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6 Road Signs From Around the World You Won't See in the U.S.

Updated: Dec 15, 2023

When you’re driving in a new country, the road is going to feel a little different. Maybe you find yourself driving on the left side of the street when you’re used to the right. There could be a new speed limit to adjust to. In extreme circumstances, you could find yourself on more perilous terrain than back home. Thankfully, there are often road signs to guide you, whether you’re dealing with unique geography, a different set of wildlife, or just culture shock. These six road signs might make you do a double-take if you drive past one — but try to keep your eyes on the road!

Greenland: Sled Crossing

Dog sledding is part of everyday life in icy Greenland, where you can’t even travel one town over by car. Because the topography of the land includes a high concentration of mountains and fjords, it’s impossible to build a full road system. The Indigenous Inuit people have been traveling by dog sled for centuries, and even have a specific breed of dog(appropriately, Greenland dogs) bred for the job. So it’s no wonder there’s a sign for when dog sleds are likely to be present. It’s a triangle with a bold red outline and a silhouette of a sled on it. There’s a similar sign for snowmobiles, which you’ll need if you don’t have access to a dog sled.

India: PEEP PEEP DON’T SLEEP

Border Roads Organisation (BRO) is an Indian government entity that maintains roads along the country’s border areas. BRO’s project Himank builds and maintains roads in the Ladakh region high up in the Himalayas, including the highest-altitude road in the world. But it’s not just the height that sets those roads apart — it’s the bright yellow stone signs with notoriously wacky safety slogans warning travelers against falling asleep at the wheel, driving drunk, and distracted driving. Examples include “AFTER WHISKY DRIVING RISKY,” "DRIVE ON HORSEPOWER, NOT RUM POWER," "SAFETY ON THE ROAD, ‘SAFE TEA’ AT HOME," and “PEEP PEEP DON’T SLEEP.” Slogans like “IF YOU SLEEP YOUR FAMILY WILL WEEP” are especially ominous.

Not all of the signs are about safety; some just offer general encouragement (“WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH, THE TOUGH GET GOING”) or dubiously attributed celebrity quotes (“WITHOUT GEOGRAPHY YOU’RE NOWHERE” — JIMMY BUFFETT).

Australia: Kangaroo Crossing

In Australia, kangaroos are involved in a significant number of animal-related accidents. In the state of New South Wales (NSW), where kangaroos roam even in urban areas, collisions are especially common — sometimes because a car hits a kangaroo, other times because a car swerves to miss a kangaroo. In a telephone survey of residents of Canberra — the capital of Australia, located in NSW — 17% of car owners reported some kind of kangaroo collision. Usually kangaroo crossing signs look like wildlife warning signs familiar in the United States and other countries, with a silhouette of a kangaroo on a yellow diamond. In some areas that see a lot of kangaroo collisions, the signs get bigger and brighter, and include a number to call in case of injured wildlife.

While kangaroo signs have never officially popped up in the United States, one prankster in North Carolina mounted an unofficial one in such a convincing way that it made the local news.

Iceland: Public Hot Tub Ahead

Iceland is world-renowned for its weird, cute, and one-of-a-kind road signs, like a pretzel indicating the way to a bakery. (One northern town also has heart-shaped stop lights.) Even the country’s most logistical signage is a major target of theft because of the nation’s unique geography and the graphic design that warns of it — images of cars driving into water or bouncing on rough terrain are common.

Iceland’s roadside service markers are incredibly thorough, with little icons indicating everything from crossing divers (a person wearing a snorkel and flippers in a crosswalk) to dog hotels (a dog with a roof over its head). One particularly useful sign in Iceland’s cold climate lets drivers know of a nearby hot tub: It features a head emerging from water with a thermometer next to it. Sans thermometer, it means there’s a public pool nearby, which is still nice.

Newfoundland: Moose With Car Wreck

Moose crossing signs are present wherever moose are common, but they typically just have a silhouette of a moose, like other wildlife crossing signs. A national park in Newfoundland, Canada, has a different design — one that adds a sense of urgency.

Moose are not native to Newfoundland, and the first ones arrived relatively recently, in 1904. These giant creatures throw a wrench in the natural ecosystem, and the natural forests are having trouble regenerating as a result of excessive moose-snacking. Meanwhile, with abundant food and few predators, the moose are having a great time. As a result, there are way too many of them, and drivers run into them pretty frequently. Most of Newfoundland has a simple sign of a single moose, but in Gros Morne National Park, the moose is joined by a wrecked car. That helps drive home the point that striking a moose is extremely dangerous for both the animal and the driver.

Germany: Entering Autobahn



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