressway in Toronto and on new 400-series highway installations in Hamilton, Halton and Niagara, as well as street signs in various parts of the province. The font is also being used on newer signs in Alberta, Manitoba, and Quebec.

A new Clearview typeface sign beside an old FHWA typeface, Quebec
A new Clearview typeface sign beside an old FHWA typeface, Quebec
Moose crossing warning with kill-counter, Kenai Peninsula of Alaska.
Moose crossing warning with kill-counter, Kenai Peninsula of Alaska.

It is common for local governments, airport authorities, and contractors to fabricate traffic signs using typefaces other than the FHWA series; Helvetica, Futura and Arial are common choices.

Australia

Main article: Road signs in Australia

For road signs in Australia, this is covered by AS 1742 which is unofficially known as Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Australia, and it serves as a similar role to the FHWA MUTCD.[37] As a result, road signs in Australia closely follow those used in America, but some sign designs closely follow the ones used in the United Kingdom.

The typeface used for Australian road signs is the AS 1744 font which is based on Highway Gothic.

Canada

Main article: Road signs in Canada

For road signs in Canada, the Transportation Association of Canada (TAC) publishes its own Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Canada for use by Canadian jurisdictions.[38] Although it serves a similar role to the FHWA MUTCD, it has been independently developed and has a number of key differences with its US counterpart, most notably the inclusion of bilingual (English/French) signage for jurisdictions such as New Brunswick and Ontario with significant anglophone and francophone population, a heavier reliance on symbols rather than text legends and metric measurements instead of imperial.

The Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) also has historically used its own MUTCD which bore many similarities to the TAC MUTCDC. However, as of approximately 2000, MTO has been developing the Ontario Traffic Manual (OTM), a series of smaller volumes each covering different aspects of traffic control (e.g., regulatory signs, warning signs, sign design principles, traffic signals, etc.).

Mexico

Main article: Road signs in Mexico

Road signs in Mexico are influenced by road signs in America. It serves as a similar role to the FHWA MUTCD, but is independently developed and has a number of key differences with the US counterpart, and the language used is Mexican Spanish. Like Canada but unlike America, Mexico had a heavy reliance on symbols than text legends, and metric measurements instead of imperial.[39]

New Zealand

Main article: Road signs in New Zealand

New Zealand road signs are generally influenced both by American and European practices. Warning signs are diamond-shaped with a yellow background for permanent warnings, and an orange background for temporary warnings. They are somewhat more pictorial than their American counterparts. This is also true for Canadian and Mexican signage.

Regulatory signs also follow European practice, with a white circle with a red border indicating prohibitive actions, and a blue circle indicating mandatory actions. White rectangular signs with a red border indicate lane usage directions. Information and direction signs are rectangular, with a green background indicating a state highway, a blue background for all other roads and all services (except in some, where directional signage is white), and a brown background for tourist attractions.

Before 1987, most road signs had black backgrounds – diamonds indicated warnings, and rectangles indicated regulatory actions (with the exception of the Give Way sign (an inverted trapezium), and Stop sign and speed limit signs (which were the same as today)). Information signs were yellow, and direction signage was green on motorways and black everywhere else.

Papua New Guinea

Road signs in Papua New Guinea are standardised and closely follow those used in Australia with certain distinctions. They are written in English.[40]

United States

Further information: Road signs in the United States

Latin America and the Caribbean

Speed bump sign in Belize.
Speed bump sign in Belize.

Road signs in Caribbean and Latin America vary from country to country. For the most part, conventions in signage tend to resemble United States signage conventions more so than European and Asian conventions. For example, warning signs are typically diamond-shaped and yellow rather than triangular and white. Some variations include the "Parking" and "No Parking" signs, which contain either a letter E or P, depending on which word is used locally for "Parking" (Spanish estacionamiento or parqueo, Portuguese estacionamento), as well as the Stop sign, which usually reads "Pare" or "Alto". Notable exceptions include speed limit signs, which follow the European conventions, and the "No Entry" sign, often replaced with a crossed upwards arrow.

Argentina

Main article: Road signs in Argentina

Brazil

Main article: Road signs in Brazil

Chile

Main article: Road signs in Chile

Colombia

Main article: Road signs in Colombia

Traffic signs in Colombia are classified into three categories:

Warning signs are very similar to warning signs in United States. They are yellow diamond-shaped with a black symbol (the yellow colour is changed to an orange colour in areas under construction). In certain cases, the yellow colour is shifted to fluorescent yellow (in the School area sign and Chevron sign).

Mandatory signs are similar to European signs. They are circular with a red border, a white background and a black symbol. Stop sign and Yield sign are as European, except the word "Stop" is changed for "Pare" and the Yield sign has no letters; it is a red triangle with white centre.

Information signs have many shapes and colours. Principally they are blue with white symbols and in many cases these signs have an information letter below the symbol.

Haiti

Road signs in Haiti are standardized road signs closely following those used in France with certain distinctions.[citation needed] They are written in French and Haitian Creole.

Suriname

Road signs in Suriname are particularly modelled on the Dutch road signs since Suriname is a former Dutch colony, although traffic drives on the left.

Automatic traffic sign recognition

Cars are beginning to feature cameras with automatic traffic sign recognition, beginning with the Opel Insignia. It mainly recognizes speed limits and no-overtaking areas.[42]

Image gallery

See also

References

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  2. ^ Prasad, Prakash Charan (1977). Foreign Trade and Commerce in Ancient India. Abhinav Publications. p. 117. ISBN 978-81-7017-053-2.
  3. ^ "Where Did the First Road Signs Come From?". Your AAA Network. 2019-12-18. Retrieved 2020-02-21.
  4. ^ "Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals" (PDF). UNECE. 31 October 2022.
  5. ^ Vantharith Oum (2011-08-31). "Road Traffic Signs in Cambodia" (in Khmer). ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  6. ^ "旧型道路標識一覧(禁止・指導・規制・警戒標識)". trafficsignal.jp (in Japanese). Retrieved 2022-09-09.
  7. ^ "Road Traffic in N. Korea". world.kbs.co.kr. Retrieved 2022-07-20.
  8. ^ "MMDA defends 'pink' as traffic enforcement standard". GMA News Online.
  9. ^ "Probe looms over MMDA's pink traffic signs". GMA News Online.
  10. ^ Saudi highway signs near Makkah (archived)
  11. ^ "Norma 8.1-I.C." (PDF). Ministerio de Fomento, Gobierno de España. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-03-09.
  12. ^ S.I. No. 55/1926: Road Signs and Traffic Signals Regulations, 1926 Archived 2006-02-26 at the Wayback MachineIrish Statute Book
  13. ^ S.I. No. 284/1956: Traffic Signs Regulations, 1956 Archived 2006-09-05 at the Wayback Machine - Irish Statute Book
  14. ^ "NT Cornelia typeface". MyFonts.com. Retrieved 11 March 2021.
  15. ^ "Rozporządzenie Ministra Infrastruktury z dnia 3 lipca 2003 r. w sprawie szczegółowych warunków technicznych dla znaków i sygnałów drogowych oraz urządzeń bezpieczeństwa ruchu drogowego i warunków ich umieszczania na drogach (Regulations On Traffic Signs And Signals And Traffic Safety Devices And Their Placement On Roads, consolidated as at 12 July 2019)". Dziennik Ustaw (Polish Gazette) (in Polish). Retrieved 25 December 2020.
  16. ^ Ralf Herrmann (8 July 2008). "Traffic Sign Typefaces: Poland". Retrieved 25 December 2020.
  17. ^ "Polskie Fonty Online: Tablica Drogowa". Fonty.PL (in Polish). Retrieved 25 December 2020.
  18. ^ "Drogowskaz Font". FFonts.net. Retrieved 25 December 2020.
  19. ^ Teckensnitt på vägmärken / Vägverket Archived 2006-04-20 at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ rel (20 January 2003). ""Frutiger" für die Strasse". NZZ (in German). Zurich, Switzerland. Retrieved 2017-06-28.
  21. ^ "Know your traffic signs".
  22. ^ "The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002". opsi.gov.uk. Retrieved 30 November 2010.
  23. ^ "The Evolution of MUTCD". dot.gov.
  24. ^ a b Section 1A.12 Color Code, Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices
  25. ^ "Signs, signals and road markings" (PDF). icbc.com. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-10-22.
  26. ^ Section 6F.02 General Characteristics of Signs [Temporary Traffic Control], Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices
  27. ^ Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water & Environment (January 2014). "Tasmanian Road Route Codes: Route descriptions and focal points" (PDF). Version 2.7. Government of Tasmania. pp. 6, 60–64. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 10 April 2014.((cite web)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  28. ^ Main Roads Western Australia (21 September 2011). "Route Numbering". Guidelines for Direction Signs in the Perth Metropolitan Area. Government of Western Australia. Archived from the original on 21 October 2013. Retrieved 17 November 2013. Main Roads has chosen to retain the shield numbering system
  29. ^ "Where are metric units legal on British roads?". UK Metric Association. 8 October 2020. Retrieved 31 October 2022.
  30. ^ "Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices" (PDF). Federal Highway Administration. 2000. Retrieved 31 October 2022.
  31. ^ "Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices" (PDF). Federal Highway Administration. 2003. Retrieved 31 October 2022.
  32. ^ "Image". gribblenation.com. Retrieved 30 November 2010.
  33. ^ "Photo". gribblenation.com. Retrieved 30 November 2010.
  34. ^ Holstege, Sean (11 September 2013). "Seeing double on I-17? It's a sign of safer times". The Arizona Republic. Phoenix, Arizona, USA. Retrieved 3 December 2014.
  35. ^ "Illinois Department of Transportation". Archived from the original on 2011-05-14. Retrieved 2006-10-12.
  36. ^ "2006 Internet Templates". Archived from the original on 2010-09-01. Retrieved 2006-05-05.
  37. ^ "AS 1742.1:2021 | Standards Australia". store.standards.org.au. Retrieved 2022-10-28.
  38. ^ "Transportation Association of Canada". Transportation Association of Canada. Retrieved July 14, 2021.
  39. ^ "Road and Traffic Signs in Mexico - What You Need to Know". www.rhinocarhire.com. Retrieved 2022-10-28.
  40. ^ "Guide to Driving In Papua New Guinea - Drive Safe in Papua New Guinea - Rhinocarhire.com". www.rhinocarhire.com. Retrieved 2022-10-28.
  41. ^ Colombia traffic signs manual Archived 2008-06-10 at the Wayback Machine
  42. ^ "Opel Insignia to feature traffic sign recognition system". Archived from the original on 2010-10-26.

Asia

Europe

North America

Canada

United States

Typefaces

Other