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
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)
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 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.
* 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.