Text: Martin Aguilar / Photos: Brent Co | posted May 25, 2015 17:57
Road Signs in the Philippines
Road signs are meant to maintain order and provide information to motorists driving through major thoroughfares. Ideally, road signs are intended to control the traffic flow and to warn you of an upcoming hazard. This is the reason why they should suppose to be a common sight as you drive around the busy metropolis and the open highway.
In general, road signs can be classified into three categories: (1) Regulatory, (2) Warning and (3) Information.
Regulatory road signs
Regulatory road signs indicate traffic laws. Simply put, these signs are made to inform drivers on things that they can, cannot and must do. Road signs that fall into this category are no parking, maximum speed limit, no entry, among others.
Warning road signs
Warning road signs indicate dangerous or hazardous traffic conditions. It gives the driver a heads up whenever there is a roundabout, a sharp curve, a winding road ahead and others. Some examples of the warning road signs are the following: slippery when wet, pedestrian crossing, falling rocks, men at work and so on.
Information road signs
Information road signs indicate service areas, hospitals, lay-bys and parking areas. These signs also give you the distance to the next city or town.
With these in mind, have you ever wonder how effective Philippine road signs are? Do Filipino drivers recognize or notice road signs while driving?
Visibility of road signs
Last 2013, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) recorded an average fatal accident rate of 1.13 per day. In detail, MMDA said that there were a total number of 41 fatal road accidents last May 2013. Subsequently, the Philippine National Police (PNP) reported that 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. Poorly placed road signs defeat the purpose of informing motorists who travel every single day. In Metro Manila alone, some road signs are placed too high while others are covered by an advertisment poster or a tree.
Not reflectorized. Visibility could be a problem when an individual is driving after the sun has set. With this, reflectorized road signs would be very useful to inform motorists specially during nighttime. While reflectorized road signs are already placed in some places in the metro, it would be better if the government would have more of these in the streets.
Not maintained. Some of the Philippine road signs are either fading or damaged due to old age. Well maintained road signs would provide better visibility as well as efficiently inform motorists of the necessary traffic rules and hazards.
Vandalized road signs. Vandalized road signs endangers the motorists plying the thoroughfares. Last 2012, a local news network did a report regarding the condition of road signs in Metro Manila. Based on their report, vandalism has left many street and road signs almost useless.
In a separate study, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) said that a total of 42,558 road signs have been stolen and vandalized last January 2013. To date, vandalized road signs can still be seen in various areas in the metro.
Implementation of road signs
Do Filipino drivers follow road signs? Well, no matter how idealistic we want to be, the answer to that question is obvious. Based on the study conducted by the PNP, most Filipino drivers don't follow various road signs because they don't notice it. On the other hand, some drivers intentionally ignore the signs.
Most Filipinos have a hard time following various road signs placed on the street. The most ignored road signs includes the “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 doesn'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 doesn't give importance to traffic signs. Moreover, a good number of Filipino motorists have not gone 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.
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.