When road signs must be obeyed

Drivers are often confused about the difference between a regulatory sign and an advisory sign.

A regulatory sign generally has black characters or symbols on a white background and an advisory sign has black characters or symbols on a yellow background.

So, what's the difference?

The regulatory sign must be obeyed exactly as it is read.

Examples of regulatory signs include speed limits, turn restrictions, parking restrictions and directional instructions. Failure to obey these signs is an offence and drivers may be charged if they choose not to follow the instruction.

An advisory sign is just that, advice that you may choose to take or ignore as your experience and the conditions dictate.

Examples of advisory signs are the speed tabs found under curve signs or the slow sign displayed by flag persons.

Failure to obey these signs is only an offence if something happens as a result of ignoring the advice and the offence is generally for the misadventure that occurs.

Need a quick brushup on what road signs mean?

Drop by your local Driver Service Centre (where you renew your driver's licence) and ask for a free copy of Learn to Drive Smart. The signs, signals and road markings are explained in Chapter 3.

This information is also available on ICBC's web site at

Thanks and Happy New Year everyone!

For more information on this topic, visit Questions or comments are welcome by e-mail to Tim Schewe is a retired RCMP constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. His column appears Thursdays.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.