Information Disclaimer: This is an unofficial collection
of European road sign conventions and rules. Whereas every effort has been
taken to ensure the accuracy of the information presented, there may be
errors and omissions.The entire risk as to results and performance of the
information rests with its user.
The international traffic signs were adopted by most
continental nations in 1934/35 to replace the individual countries' obsolescent
and widely varying systems. Since then, the international signs remained
essentially unchanged, though many signs were added.
One remaining major difference among countries is the
compulsory roundabout, legal only in some countries, like I
and GB , and
not in others. The traffic circulateing in the compulsory roundabout has the right of
way over that entering from a radial direction.
Discussion of the Signs
One of the important international traffic engineering
concepts is the priority road or street (Vorfahrtstrasse), on which one
enjoys right of way, valid to a sign where it gets cancelled again.
signals it, to remain in force until cancelled by
Following the latter sign, one must be prepared to encounter "yield
the right of way", which is either one of the familiar signs,
As in the US, the effect of the latter two signs is the same, except one
also must stop at the STOP or the white line by the sign. Note that in most
countries the stop sign is of a different design. See our last page,
Signs of other European countries
Though the law does not explicitely require the posting of
a yield sign or before a stop sign, the cancellation sign is usually posted
At the intersection with a Vorfahrtstraße, either
the sign "yield the right of way to traffic in der priority street",
or STOP, is posted.
At the intersection of two roads or streets that are
not Vorfahrtstraßen, there is
either no sign and the traffic from the right has thus
the right of way,
or the intersection is controlled by the self complementing pair
"my right of way,"
and "yield to the cross street's right of way, .
The "my right of way" sign has validity only where posted, whereas
the sign "Vorfahrtstraße,"
would have significance beyond this one intersection, in that it would
turn the cross street into "Vorfahrtstraße" from there
to the cancellation point. There may be a STOP instead of the YIELD the
right of way.
Safety for the travelers towards the intersection
with a curved street calls for additional clarification. It is provided
by a Zusatzschild depicting the situation schematically. Without
further ado, we show three examples of the combination of a sign and and its Zusatzschild
Traffic straight ahead
Traffic straight ahead
(up on picture)has also right of way
to yield to traffic from right (Vorfahrtstraße!)
Turn signals required on the priority street (Vorfahrtstraße), but their use by others
must not be relied upon!
The law specifically states where regulatory signs
shall be placed with respect to a junction or intersection. Within
town limits, this is along the right side, somewhere at the intersection.
Outside town limits, signs are approximately 100 .... 250 m ahead of the
intersection. Where less than 100 m, a Zusatzzeichen is to state
the distance to the intersection.
A stop sign outside town limits must be
announced by the combination:
Where 2-way traffic on 2-way roads is tight, e.g.
on steep or narrow roads, or in narrow places, one direction must
be ordered to yield to the other. That is regardless of the possible presence
of a traffic light. (Following a fundamental concept , traffic signs shall
always be present at places sufficiently important to be normally regulated
by light signals.) The signs prevail when the light is not in operation.
There is a self complementary set of traffic signs, designed for the
tight two-way situation. These are
"it is my right of way,"
and...."I shall yield to his right of way",
The two arrows in both signs are of course interchanged as necessary
in the case of left-hand traffic, as in the UK.
Town limits are marked by the self complementary
set of traffic signs
"beginning of town rules,"
and....."end of town rules ,"
where the distance to the next town is shown on the cancellation sign. Note:
These two signs define new default speed limits, and
The color of the signs differs from country to
country. For example, Germany (D), they are black on yellow, in Switzerland (CH)
white on blue, and in Austria (A) and Sweden (S) black on white.
Refer to several statements on rules within and without town limits, made elsewhere
in these pages.
Any compulsory roundabout is in force when posted
which is a sign legal in some countries and illegal in others. Where legally
posted, any traffic in the roundabout enjoys the right of way over traffic
coming from the junctions.Watch traffic ahead. Watch traffic as
it may enter from the side.
The special rules for Autobahnare
invoked and cancelled by the self complementary pair of signs
The country's Freeway default-speed limit, if any, applies. So do other
rules, which are essentially as follows.
There is only controlled access, with accelerating lane and decelerating lane.
To leave sufficient space for emergency vehicles in the left lane when traffic is stopped.
No stopping is permitted, except when forced by emergency or congestion.
Permitted are no pedestrians, bicycles, motorcycles with less than
minimum rating, or vehicles capable of less than a minimum speed.
No lights are permitted at high beam.
The special rules for Kraftfahrstraße are invoked and cancelled
by the self complementary pair of signs
The same rules apply as for Autobahn, with the following exceptions.
There is no controlled access. Yet, access is allowed only via feeder road.
Pedestrians are permitted only to cross and to do so only on designated
crossings controlled by light signal.
High beam light is allowed under the same rules that apply on roads outside town limits.