The Difference Between Road Signs Around The World 

Lily Travis
Lily Travis
- 6 min read

Have you ever noticed a strange road sign abroad and couldn’t understand its meaning? Well, that’s completely fine. Around the world, there are many signs that have the same meaning but look different.

There are also some countries that have road signs which are totally unique from the rest.

Stop Signs

When thinking about stop signs, the first thing that comes to mind is a red octagon sign with white letters saying “STOP.” But it appears that this is not the case in all parts of the world.

Nowadays, the color of stop signs are all red around the world. But in the past, some used to be yellow and blue, too.

In some countries like Ethiopia, Israel and Pakistan, the stop sign is signaled by a hand indicating to stop without any text.

Stop hand reflective signs

Usually, stop signs have an octagonal shape but there are some countries where the sign is a circle with an upside down triangle inside of it.

Stopping traffic sign

Here are the most unusual types of “STOP” signs in the world.

The first one is in Japan, which is in the shape of an upside down triangle. It’s probably the only sign in the world that has this shape.

The second one is in Papua New Guinea, which has a completely unique shape compared with other stop signs around the world.

And the last one is in Nepal, which does not have any text or symbol on it - it’s just a red octagon.

Stop traffic signs

Even though most countries use English for their safety signs, there are countries that use only their native language for sign making.

Below, see some of those signs. To help you identify where they’re used, we’ve added the name of the respective country on each sign.

Stop warning traffic sign

Animal Alert Signs

Other common types of road signs are animal alert signs, which can be most frequently seen on countryside roads. But because there are animals that can be found only in a certain country, some signs might seem weird for people living in other places.

For example in Australia, it’s common to see kangaroos on the street though that may be very unusual for others.

Animal alert signs

Bear crossing can be common for the USA and Russia. However, for many people living in other parts of the world, it would be bizarre to see a bear alert sign or stranger still, the bear on a road...

Animal alert signs

In Northern Africa, you can see camels crossing the road on warning signs whereas in South African it can be a plethora of animals from elephants and giraffes to rhinos and lions. 

Animal road signs

Pedestrian Crossing Signs

Normally when thinking of pedestrian crossing signs, we imagine an illustration of a male figure walking across an intersection. But apparently, pedestrian crossing signs can vary depending on the country. Mostly, the difference is seen in the appearance of the person crossing the road. Let’s see what we mean by that.

Pedestrian crossing traffic signs

As you can see, Australia is probably one of the only countries where the pedestrian crossing sign does not have a person on it but instead an illustration of walking legs. Laos is again unique, as it’s one of the only places where the person crossing is a female. And the uniqueness in the sign for Qatar is in the clothing of the person crossing the street.

Pedestrian road safety signs

These three signs are relatively normal. The slight distinction is in Israel and Japan, where the pedestrians are wearing hats. Overall, we can see that the shapes and colors of these signs also differ by region.

Road Sign Colors and Shapes

Although similar signs can have different designs around the world, certain colors and shapes of signs typically have the same meaning. So let’s find out what each color and shape means when used for traffic signs.

  • Green– directional, informational and safety signs
  • Red– warning, danger, stop, wrong way, do not enter
  • Blue– motorist service guide, parking spaces for handicapped drivers
  • White and black – regulatory signs, usually with a white background
  • Yellow – general warning signs
  • Orange – construction warning signs

Same is with the shapes of road signs. A certain shape refers to a certain type of road sign.

Road signs traffic regulatories of different shapes
  • Rectangles (vertical) – regulatory signs
  • Rectangle (horizontal) – guide signs
  • Diamond – warning signs
  • Octagon – stop signs
  • Triangle – yield signs
  • Circle – railroad crossing, emergency evacuation

Funny Road Signs

The world is full of funny traffic signs which are sometimes impossible to explain. The aim of these signs is probably to attract attention and even make the driver’s journey a bit more fun.

Let’s see some of them and try to understand what they mean.

Beware funny road sign

Is this sign warning drivers to beware of wild children? Parents about wild animals near children? Or is it made to inform wild animals about children? In any case, we wish to know where this sign is located and what is wrong with the children there.

Trip Hazard warning traffic sign

A useful one, especially for those who rarely check their feet while walking. No one will laugh at people tripping if they don’t trip. At least we have the image on the sign to make us giggle a little. 

Funny road signs

We can guess that the shoe sign is an alert for women wearing high heels, warning them that the shoe’s heel might break if they walk there. This is funny but useful at the same time.

What kind of pigeons are these? No one would want to feed them after reading this sign.

Who is Bob? And why should we be wary of him? We don’t know where on Earth this sign is but now we’re suspicious of all Bobs.

It appears that there is a place in the world where alongside rocks, cows can also fall on you from a cliffside. This is a legitimate road sign and hasn’t been altered.

Unique Road Signs

Each country has its uniqueness, which can be applied to road signs as well. There are traffic signs that can be seen only in a certain country and nowhere else.

You can see some of these signs below.

Caution alert sign

This immigrant crossing sign is located in the US. It’s used to warn drivers to be more careful as there could be immigrants with children crossing the street.

Traffic board signs

This pegasus crossing sign is used in the United Kingdom and Peru, which is apparently for giving consideration to horse riders crossing the road.

The second sign is in Finland and it says, “beware of Finnish zombies.” So when in Finland, make sure you look after your brains. All jokes aside, this one is a very helpful sign in Finland which actually means, "beware of fragile ice.”

So now you’re more aware of all types of road signs from various corners of our world.

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