I'm now travelling in France and - as any Italian - one of the first thing we learn when running on highways is that the road signs have a different colour.

In particular, in this case it is pretty difficult because higways are green in Italy and blue in France, while state highways are exactly the opposite (blue in Italy and green in France).

I browsed a bit arounf and find a nice page on wikipedia, which lists all (very many) roadsigns (not just highways).

There is also a reference to "European Standard for Traffic Signs - EN 12899-1:2001 Fixed, Vertical Road Traffic Signs – Part 1: Fixed Signs, Requirements" (couldn't find any link on the internet) which is expected to be the 2007 EU standard for roadsigns.

Therefore I'm still amazed by the fact that the European countries still have, in real world, so different signs (colours, dimension etc).

Does anybody knows if there is some work going on on this? Shall we ever have common EU roadsigns?

  • @pnuts: Also not really related to this question. The Vienna convention only define motorway signs to have white letters on green or blue background and not does give any instructions on the colour used for "normal" roads, except the signs to have dark letters on a bright background or vice versa. Both France and Italy have ratified the convention and follow these rules. Commented Jul 31, 2014 at 0:11
  • wow... hot and difficult question...
    – Daniele B
    Commented Jul 31, 2014 at 0:13
  • 3
    One way to look at it is that signs are in fact remarkably similar. Except a few details that are unlikely to change anytime soon, like the typeface, colour background on direction signs, a bit of yellow here and there and of course the use of the local language for textual information, many things are completely harmonized. You can easily recognize a danger sign as a danger sign, a prohibition, a speed limit, etc.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Jul 31, 2014 at 0:37

1 Answer 1


I seriously doubt there will be any work to unify the signs. The benefits are questionable (looking at the Wikipedia article you linked) - it is really easy to understand the signs in different countries - and the cost of changing all the signs in even one country is huge.

  • cost is no problem, just raise some taxes... And of course you can have a lengthy transition period in which all newly placed or replaced signs are to the new design while old signs remain in place. This was in fact the case in the Netherlands, where several different designs were in use side by side for decades.
    – jwenting
    Commented Jul 31, 2014 at 11:34

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