I am travelling by car in the USA (Massachusetts). Am I supposed to respect traffic signs that are upside down?
E.g. on this road, there have been an upside down 25 MPH speed limit for a while, I have no idea whether I am allowed ignore it:
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Yes, any sign posted in the US is intended to be followed unless it explicitly has an X over it or it is covered up. Most likely the top screw of this sign has come loose and no maintenance has been done to fix it. Typically signs that are meant to not be respected are covered with black plastic or a board so they aren't even legible.
However, yellow signs like the one in the picture are advisory and following them exactly is usually not obligatory.
That is definitely still a valid sign, although a lawyer could probably use the fact that the sign was damaged to avoid a related traffic ticket.
It's also a yellow warning sign, which means that the speed limit is still that which was posted on a white sign. You cannot be ticketed for going the speed limit, although the implication is that if you do hit a bicycle or a pedestrian in a crosswalk, you'll be more liable for negligence than if you had slowed down. Basically, if it's a time of day when foot traffic is high in the area, you probably shouldn't be doing 35. But if it's 4am and you're the only one on the road, you definitely don't have to slow down.
The sign being upside-down is irrelevant, for reasons I'll describe.
USDOT has a standard for how everybody in the US should do street signs.
Your sign is yellow, and thus, advisory: Not enforceable per se. However, police have several options for writing you a ticket regardless.
Note that none of these above citations require the sign to even exist. Therefore, the sign being upside-down has no legal weight. The sign is just a reminder of something a competent driver should already observe.
This sort of thing is often done deliberately as a "traffic calming" tactic. If you drive aggressively to defeat "traffic calming", you'll anger the cops, because they were part of the planning/design process, and may have recommended it in the first place because they were sick of cleaning up accidents here.
Now, the most important signs - passive (unpowered) traffic controls - actually get special treatment.
They are coded with a totally unique shape not used by any other sign. You are obliged to recognize them by shape even if snow covered, vandalized, or tilted. Let's see if you can get them right.
Railroad crossing ahead
You knew this one!
Intersection just beyond. STOP. Then look for cross traffic and yield to it.
Yeah, it could be green and say "GO!" Still means stop.
That railroad crossing we warned you about earlier, is here.
Watch out for the locomotive. Also, don't drive into the side of the train.
Intersection just beyond. Look for cross traffic and yield to it.
You notice that I was naughty. The first and fourth signs were rotated 60 degrees from normal. That doesn't matter.
Another unique is the oblong triangle pointing right, always on the wrong side of the road. It means "You've run out of passing lane, bud. Finish or abort your pass, right now." But it would not be mistaken for a yield.