What’s in a Sign? December 15th, 2011

What do road signs and Kia fans have in common? They’re unique, diverse and come in all different shapes, sizes and colors across the globe. Today we’ll be introducing what some of these road signs have in common and what sets some of them apart. Remember road regulations may differ by country, so make sure you drive safely and follow the local regulations.
The stop sign is used by most countries. As you probably know, this sign commands a momentary stop to observe the surroundings before setting off again.

The stop sign was first seen in 1915 in the U.S. state of Michigan. It was a little different from the stop sign we’re familiar with today. Early stop signs were white with black letters. They became widely used when the American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO) made it the standard stop sign in 1922.

Now let’s take a look at how the stop sign differs across the globe. Most countries have the word “STOP” in English, but others have the word in their local languages for quicker recognition (from the left: United States, China, Japan and Brazil). Usually stop signs are in the shape of an octagon, but in Japan there are triangular stop signs and in other countries, there are circular stop signs. In Israel, stops signs use symbols instead of a word.
The yield sign is written as “YIELD” in countries like the U.S., Canada and Ireland while Hong Kong, the UK and other commonwealth nations use the expression “GIVE WAY”. The yield sign is different from a stop sign in that a driver must stop at a stop sign even if there is no traffic, while with the yield sign, the driver should remember to yield to other drivers at intersection.
The yield sign usually takes the form of an inverted triangle with red outlines. (From the left: U.S.; Europe/Israel/Chile/Brazil/Iran/Canada; Greece/Sweden/ Serbia/Croatia/Finland/Iceland/Poland; UK/Australia/New Zealand/Singapore, etc.)


Speed limit signs exist so that drivers travel at reasonable and safe speeds. In terms of the speed limit, there are road signs that indicate the fastest speed limit, the lowest speed limit or no speed limit at all. There are also speed limit signs that restrict speed depending on factors like weather and road conditions. The first speed limit was set in 1861 in the U.K. at 10 mph (16 km/h) and the highest speed limit was set during 2005 and 2010 in Abu Dhabi at 99 mph (160 km/h).
The world’s first speed violation was in East Peckham, when a man named Walter Arnold had to pay a shilling for driving too slowly. Nowadays it’s hard to imagine someone being fined for driving too slowly!
For most countries, speed limit signs consist of a number figure in the middle of a red circle. However, the font of the sign varies by country. It’s good to be well-informed of the minimum and maximum speed regulations as they differ by country.


There are also a wide variety of warning signs. Regular road signs don’t account for the warnings that these signs cover. These signs give warnings for possible dangers ahead, including crossing animals,

There is a sign that warns of slippery pavement or an area that is prone to freezing. These types of signs vary slightly by country.
(From left: Australia, Germany, Poland, Sweden, U.K. U.S.)

2) Construction Site (Europe)
Construction signs slightly vary among European nations. Some of the figures look like they’re digging faster with good technique, and some of the construction workers look pretty tough, so drive carefully around these areas ;) Are they digging or filling a hole? What do you guys think?
(From left: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherland, Spain, U.K.)

3) Animals
In a country like Sweden, there are many signs related to animals.
(From left: cow, deer, reindeer, moose, sheep, horse, wild boar)

The next road sign is only seen in Australia – it’s a warning sign for passing kangaroos! It’s not likely you’ll ever see this sign anywhere else! Well, maybe you’ll see one at a trendy Australian restaurant.

In Norway, there’s a sign to warn against polar bears.

In addition to these, Australia’s got one for frilled lizards and Thailand has one for elephants.

Famous for its cleanliness and great upkeep, Singapore has a road sign for the visually impaired and the elderly. As you can see, many countries have similar yet different road signs. When you have the opportunity to drive in other countries, drive safe and have fun spotting these differences.

As you can see, many countries have similar yet different road signs. When you have the opportunity to drive in other countries, drive safe and have fun spotting these differences.

  • Driving is certainly a different experience depending on where you are.  The differences in these signs clearly highlight that.  No matter where you are, safety first!