road signs in the Philippines l Moneymax

In 2019, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) reported an all-time high of 121,771 road accidents. This represented a year-on-year spike of 4.16%. The figures also meant that there were 334 reported accidents per day on average, with one resulting in fatality. Overall, the MMDA tallied 372 incidents with fatalities that year.[1]

The year 2020, on the other hand, has seen significantly lower statistics. There’s been a 46.6% drop in recorded incidents, which can be attributed to lockdowns. Nevertheless, the fact that there are still accidents shows that there are irresponsible drivers (and even pedestrians) on the road.

While we can’t determine the exact number of people who didn’t follow the road signs and traffic rules, we know that there are still a lot. As a motorist, you know too well that the lives of the people on the road and the sidewalks all depend on you. As such, you need to religiously follow all the traffic signs that you see while you drive.

If you need a refresher, we’ve come up with a handy guide to the road signs in the Philippines.

What are Road Signs?

Also known as traffic signs, road signs are essentially signs that guide drivers and pedestrians towards their destination and keep them safe while they’re on the move. Some signs are usually placed at the side of the street, but they can also be found above the roads.

Road signs are designed in a way that allows road users to digest information quickly. They’re simple and striking so that there will be no room for misinterpretations. This is why traffic signs are usually written in large letters or expressed in pictures or symbols. In some cases, they’re translated into the vernacular language, so locals will understand them easily.

What’s the Importance of Learning the Road Signs?

Safety―this is the number one reason why one has to learn road signs. Traffic signs are placed in congested and accident-prone areas to warn people of potential dangers. Some road signs are designed to explain the rules of road usage to facilitate more efficient traffic flows.

For motorists, road signs can also be cues for more mindful driving. As for pedestrians, these signs point them to areas that are safe for walking and crossing.

Legally speaking, learning the road signs is one of the primary requirements for getting a driver’s license. The LTO written exam even has a section dedicated to it.

Read more: Road Accident Laws Motorists Should Know

What are Different Types of Road Signs in the Philippines?

road signs in the Philippines - different types of road signs

You’ll  see assortments of road and traffic signs in the Philippines, and it’s important that you know them by heart. These signs can be divided into the following categories.

Regulatory Signs

As the name suggests, regulatory signs provide information on traffic laws and regulations. Some classic examples include STOP,  GIVE WAY, NO ENTRY, and speed limit signs. Because motorists are obliged to follow these signs, violating them will result in penalty and sanction.

Warning Signs

Signs under this category are designed to warn motorists and pedestrians about the potentially dangerous conditions on the road or sidewalk. They may tell drivers that the road is steep or there’s a hump ahead. Some signs also tell road users that the area they’re traversing may be prone to flooding and landslides. 


Read More: Eyes on the Road, Hands on the Wheel: What to Know About the Anti-Distracted Driving Act

Guide/Informative Signs

These signs generally guide road users on the direction of specific destinations, the distance of the next city or town, and the location of important roadside services, such as gasoline stations, restaurants, and restrooms. Tourist spots and geographical landmarks (e.g. Taal Lake or Pagsanjan Falls) may also be featured. The Asian Highway[2] route markers also fall under this category.

Expressway Signs

If there are no signs on the expressways, you run the risk of missing your exit. Signs on expressways provide motorists with advanced information that will tell them to drive into their correct lane so that they can exit easily and safely.

Some signs provide information on big no-nos and prohibitions on the expressway, such as pedestrians, animal-drawn vehicles, and long and wide loads. They may also point the drivers to the nearest rest area or service center. There are signs that indicate the start and the end of the expressway. Some special signs, on the other hand, may give drivers valuable reminders such as checking their brakes and reducing their speed.

Traffic Instruction Signs

road signs in the Philippines - use pedestrian crossing

The signs under this category actually complement the regulatory signs and support the implementation of traffic rules. They tell motorists and pedestrians to follow the specific instructions on the road that they’re using. Examples for pedestrians include USE OVERPASS or USE PEDESTRIAN CROSSING. If you’re a motorist, watch out for signs like REDUCE SPEED, SLOW VEHICLES USE RIGHT LANE, or TURN RIGHT ANYTIME WITH CARE.

Hazard Markers

These hazard markers are set up to tell drivers that the road ahead will be changing its direction, or that an obstruction is in place. Examples of these indicators are the series of red arrows (or chevron signs) that you see on long, winding provincial roads. These are actually called one-way hazard markers, which signal the driver to follow the direction of the arrow, as the road ahead bends.

Road Work Signs

Signs falling under this category inform road users that a construction or excavation work is on-going. They also warn of potential dangers within the area (e.g. deep holes, falling debris). These signs may also prompt the driver to slow down or change their route.

Read more: Huwag Kang Pasaway: 10 Driving Tips for Kamote Drivers

Anatomy of a traffic sign infographic

Road Signs in the Philippines FAQs

Road signs are very straightforward and easy to understand. Nevertheless, you may still have some questions related to them. Hopefully, you’ll find the answers in this section.

1. Are pavement markings considered road signs?

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Land Transportation Office (LTO) place pavement markings in a different category. Nevertheless, learning these marks is essential since they complement the road signs and add another layer of safety for both drivers and pedestrians. Some examples of pavement markings include the following:

  • Longitudinal lines – These include double solid yellow lines, center line, lane line, transition lines, and the like.
  • Traverse lines – These include STOP lines and pedestrian intersections.
  • Others – These include DO NOT BLOCK intersection lines, turn lines, and lane lines for buses and PUJs.

2. What happens if I disregard the road signs?

If you disregard the road signs and symbols in the Philippines, you become a traffic violator. The worst that can happen is a fatal accident. Keep in mind that each violation comes with a penalty or sanction. First offense may require you to pay a fine of PHP 150. Check this list to see relevant traffic violations.[3]

If you’re driving within Metro Manila, remember that there’s a No Contact Traffic Apprehension Policy in place. This policy uses CCTV, digital cameras, and other gadgets to capture videos and images of vehicles violating traffic laws, rules, and regulations.[4] This means that even if your violation is not caught by an MMDA constable, you’ll still receive the summons to settle your fines and penalties within seven days.  

One good thing about this policy is that it allows you to check if you have an active violation. You can do so by visiting the website called May Huli Ba?, which is developed by the MMDA.[5]

Read more: MMDA Violations and Fees Every Motorist Must Know About

The LTO Driver’s License Exam is composed of theoretical and practical tests that will determine if you really know what the traffic signs are. If you want to learn more about this aspect of driving, just visit LTO’s Land Transportation Management System (LTMS) portal[6] and access the learning materials.

Here’s how you can access the materials:

  • On the LTMS page, click the E-Learning tab.
  • Click Getting Ready to Drive.
  • On the next page, click Road Traffic Signs. If you want to learn more about road markings, click Pavement Markings instead.

The E-Learning tab also leads you to other topics that will help you become a responsible driver, such as the following:

  • Driving Fundamentals
  • Road Courtesy and Safety
  • Rights, Duties, and Responsibilities of Drivers
  • Land Transportation-Related Laws

Read more: 6 Traffic Laws to Remember When Driving in the Philippines

Final Thoughts

Numbers don’t lie. The statistical figures cited at the beginning of this article say that there are still many irresponsible drivers out there. If you’re a motorist, you need to understand that the road is a dangerous place by default and that you have to navigate it with utmost care and caution. The worst that can happen is a fatal accident, but do you really need to wait for it to happen before you become more conscious of your driving?

The same goes for pedestrians. If you’re a runner or biker, you have to keep in mind that following traffic rules is also for your own good. Shortcuts may get you faster to your destination, but at what cost?

If you’re still reading this part of the article, congratulations. You’re one step closer to becoming a good driver and responsible pedestrian.  

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