The Philippine standards for road warnings and street signs are based on international conventions entered into among countries. International conventions regulate road traffic between nations by adopting uniform road-traffic rules, road signs and signals, driver licenses, and vehicle registration documentation, and by setting safety standards for vehicle design and their equipment.
The Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals of 1968 contains rules for international uniformity of road signs, signals, symbols, and markings. As road traffic and speed increases in the country, there is no room for a ‘local’ practice or interpretation for the national road system. Local variations must not contradict the administrative regulations, transportation and traffic laws, and international conventions.
The convention on road rules became important to countries with motorists entering from other countries. The need arose to regulate cross-border vehicles and drivers in terms of their vehicle registration and driver license. The Convention forms a coherent system for road signs, traffic lights, and road markings to be designed and placed along the roadway.
The Philippines is a contracting party to both the Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals and the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic. These were ratified by Presidential Decree No. 207 (1973), thus adopting and making these two conventions as “part of the law of the land.” Our road rules are contained in the Land Transportation and Traffic Code, Republic Act No. 4136 (1964). Ideally, all subsequent administrative issuances must be consistent and reflect the later regulations found in the international conventions adopted.
Under the Code, an applicant for a driver license must pass an examination to demonstrate proficiency in reading and interpreting various traffic signs, signals, and road markings, and in operating a motor vehicle. The LTO can issue a license only if the applicant passes the exam. The Code assumes that the licensed driver is proficient in reading and interpreting traffic signs, signals, and road markings. And, by reciprocity among nations, that presumption applies to all driver licenses issued by other authorities from around the globe.
The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has issued the Road Signs and Pavement Markings Manual to establish and maintain a standardized system on all roads in the Philippines by incorporating internationally accepted standards and practices. As a variation from the convention, it provides bilingual signs in English and Filipino. In the interest of uniformity, local government units, traffic management and enforcing authorities, and project managers and consultants must apply the requirements of the Manual on all road projects or maintenance activities.
Road signs are classified according to their use: regulatory signs, warning signs, guide or informative signs, signs for expressways, signs for special purposes, and hazard markers.
Because road signs are an essential part of the road traffic system, their message should be concise, meaningful, and consistent, and their design and placement must be coordinated with the road geometric design. We need to stop the verbose fine print on tarpaulin materials hoisted up to serve as regulatory signs, warning signs, and informative signs. Traffic signs shall not bear advertising or commercial message, or any other message that is not essential to traffic control.
According to the Manual, the use of symbols on signs to convey all or part of a message may reduce reading time and extend legibility distance. The Manual contains common standard symbols, arrows, symbolic representation of legends, and location destinations.
Signs are normally located on the right side of the road. In special circumstances specified in the Manual, signs may be duplicated on the left side or mounted over the road. No specific rules can be applied to the exact location of regulatory signs because their position varies with their purpose. Most are usually located on the right side of the carriageway to face the approaching traffic as close as possible to the position where regulatory action is required.
The No Entry sign shall be used at the termination of a one-way carriageway to prohibit access to all vehicles from the wrong direction. At one-way street exits, No Entry signs shall be erected on both sides of the street at the intersection facing in the opposite direction to the one-way flow. The signs may need to be located a short distance into the one-way street if there is a possibility of drivers becoming confused as to which street is closed for entry. Sufficient signs shall be erected to ensure that at least one is clearly visible to drivers approaching from any direction, and some signs may have to be set at an angle to achieve this purpose.
In case you missed the No Entry sign because the sign was not visible, you may contest or protest the issuance of the traffic ticket. In your protest, you may argue that the placement of the No Entry sign was not as mandated by the DPWH Road Signs and Pavement Markings Manual; as a result, you were not aware of the restriction on that road.
Note: This article first appeared in Top Gear Philippines' September 2017 issue.