Driving responsibly with the help from road signs

Road signs, they are there to guide us, provide information, and maintain traffic flow in a reasonable manner. They even warn us of upcoming hazards or even notify us that it's illegal to park in a specific area. This is the reason why they are put up around cities and highways.

In general, road signs can be classified into three categories: (1) Regulatory, (2) Warning and (3) Information.

Regulatory road signs

These signs indicate traffic laws that have to be followed. Simply put, these signs are made to inform drivers on things that they can, cannot and must do. Some of the signs that fall into this category include: no parking, maximum speed limit, no entry, among others.

Warning road signs

Warning road signs provide drivers a heads-up that danger or hazard is imminent. It gives motorists an early warning whenever there is a roundabout, a winding road ahead and others. Examples of the warning road signs are the following: slippery road, pedestrian crosswalk, falling debris, low height clearance and so on.

Information road signs

Hospitals, lay-bys parking areas and gas stations are some of the places that are indicated in Information Road Signs. These signs also give drivers the distance to the next city or town.

Visibility of road signs
Have you ever wondered how effective Philippine road signs are? Do most Filipino drivers recognize or notice road signs while on the move?

Three years ago, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) recorded an average fatal accident rate of 1.13 per day. In addition, MMDA said that there were a total number of 41 fatal road accidents last May 2013. According to the Philippine National Police (PNP), most traffic accidents are caused by “driver errors” due to the absence of visible road signs.

With that, here are some of the reasons why road signs in our country are not that visible to the naked eye.

Poorly placed. A poorly placed sign will not serve its purpose. Unfortunately, most road signs here are blocked by large advertisements, or placed too high for any motorist to see.

Not reflectorized. Road signs are not normally lit up at night which is a problem. The solution to that is by reflectorizing the sign itself so it can be recognized easily in the dark. In Metro Manila, several cities have already began using such signs. Perhaps more of these can be used throughout the country.

Not maintained. It's not just a matter of placing the signs and hoping for the best. If drivers cannot see the signs or have trouble looking at it, then it needs to be replaced or repainted again for everyone to see.

Vandalized road signs. Even road signs are the subject of vandalism in the country. Some signs are deliberately damaged beyond repair, while others put up graffiti on it which makes it confusing to read. Still, others steal the signs so as to sell them as scrap metal.

Implementation of road signs

Do Filipino drivers follow road signs? Based on the study conducted by the PNP, most Filipino drivers don't follow various road signs because they don't notice it. Some drivers intentionally ignore the signs.

Probably one of the most ignored road signs includes “No Parking”, “No Loading, Unloading” and “No Stopping Anytime”. In addition, the “Stop” and the “Yield” signs are also one of the things ignored by drivers. The “Stop” sign requires each driver to stop before proceeding while the “Yield” indicates that each driver must prepare to stop to let other motorists go first. The “Yield” sign also assigns the right-of-way in certain traffic intersections.

It's not just the drivers who are fond of ignoring road signs. Joining the fiasco are the pedestrians who don’t understand signs that indicate “Cross Only at Ped Xing”, “No Crossing” as well as “Use Overpass to Cross”.

Simply put, motorists as well as pedestrians tend to ignore the road signs while authorities opt not to enforce them. As a result, majority of the Filipino drivers are not disciplined and don’t give importance to traffic signs. Moreover, a good number of Filipino motorists have not done proper training resulting to the lack of knowledge regarding the various road signs. As we all know, getting a driver's license in the Philippines can be done with ease by seeking help from fixers. With this practice, road signs became a mere display rather than an informative tool to control traffic flow as well as warn motorists of the hazards ahead.

What's next?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) there are about 1.24 million people who die each year due to road traffic accidents. WHO claims that road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death among young people (aged 15 to 29 years). Without action, WHO said that the rate of road traffic accidents would rise to around 1.9 million by 2020.

Overall, road signs are designed to guide the safe and orderly movement of traffic by giving directions, instructions and warnings. We should understand and follow these signs in order to have safer roads and to become responsible motorists.

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