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Vienna Convention on Road Traffic
|Signed||8 November 1968|
|Effective||21 May 1977|
|Languages||English, French, Chinese, Russian and Spanish|
|Vienna Convention on Road Traffic at Wikisource|
The Convention on Road Traffic, commonly known as the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic, is an international treaty designed to facilitate international road traffic and to increase road safety by establishing standard traffic rules among the contracting parties. The convention was agreed upon at the United Nations Economic and Social Council's Conference on Road Traffic (7 October – 8 November 1968) and concluded in Vienna on 8 November 1968. It came into force on 21 May 1977. The convention has been ratified by 78 countries, but those who have not ratified the convention may still be parties to the 1949 Convention on Road Traffic. This conference also produced the Convention on Road Signs and Signals.
The Vienna Convention on Road Traffic was concluded at Vienna on 8 November 1968. Since its entry into force on 21 May 1977, in signatory countries ("Contracting Parties") it replaces previous road traffic conventions, notably the 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic, in accordance with Article 48 of the Convention.
The United States and China are the most notable examples of non-signatory countries. Short-term tourists are not permitted to bring cars into China. All foreign-registered vehicles in China must display a Chinese vehicle registration plate.
One of the main benefits of the convention for motorists is the obligation on signatory countries to recognize the legality of vehicles from other signatory countries. The following requirements must be met when driving outside the country of registration:
- Cars must display their registration number at the front and rear, even if legislation in the jurisdiction of registration does not require a front vehicle registration plate on cars. Motorcycles need to display their registration number only at the rear. Registration numbers must be composed either of numerals or of numerals and letters. They must be displayed in capital Latin characters and Arabic numerals. In addition to this, the registration number may optionally be displayed in a different alphabet.
- A distinguishing sign of the country of registration must be displayed on the rear of the vehicle. This sign may either be placed separately from the registration plate or may be incorporated into the vehicle registration plate. When the distinguishing sign is incorporated into the registration plate, it must also appear on the front registration plate of the vehicle. The physical requirements for the separate sign are defined in Annex 3 of the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic, which states that the letters shall be in black on a white background having the shape of an ellipse with the major axis horizontal. The distinguishing sign should not be affixed in such a way that it could be confused with the registration number or impair its legibility. When the distinguishing sign is incorporated into the registration plate, it must also appear on the front registration plate of the vehicle, and may be supplemented with the flag or emblem of the national state, or the emblem of the regional economic integration organization to which the country belongs. The distinguishing sign should be displayed on the far left or far right on the registration plate. When a symbol/flag/emblem is also displayed, the distinguishing sign shall obligatory be placed on the far left on the plate. The distinguishing sign shall be positioned so to be easy identifiable and so that it cannot be confused with the registration number or impair its legibility. The distinguishing sign shall therefore be at least a different color from the registration number, or have a different background color to that reserved for the registration number, or be clearly separated from the registration number, preferably with a line.
- In practice, the requirement to display a distinguishing sign, as defined in the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic, is mutually waived between some countries, for example within the European Economic Area, for vehicles with license plates in the common EU format (which satisfies the requirements of the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic, and hence are also valid in non-EU countries signatory to the convention) issued in EU member states, and between Canada, the United States, and Mexico (where the province, state, or district of registration is usually embossed or surface-printed on the vehicle registration plate).
- The vehicle must meet all technical requirements to be legal for road use in the country of registration. Any conflicting technical requirements (e.g., right-hand-drive or left-hand-drive) in the signatory country where the vehicle is being driven do not apply.
- The driver must carry the vehicle's registration certificate, and if the vehicle is not registered in the name of an occupant of the vehicle (e.g., a hire car), proof of the driver's right to be in possession of the vehicle.
The convention also addresses minimum mechanical and safety equipment needed to be on board and defines an identification mark (Annex 4) to identify the origin of the vehicle.
Vienna Convention and autonomous driving
One of the fundamental principles of the Convention has been the concept that a driver is always fully in control and responsible for the behavior of a vehicle in traffic. This requirement is challenged by the development of technology for collision avoidance systems and autonomous driving.
International conventions on transit transport
The broad objective of these international conventions and agreements, the depositary of which is the Secretary-General of the United Nations, is to facilitate international transport while providing for a high level of safety, security, and environmental protection in transport:
- Agreement on the International Carriage of Perishable Foodstuffs and on the Special Equipment to be used for such Carriage (ATP) (1970)
- Convention on Customs Treatment of Pool Containers Used in International Transport (1994)
- Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods By Road (1956) and its protocol (1978)
- Convention concerning Customs Facilities for Touring (1954)
- Customs Convention on Containers (1956, 1972)
- Customs Convention on the Temporary Importation of Commercial Road Vehicles (1956)
- Customs Convention on the Temporary Importation of Private Road Vehicles (1954)
- European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR) (1957) and its Protocol amending articles 1 and 14 (1993)
- Geneva Convention on Road Traffic (1949)
- European Agreement concerning the Work of Crews of Vehicles engaged in International Road Transport (1970)
- International Convention to Facilitate the Crossing of Frontiers for Passengers and Baggage Carried by Rail (1952)
- International Convention to Facilitate the Crossing of Frontiers for Goods Carried by Rail (1952)
- International Convention on the Harmonization of Frontier Controls of Goods (1982)
- TIR Convention
- "Status of 19. Convention on Road Traffic". United Nations. Retrieved 2019-03-22.
- "Council Regulation (EC) No 2411/98". Council of the European Union. 3 November 1998.
- Global Automotive Regulation page related to automated driving
- "Treaty Seminar Issues Note" (PDF). United Nations. 8 July 2004.
- Ratifications (list of countries)
- Vienna Convention on Road Traffic (Consolidated version).
- Distinguishing signs used on vehicles in international traffic (status as at 15 February 2007)
- Official text in several languages (version 1977) 
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