Road Signs in Europe
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Road Signs in Europe

Driving rules in Europe are very complex. Indeed, all of the various indications are essential to safe and efficient driving. Foreign travellers are often unaware of some of the driving rules existing in this part of the world, and as such can potentially be at risk. Fortunately, there has been a sustained effort to harmonize the road panels throughout all European countries in the past years. Some of the indications still differ from one country to the next, but the panels are conceived intuitively enough so that the driver may understand a panel when seeing it for the very first time.

Driving rules in Europe are very complex. Indeed, all of the various indications are essential to safe and efficient driving. Foreign travellers are often unaware of some of the driving rules existing in this part of the world, and as such can potentially be at risk. Fortunately, there has been a sustained effort to harmonize the road panels throughout all European countries in the past years. Some of the indications still differ from one country to the next, but the panels are conceived intuitively enough so that the driver may understand a panel when seeing it for the very first time.

Road panels are to be understood as a form of communication between drivers. They obey a code which allows the drivers to understand what they must do to safely go to their destinations.

A road panel has one of three functions:

  1. To warn the driver;
  2. To give an order to the driver (either something he cannot do or something he must do);
  3. Inform the driver by giving him informations;

Here is a list of all types of road panels in Europe:

Shape Colours 1 Colours 2

Warning

 

Permanent

Temporary

Mandatory

Interdiction

End of interdiction

Obligation

End of obligation

Informatory

Driving information

Indication of installation

In this way, each shape, each colour, and each symbol constitute a unique message when they are associated to one-another. Hence:

Order

+

Interdiction

+

Bycicle

=

Road closed to bycicles

Here are some examples:

Sharp turn

Road ends at dock

Bicycle crossing

Railroad crossing with fence

Railroad crossing without fence

 Yield to all vehicles coming

from the right

Roundabout

Misc. Warning

(often accompanied by

other indications)

No entry

Wrong way

Road closed to cars

No right turn

No passing

 No closer than 70m

to leading cars

Yield to oncoming traffic

(interdiction of priority)

Speed limit

Obligation to go straight

Obligation to turn right

before this pannel

Obligation to turn left or right

Obligation to pass obstacle

by the right

Obligation for bicycles to use this road

Minimum speed obligation

End of minimum speed obligation

Obligation to turn left

at the next intersection

One-way circulation

End of one-way circulation

Dead end

Parking area

Recommended driving speed

Pedestrian crossing area

First-aid area

Emergency telephone

Furthermore, road panels in Europe can be combined to create more elaborate indications. Here are some examples.

Yeld to traffic comming from the left

(the main road is indicated in bold)

The turn will occur in 300m

There will be dangerous curves

during 100m

No entry for buses

Road closed to trucks weighing

more than 15 tonnes

Parking area for buses

Speed limit for turn

All vehicles must go straight,

but trucks must take another road

Panels do change slightly from one European country to the next, but they generally respect the same language codes. Hence, some symbols are more intuitive than others for the foreign driver. But knowing the basic codes of road communication is a first step in adapting to the driving climate and enjoying it.

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