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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 bends
- 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 users 

 Beds-RoadSafety-Speed

This sign shows that the national speed limit applies.
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)

Speed limit table
   Beds-RoadSafety-BuiltUpAreas  Beds-RoadSafety-SingleCarriageways  Beds-RoadSafety-DualCarriageways  Beds-RoadSafety-Motorway
Types of vehicle   MPH  MPH  MPH  MPH
 Beds-RoadSafety-Car
Cars & Motorcycles (including car derived up to 2 tonnes maximum laiden weight
 Beds-RoadSafety-Speed30  Beds-RoadSafety-Speed60  Beds-RoadSafety-Speed70  Beds-RoadSafety-Speed70
Beds-RoadSafety-CarCaravan
Cars towing caravans or trailers (including car derived vans & motorcycles)
Beds-RoadSafety-Speed30 Beds-RoadSafety-Speed50 Beds-RoadSafety-Speed60 Beds-RoadSafety-Speed60
Beds-RoadSafety-Bus
Buses and coaches (not exceeding 12 meters in overall length)
Beds-RoadSafety-Speed30 Beds-RoadSafety-Speed50 Beds-RoadSafety-Speed60 Beds-RoadSafety-Speed70
Beds-RoadSafety-Lorry
Good vehicles (not exceeding 7.5 tonnes)
Beds-RoadSafety-Speed30 Beds-RoadSafety-Speed50 Beds-RoadSafety-Speed60 Beds-RoadSafety-Speed60
Beds-RoadSafety-DualLorry
Good vehicles (exceeding 7.5 tonnes maximum laden weight)
Beds-RoadSafety-Speed30

England and Wales:

 Beds-RoadSafety-Speed50

Scotland:

England and Wales:

 Beds-RoadSafety-Speed60

 

Scotland:

Beds-RoadSafety-Speed50

Beds-RoadSafety-Speed60


Notes:

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

Dual carriageways in built-up areas may have reduced speed limits of 50mph, 40mph and even 30mph to ensure the safety of all road users.

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.

Motorways

* The speed limit for goods vehicles not exceeding 7.5 tonnes is 60mph on motorways if the vehicle is articulated or towing a trailer.

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 Highway Code.

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.

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