Know Your Speed Limits
The speed limit is the absolute maximum permitted in
law. It does not mean it is safe to drive at that speed
irrespective of conditions. Driving at speeds too fast for the road
and traffic conditions can be dangerous.
You should always reduce your speed when:
- the road layout or condition presents hazards such as
- sharing the road with pedestrians and cyclists, particularly
children, and motorcyclists
- weather conditions make it safer to do so
- driving at night as it is harder to see other road
This sign shows that the national speed limit
The table below shows the national speed
limits. These apply to all roads unless signs show otherwise. As
well as the speed limits on the roads themselves, certain classes
of vehicle are subject to their own speed limits, and the lesser
speed limit must be adhered to.
Do you know the national speed limits?
In our Public Opinion Survey conducted in August 2006, just over
half of respondents knew the speed limits applicable on dual
carriageways and single lane country roads where the national speed
limit sign is shown.
Motor vehicle limits (as shown in the Highway Code)
Built up areas
* If you are unsure of the speed limit on a particular road
where it is built up and there are streetlights, assume that the
speed limit is 30mph. If the speed limit is above 30mph there will
be repeater speed limit signs placed in regular intervals. The law
does not allow Highways Authorities to place repeater speed limit
signs in a 30mph area where there is a system of street lighting,
lit or unlit.
Dual carriageways in built-up areas may have reduced speed
limits of 50mph, 40mph and even 30mph to ensure the safety of all
On dual carriageways where a saloon car may be driven at 70mph,
a Transit van, being a goods vehicle and not a "car derived van",
is restricted by its class to a speed limit of 60mph.
* The speed limit for goods vehicles not exceeding 7.5 tonnes is
60mph on motorways if the vehicle is articulated or towing a
What is a "car derived van"?
Under the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, a "car derived van"
is defined as:- "A goods vehicle which is constructed or adapted as
a derivative of a passenger vehicle and which has a maximum laden
weight not exceeding 2 tonnes."
The important word in this definition is "and" as there are
goods vehicles that look as if they are based on a passenger
vehicle, but when the manufacturer puts a gross laden weight on the
goods vehicle, which is the design weight of the vehicle plus the
maximum load that it is designed to carry, and this exceeds 2
tonnes, that vehicle is no longer a car derived van. The van
becomes an ordinary goods vehicle under 7.5 tonnes gross weight,
and is therefore subject to the speed limits as shown in the
As a "rule of thumb" any van larger than a Vauxhall Astra van
will have a gross weight in excess of 2 tonnes and is therefore
subject to the reduced "class of vehicle" speed limits. Ford
Transit, Mercedes Sprinter, Mercedes Vito, Peugeot Expert and Ford
Connect, for example, are restricted vans.
It is immaterial that a goods vehicle may be unladen at the time
it is detected exceeding the speed limit. The construction of the
vehicle that enables it to be used up to the 7.5 tonnes maximum
weight is the relevant criteria.