A Guide To: Speed Limits
by Sarah Lomas
In a recent WBAC survey, 40% of people asked admitted to speeding and one in five said they speed at least once a week.
We all know it’s against the law to go above the speed limit, but how well do actually know UK speed limit laws? Some may be quite obvious, but others more obscure.
If you don’t know the ins and outs and are caught you could receive an on-the-spot fine and penalty points. Or even go to court where you could potentially be disqualified from driving.
What is the basic speed limit law?
The first speed limit was 4mph in the country and 2mph in the city…! It was introduced in 1861 as part of the Locomotives on Highway Act. Today, things are thankfully a little different. UK speed limits are generally 30mph in urban areas, 60mph on single carriage roads, and 70mph on dual carriageways and motorways.
However, there are some exceptions to this which usually depend on the type of vehicle. Vans are only allowed to travel at 50mph on single carriage roads and 60mph on dual carriageways.
What types of speed limits are there?
Fixed Speed Limits
These are the most common types of speeds limits and are identified by a number within a red sign. Typically, 20, 30, 40 and 50mph zones will be sign posted by number, but other ‘national speed limit’ roads will identified by a circular sign with a black diagonal stripe through. For cars, the ‘national speed limit’ is 60mph on single carriage raods and 70mph on dual carriageways and motorways.
Variable Speed Limits
You’ll often seen this type on increasingly common smart motorways, as they are used to reduce traffic congestion, but are also used during roadworks or for incidents. They are enforced by average speed cameras that clock your speed at different intervals.
Minimum Speed Limits
The least common type, these are denoted by a blue circular sign with the minimum speed limit. They are used where going too slowly could cause congestion or an incident.
These have been introduced on roads where there are other road users, e.g. outside schools or residential areas. They are typically used alongside speed bumps.
What are the speed limits for different vehicles on different roads?
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