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speed limit signs on the side of a road
01 Mar2022

What does a yellow speed limit sign mean?

Many drivers have likely seen yellow speed limit signs for years without considering if they are somehow different from a typical white speed sign and, if so, how they are different.   It turns out the purpose of these signs is more than to add a splash of color to the roadways.  Yellow speed limit signs with black lettering indicate a temporary “recommended speed” in areas where a reduced speed is advised.  

What does a yellow speed limit sign mean?

A yellow sign means that it is recommended you drive slower than the otherwise posted speed limit in the area.  There may be an upcoming intersection, a curve in the road, a change in the terrain, construction or other hazards, etc.

When you see a yellow sign, it’s important to obey the recommended speed limit, even if other drivers appear to disregard it. First and most importantly, the slower speed is recommended for your own safety and the safety of others.  As far as tickets are concerned, while an officer wouldn’t issue a speeding ticket based on a “recommended” speed limit, the law does provide an officer with an option to issue a speeding ticket for traveling at an “unreasonable” and “imprudent” speed.  These are tickets where a specific speed isn’t cited but instead the officer feels that, under the circumstances, the motorist was driving too fast.  Icy roadways are an example and so are curves and other areas where yellow recommended speed limits may be posted.  

White vs. Yellow Speed Limit Signs

Speed limit signs come in two color combinations: white and black, and yellow and black.

The change in color is significant, as stated by the Department of Transportation:

“The color of roadway signs is an important indicator of the information they contain. … A white background indicates a regulatory sign; yellow conveys a general warning message….” 

What this means is that when you see a yellow speed limit sign, the safe speed limit for the area has temporarily changed.  Once driving conditions return to normal, a white speed limit sign should be places to indicated that the danger area with the recommended lower speed limit has ended.  

Implications of Ignoring a Yellow Speed Limit Sign

When approaching a yellow speed limit sign, it is important to remember that it is potentially unsafe to continue driving at the previously posted speed limit.

Drivers who ignore this warning could receive a ticket for an unreasonable speed or could fare even worse if an accident occurs.   

Received a Ticket? Call TicketHelp!

If you have been ticketed for speeding in New York, it is important to understand what options you may have to avoid or minimize the potential consequences of the speeding summons.  There are many situations where something can be done regardless of your particular circumstances.  

Feel free to reach out to the New York traffic ticket lawyers at Feifer & Greenberg for a no cost or obligation consultation.  We can help you determine what you may be facing and what you may be able to do about it.