< Back to Tips & Advice

Understanding Road Signs

The earliest road signs gave information on distance and direction and were in place in Roman times and the Middle Ages. The first international agreement on what road signs should look like was set at the International Road Congress in Rome in 1908. Traffic signs became more important with the development of automobiles and the European system we have today was agreed in the Vienna convention of 1968. While Colours, shapes and logos are fairly standardized across Europe the UK does have some unique signs. The UK's current signage system was introduced on 1st January 1965. Britain remains the only part of Europe still using non-metric distance and speed signs.

Most countries place road signs, at the side of roads to pass on information to road users. Because language differences can create barriers to understanding, international signs, using symbols in place of words have been developed in Europe and adopted in most countries of the world.

Road signs

The Vienna convention classed all road signs into a number of categories (A - H)

A. Danger Warning Signs

B. Priority signs

C. Prohibitory or restrictive signs

D. Mandatory signs

F. Information, facilities, or service signs

G. Direction, position, or indication signs

H. Additional panels

There are hundreds and hundreds of UK road signs, familiarising yourself with these signs will help ensure a safe and trouble free journey.

Please Click the PDF file box on the right to view the massive array of Road Signs used on UK roads. 

Understanding Road Signs - Tips and Advice- Article No 52 RoadDriver 2010

For more information and a printable version to pass on to friends and family, click the link below.

Download PDF (479.83 Kb)