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Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals

The Convention on Road Signs and Signals, commonly known as the Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals, is a multilateral treaty designed to increase road safety and aid international road traffic by standardising the signing system for road traffic (road signs, traffic lights and road markings) in use internationally.

Convention on Road Signs and Signals
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Signatories and ratifications as of 2018
  Signed
  Ratified
  Uses the SADC Convention
  Uses the SIECA Convention
Signed8 November 1968
LocationVienna
Effective6 June 1978
ConditionRatification by 15 states
Signatories37
Parties68
DepositaryUN Secretary-General
LanguagesChinese, English, French, Russian, Arabic and Spanish

This convention was agreed upon by the United Nations Economic and Social Council at its Conference on Road Traffic in Vienna 7 October to 8 November 1968, was concluded in Vienna on 8 November 1968, and entered into force on 6 June 1978. This conference also produced the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic, which complements this legislation by standardising international traffic laws.

The convention revised and substantially extended the earlier 1949 Geneva Protocol on Road Signs and Signals,[1] itself based in turn on the 1931 Geneva Convention concerning the Unification of Road Signals.[2]

Amendments, including new provisions regarding the legibility of signs, priority at roundabouts, and new signs to improve safety in tunnels were adopted in 2003.

Both the Vienna Convention and the Geneva Protocol formed according to consensus on road traffic signs that evolved primarily in 20th century Europe. In order to make it as universal as possible, the convention allows some variations, for example danger warning signs can be triangular or square diamond in shape and road markings can be white or yellow.

Though most UN members haven't ratified the full treaty, the signs and legal principals enshrined in it form the basis of traffic law in a majority of places.

An alternative convention called the SADC-RTSM, provided by the Southern African Development Community, is used by 10 countries in southern Africa. Many of the rules and principles of the SADC-RTSM are similar to those of the Vienna Convention.

In the United States, signs are based on the US Federal Highway Administration's Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. This is the main competing standard to the UN convention. Signs in the MUTCD are more text oriented, though a few pictograms in the MUTCD are from the Vienna protocol. Canada and Australia have road signs based substantially on the MUTCD. In South America, road signage is influenced by both systems.

Contents

RulesEdit

Road signsEdit

In article 2 the convention classes all road signs into a number of categories (A – H):

The convention then lays out precise colours, sizes, and shapes for each of these classes of sign:

Class of sign Shape Ground Border Size Symbol Examples
Danger warning sign Equilateral triangle White or yellow Red 0.9 m (large), 0.6 m (small) Varies; Black or dark blue   
Diamond Yellow Black 0.6 m (large), 0.4 m (small) Varies; Black or dark blue  
Priority signs
Give Way sign Inverted equilateral triangle White or yellow Red 0.9 m (large), 0.6 m (small) None   
Stop sign Octagon Red White 0.9 m (large), 0.6 m (small) Stop written in white  
Circular White or yellow Red 0.9 m (large), 0.6 m (small) Stop written in black or dark blue inside red inverted triangle   
Priority road Diamond White Black 0.5 m (large), 0.35 m (small) Yellow or orange square   
End of priority road Diamond White Black 0.5 m (large), 0.35 m (small) Yellow or orange square with black or grey diagonal lines crossing the sign    
Priority for oncoming traffic Circular White or yellow Red Unspecified Black arrow indicating direction with priority, red arrow indicating direction without   
Priority over oncoming traffic Rectangle Blue None Unspecified White arrow indicating direction with priority, red arrow indicating direction without  
Prohibitory signs
Standard prohibitory Circular White or yellow Red 0.6 m (large), 0.4 m (small) Varies; black or dark blue   
Parking prohibited Circular Blue Red 0.6 m (large), 0.2 m (small) None  
Circular White or yellow Red 0.6 m (large), 0.2 m (small) Initial letter or ideogram to denote parking; black or dark blue   
Stopping prohibited Circular Blue Red 0.6 m (large), 0.4 m (small) None  
End of prohibition Circular White or yellow None 0.6 m (large), 0.4 m (small) Black or grey diagonal line  
Mandatory signs
Standard mandatory Circular Blue None, white 0.6 m (large), 0.4 m (small), 0.3 m (very small) Varies, white  
Circular White or yellow Red 0.6 m (large), 0.4 m (small), 0.3 m (very small) Varies, black or dark blue    
Special regulation signs
All signs Rectangular Blue Unspecified Unspecified Varies, white  
Light Unspecified Unspecified Varies, Black  
Information, facilities or service signs
All signs Unspecified Blue or green Unspecified Unspecified Varies, on white or yellow rectangle  
Direction, position or indication signs
Informative signs Rectangular, sometimes with arrowhead Light Unspecified Unspecified Varies, dark  
Dark Unspecified Unspecified Varies, light  
Motorways Rectangular Blue or green Unspecified Unspecified Varies, white   
Temporary Rectangular Yellow or orange Unspecified Unspecified Varies, black  
Additional panels
All panels Unspecified White, blue or yellow Black, blue or red Unspecified Varies, black or dark blue  
Black, red or dark blue White, blue or yellow Unspecified Varies, white, blue or yellow  
Class of sign Shape Ground Border Size Symbol Examples

May be written in English or the national language

It also specifies the symbols and pictograms which may be used, and the orientations in which they may be used. When more than one is available, the same one must be used nationally. All signs, except for those that do not apply at night, must be reflective enough to be seen in darkness with headlights from a distance.

Road markingsEdit

The convention also specifies road markings. All such markings must be less than 6 mm high, with cat's eye reflectors no more than 15 mm above the road surface. The road markings shall be white or yellow.[3]

The length and width of markings varies according to purpose, although no exact figures for size are stated; roads in built up areas should use a broken line for lane division, while continuous lines must only be used in special cases, such as reduced visibility or narrowed carriage ways.

All words painted on the road surface should be either of place names, or of words recognisable in most languages, such as "Stop" or "Taxi".

Traffic lightsEdit

The Convention specifies the colours for traffic lights and their meanings, and places and purposes lights may be used for, like so:

Type Shape Colour Position Meaning
Non-flashing Plain   Green At intersection Proceed
  Amber At intersection, level crossing, swing bridge, airport, fire station or ferry terminal Stop if possible
  Red At intersection Stop
  Red and amber At intersection Signal is about to change (usually to green)
Arrow pointing left Green At intersection Only traffic turning left may proceed
Arrow pointing right Green At intersection Only traffic turning right may proceed
Arrow pointing upwards Green At intersection Only traffic travelling straight ahead may proceed
Arrow pointing downwards   Green Above lane Traffic may continue in lane
Cross (×)   Red Above lane Traffic may not enter lane (lane closed)
Arrow pointing diagonally downwards   Amber or white Above lane Lane closes shortly ahead, change lane in the direction of the arrow
Flashing Plain   Double Red (alternating) At level crossing, swing bridge, airport, fire station or ferry terminal Stop
  Lunar white At crossing Proceed
  Amber (flashing) Anywhere except intersection Proceed with caution
  Amber (flashing) At intersection The priority is determined by   Priority Route or   Yield signs or if none of the above regular right of way rule.

Red flashing lights may only be used at the locations specified above; any other use of the lights is in breach of the convention. Red lights must be placed on top when lights are stacked vertically, or on the side closest to oncoming traffic if stacked horizontally.

Contracting partiesEdit

The convention has 68 state parties as of August 2016: Albania, Austria, Bahrain, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Central African Republic, Chile, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Paraguay, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.

The only countries in Europe that are not signatories to the Convention are Ireland, Andorra, Malta, the United Kingdom, and Liechtenstein. Iceland, Spain, and the Holy See are all signatories but have yet to ratify the Convention.

The only countries in Asia that are not signatories to the Convention are Bangladesh, Malaysia, Republic of China (Taiwan), People's Republic of China (including Hong Kong and Macau), Japan, Israel, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Armenia, Yemen, Oman, North Korea, and Afghanistan.

Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, South Korea, and Thailand are all signatories, but have yet to ratify the Convention.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Internet Archive Wayback Machine". Web.archive.org. 26 October 2009. Archived from the original on 26 October 2009. Retrieved 28 January 2012.
  2. ^ "1931 年道路信号統一条約" (in Japanese). Members.jcom.home.ne.jp. Archived from the original on 19 December 2012. Retrieved 28 January 2012.
  3. ^ Chapter 29 in the convention.

External linksEdit