Differences in Road Signs and Driving Etiquette Around the World

Differences in Road Signs and Driving Etiquette Around the World

If you’ve ever traveled, you likely noticed that every country and culture has its ideas when it comes to driving, road etiquette, and signage. This diversity is just one of the things that make our world interesting and richly vibrant. Here are some of the differences in driving around the world.


Driving in the United States is focused on rules. Those driving a Ferrari, that new Ford for sale, or an old junker, all must follow the same rules. While each region of the US has notably different types of drivers, generally Americans adhere to road rules, speed limits, right-of-way, and yielding to pedestrians. 

Road signs in the USA are simple and standardized across the country. Stop signs and speed limit signs are some of the most well-known around the world. Americans also use standardized colors, such as red, yellow, and green. 


The United Kingdom uses many roundabouts, which flow counterclockwise. Drivers tend to be polite and considerate, and drivers normally wave to show thanks for other courteous drivers. Slower drivers must stay in the right lanes.

Road signs that are usually a bright blue color, and “zebra crossings” give pedestrians the right-of-way. In the UK they also use “give way” signs, which signify yielding to oncoming traffic instead of fully stopping. They also have “clearway” signs, which means that during certain times of day, it is illegal to stop on any part of that roadway.


The Japanese are precise and punctual, and so are their road signage and driving. They use minimal text, and their signs are very clear. They also use pictograms so foreigners can navigate more easily. They use blue signs for guidance, red signs for prohibited maneuvers, and green signs to show directions. 

Japanese drivers emphasize discipline and are respectful of other drivers. They very rarely honk.


Germany is famous for its autobahn, stretches of high-speed roadways. Germans like to be efficient and expect faster vehicles to use the left lanes and slower cars to stay to the right. 

Their speed limit sign with a diagonal line means unrestricted speed. Germany also tends to use electronic displays to show speed limits that adapt according to the weather or road conditions.


Indian roads are much different than most people in the United States are accustomed to. Indian signs include several languages, colors, and shapes, and though there are standardized versions, they also use variations in different regions. This can be confusing for foreigners but shows the rich cultural diversity of India.

Some may describe driving in India as chaotic, so drivers must be adaptable and skillful to make it through congested roads and between cattle and people. Honking is common and drivers are often very creative.

Practice Safe Driving Wherever You Travel

Driving and signage vary throughout the world. The important thing is to drive defensively and stay alert to avoid any accidents. Always do your best to adhere to local rules and follow signage. If you are going to be traveling abroad, research before you go, or travel by taxi or with a personal driver to avoid any problems on the road.