Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals

Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals

The Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals is an international 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.

This convention was agreed upon by the United Nations Economic and Social Council at the UNESC Conference on Road Traffic in Vienna 7 October 1968 to 8 November 1968, was done in Vienna on 8 November 1968 and 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 [] , itself based in turn on the 1931 Geneva Convention concerning the Unification of Road Signals [] .

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


Road signs

In article 2 the convention classes 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

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

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 which do not apply at night, must be reflective enough to been seen in darkness with headlights from a distance.

Road markings

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 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 which are recognisable in most languages, such as "Stop" or "Taxi".

Traffic lights

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

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 Parties

52 States at 30 June 2004: Albania, Austria, Bahrain, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Central African Republic, Chile, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mongolia, Morocco, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, San Marino, Senegal, Serbia and Montenegro, Seychelles, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan.

ee also

*Vienna Convention on Road Traffic
*Comparison of European traffic signs

External links

* [ Full text of convention]
* [ Detailed illustrations of signs and signals based on the convention]
* [ Amendments adopted in 2003]

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