Speed limits in the UK have been around since 1865 and are in place to keep everyone on the roads and in public safety. In today’s OnlyQuestion article, we take a look at why there is a speed limit in the UK. Let’s jump straight into it!
Why is there a speed limit in the UK?
In the UK, speed limits are in place for a few reasons, but the main reason is the safety of yourself, your vehicle, and others around you. The speed limit is the absolute maximum you should drive your car at – and anything over this can be penalised with fines, restrictions, and in some worse cases removal of your driving license or jail time.
What is the UK National Speed Limit?
The national UK speed limit is 30 mph and this applies to all single and dual carriageways with street lights, unless there is one of the speed signs stating another speed. We will look at each one in more detail.
Cars, Motorcycles, Vans and Dual-Purpose vehicles are limited to 30MPH in built-up areas, 60 MPH in Single Carriageways, 70 MPH on dual carriageways and 70 MPH on motorways.
Cars, Motorcycles, Vans, and Dual-Purposes vehicles that are towing trailers or caravans however are limited to 30 MPH in built-up areas, 50 MPH on Single Carriageways, and 60 MPH on Dual carriageways and motorways.
Motorhomes that weigh less than 3.05 tonnes can travel 30mph in built-up areas, 60mph on single carriageways, and 70mph on both dual carriageways and motorways.
Motorhomes that weigh more than 3.05 tonnes can travel 30mph in built-up areas, 50mph on single carriageways, 60mph on dual carriageways and 70mph on motorways.
Buses, coaches and minibuses that are shorter than 12m in length can travel 30mph in built-up areas, 50mph on single carriageways, 60mph on dual carriageways and 70mph on motorways.
Buses, coaches, and minibuses that are longer than 12m in length can travel 30mph in built-up areas, 50mph on single carriageways, 60mph on dual carriageways, and 60mph on motorways.
Goods vehicles that are lighter than 7.5 tonnes maximum laden weight can travel at 30mph in built-up areas, 50mph on single carriageways, 60mph on dual carriageways and 70mph on motorways, or 60mph on motorways if articulated or towing.
Goods vehicles that are more than 7.5 tonnes maximum laden weight in England and Wales can travel 30mph in built-up areas, 50mph on single carriageways, 60mph on dual carriageways and 60mph on motorways.
Goods vehicles that are more than 7.5 tonnes maximum laden weight in Scotland can travel 30mph in built-up areas, 40mph on single carriageways, 50mph on dual carriageways, and 60mph on motorways.
What are Locally Set Speed Limits?
In some cases, local councils can and will set their own speed limits around certain areas such as schools, or market places where there may be twisty/bendy roads as well as heavy foot traffic. In some examples, you will typically find a 20 mph speed limit around schools or 50mph where a road has sharp bends or blind hills.
What is a Speed Limiter?
For some people, your car or vehicle may be fitted with a speed limiter. A speed limiter is a small device that is applied to vehicles that limit the amount of fuel supplied to the engine. In short, this means that the engine is not capable of reaching high speeds, and is usually set below the speed limit.
Vehicles that are capable of more than 8 passenger seats such as minibuses, coaches, limousines as well as large trucks that weigh more than 3.5 tonnes (government standard) will all be fitted with factory speed limiters.
Speed limiters are only in place to reduce accidents that happen due to careless driving, or driver/vehicle error. This means that the vehicle with the fitted speed limiter can’t reach the speed limit.
Some speed limiters are not physically based (such as electric vehicles and smart vehicles) that are capable of limiting the ECU (the computer of the engine) to prevent speeding. This is not standard in all cars due to rare occurrences where speed may be required such as overtaking.
Conclusion on UK Speed Limits
Overall, the UK speed limits are in place to protect you and the people around you, and we’re glad they’re in a place as they save lives without knowing it every single day! Be sure to check the UK highway code for more information!