Universal traffic signs - The Journey towards Universal Traffic Signs

18th of February 2010 0

The Journey towards Universal Traffic Signs

To begin with, traffic signs or more commonly known as road signs, are those colorful signs usually erected alongside road networks to impart particular information to road users especially motorists. Since the ages of Roman dominance in Europe and beyond, pioneer road signs have been the key means of showing distance and directions to road users.


The middle ages saw an increased usage of these multidirectional signs especially placed at intersectional points as directions towards the major towns and cities. Conventional traffic signs however gained route in road transport soon after the advent of automobiles. Soon enough, at about 1895, an Italian Touring Club had devised the precursor to our modern-day traffic signs code system. Continued addition and regional standardization of the signs have seen a general semblance and acceptance of road signs as a universal system. But we are still far off a universal code.


The increased global immigration and human movement in recent years has seen most countries are now finding it necessary to harmonize their road signs to those that correspond to an unwritten universal code to adequately provide vital information to multinational users. The first move has been an attempt to present messages using predominantly pictorial signs that transverse language barrier. International citizens like frequent travelers are usually called these days will be able to drive in any country even with language barrier in place. Pictorial signs if universally adopted could go a long way in establishing a universal traffic signs. Pictorial traffic signs were first adopted in Europe and most countries around the world have followed suit.


Another key step is to simplify the street sign to a standard format. Basic traffic signs were first patterned in 1908 by the International Road Congress that took place in Rome. In 1909, nine governments in Europe had accepted to use the four pictorial symbols proposed by the Congress namely: bumps, curve, intersection and railroad crossing. By 1949 Europe had adopted a similar road signs system although US government defied to follow suit and designed their own system. An international system has however continued to develop, with North America, Africa, Asia and other key regions adopting international signs and symbols into their domestic systems especially since 1960.

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