These signs are unknown to many – ADAC expert reveals how to derive meaning.
In almost no other country are there as many traffic signs as in Germany. According to ADAC estimates, there are 20 to 25 million traffic signs. Some signs are only known to a few and new ones are constantly being added.
For example, do you know what this sign means?
It does not mean that only one car that can fit four people is allowed to park here.
The traffic sign points to a parking space reserved for carsharing vehicles. It is mainly found in big cities.
Or do you know this sign (with a black dot in a black circle)?
It indicates the center of cities. Although it was introduced in 2007, according to an ADAC survey, only a quarter of drivers know what it means.
Many road users are also unfamiliar with the red dot with the direction arrow. It marks a pre-established large-scale demand diversion. For example, drivers can take the ideal route from a motorway exit to the next exit in the direction of their destination.
The General German Automobile Club has been complaining about the number of signs in Germany for years. According to an ADAC pilot project, a third of all signs could easily be removed – and are therefore superfluous.
But it’s not just signs that bother German drivers. In a 2022 test, the ADAC found massive knowledge gaps among drivers.
Katharina Luca from ADAC explains where the biggest deficits are.
In our knowledge test from last year, we asked ADAC members and drivers about 20 questions that also appear in the theory test and the driver’s license test. And the result was actually rather mixed. So many questions really didn’t get stuck. For example, such basic things as the zipper process. Only a quarter of the respondents could answer correctly.
There were further gaps in knowledge when it came to questions about the fine dust sticker, telephoning in the car and driving physics. As expected, new drivers had a knowledge advantage. But what can drivers do if their own theory test was years ago and they want to refresh their knowledge?
Katharina Luca: Well, if you’re unsure about the traffic signs, there are of course websites like adac.de where you can look up the signs. If you come across something in traffic that you don’t know, then you can usually look it up again at home and find out more if you know what it looks like. There are also these theory questions from the driver’s license exams on many pages, where you can test yourself a bit. Of course there are other driving safety training courses, where these things with the signs are practiced again if you as a driver have the feeling that you don’t know exactly what to do anymore.
If you know the basic rules of the signs, drivers can often derive a meaning.
Katharina Luca: Well, there are a few characteristics by which you can recognize some signs.
For example danger signs, which are triangles pointing upwards, white with a border, then you already know that.
Then there are the so-called prohibition signs, which are round, white with a red border, so it’s also relatively clear that it’s a ban.
And then there are mandatory signs, they are round and blue.
And then there are signs that can actually look very different, whether they indicate detours or tourist highlights. For example, there are things like that.
And then there are two signs in German traffic that are actually unique and that you always have to recognize as a driver, even if they are snowed in, for example.
First of all, there is the stop sign, it is octagonal, it is easy to recognize by its shape. And then the give way sign, it’s triangular and it’s upside down.
I’m a recent graduate of the University of Missouri with a degree in journalism. I started working as a news reporter for 24 Hours World about two years ago, and I’ve been writing articles ever since. My main focus is automotive news, but I’ve also written about politics, lifestyle, and entertainment.