A warning sign is a type of sign which indicates a potential hazard, obstacle or condition requiring special attention. Some are traffic signs that indicate hazards on roads that may not be readily apparent to a driver.
While warning traffic sign designs vary, they usually take the shape of an equilateral triangle with a white background and thick red border. In the People's Republic of China (except for Macau and Hong Kong), they appear with a black border and a yellow background. In Sweden, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece, Finland, Iceland, North Macedonia and Poland, they have a red border with an amber background. The polar bear warning sign in Svalbard recently changed from displaying a black bear on white background to a white bear on black background (both signs are triangular with a red border). Some countries like France, Norway and Spain that normally use a white background have adopted an orange or amber background for road work or construction signs.
Warning signs in some countries have a diamond shape in place of the standard triangular shape. In the United States, Canada, Mexico, Thailand, Australia, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, most of South America, and also Ireland use warning signs are black on a yellow background and usually diamond-shaped, while temporary signs (which are typically construction signs) are black on an orange background. Some other countries also use these standards for some signage.
Some of the first roadside signs—ancient milestones—merely gave distance measures. Hazard warnings were rare though occasional specimens appeared, such as the specific warning about horse-drawn vehicles backing up which was carved in stone in Lisbon's Alfama neighborhood in 1686. The early signs did not have high-contrast lettering and their messages might have been easily overlooked. Signs were written in the local language like symbolic signs, though long used on certain tradesmen's signs (like the pawnbrokers' tri-ball symbol) were to be used for traffic only much later in history.
Complex signage systems emerged with the appearance of motorcars. In 1908 the automobile association in West London erected some warning signs. In 1909, nine European governments agreed on the use of four pictorial symbols, indicating bump, curve, intersection, and railroad crossing. The intensive work on international road signs that took place between 1926 and 1949 eventually led to the development of the European road sign system.
- Which word resembles the meaning of hazard?
- How are road signs normally designed?
- When were the universal road signs taken seriouslly?
- Why are warning signs significant?
- Which could likely happen if warning signs were not properly indicated?