Road speed limits in the United Kingdom
Road speed limits in the United Kingdom are used to define the maximum legal speed (which may be variable) for vehicles using public roads in the UK, and are one of the measures available to attempt to control traffic speeds. The speed limit in each location is indicated on a nearby traffic sign or by the presence of street lighting. Signs show speed limits in miles per hour (mph) or use the national speed limit (NSL) symbol.
The speed limit is 70 mph on motorways, 70 mph on dual carriageways, 60 mph on single carriageways and 30 mph in areas with street lighting (restricted roads). These limits may be reduced by roadside signs and apply to cars, motorcycles, car-derived vans up to 2 tonnes maximum laden weight (MLW), and to motorhomes or motor caravans not more than 3.05 tonnes maximum unladen weight. Other classes of vehicles are subject to lower limits on some roads.
Speed limits in the UK are used to define maximum desirable traffic speeds for the purposes of road safety (to reduce the number of road casualties), to reduce negative environmental impacts of traffic, to increase fuel use efficiency and to satisfy local community wishes.
Enforcement of UK road speed limits was traditionally done using police 'speed traps' set up and operated by the police who now increasingly use speed guns, automated in-vehicle systems and automated roadside traffic cameras. Some vehicle categories have various lower maximum limits enforced by speed limiters.
Ever since they have been introduced, speed limits have been controversial. They have either been opposed or supported from various sources; including motoring advocacy groups, anti-motoring groups and others who either consider them to be irrelevant, set too low or set too high.
- 1 Current regulations
- 2 Types of speed limit
- 3 Justification
- 4 Effectiveness
- 5 Enforcement
- 6 Advocacy
- 7 History
- 8 Notes
- 9 References
- 10 Further reading
National speed limits
Default maximum speed limits apply to all roads where no specific lower numeric speed limit is already in force. The default speed limit is known as the national speed limit (NSL). The NSLs vary by road type and for vehicle types.
|Restricted road||Single carriageway||Dual carriageway||Motorway|
|Cars and motorcycles (including car-derived vans up to 2 tonnes max laden weight)||30 mph (48 km/h)||60 mph (97 km/h)||70 mph (113 km/h)||70 mph (113 km/h)|
|Vehicles towing caravans or trailers
inc cars, motorcycles, goods vehicles up to 7.5 tonnes MLW
|30 mph (48 km/h)||50 mph (80 km/h)||60 mph (97 km/h)||60 mph (97 km/h)|
|Buses, coaches, minibuses up to 12 metres (39 ft)
Goods vehicles up to 7.5 tonnes MLW
|30 mph (48 km/h)||50 mph (80 km/h)||60 mph (97 km/h)||70 mph (113 km/h)|
|Goods vehicles over 7.5 tonnes MLW (in England and Wales)||30 mph (48 km/h)||50 mph (80 km/h)||60 mph (97 km/h)||60 mph (97 km/h)|
|Goods vehicles over 7.5 tonnes MLW (in Scotland, except A9 Perth to Inverness)||30 mph (48 km/h)||40 mph (64 km/h)||50 mph (80 km/h)||60 mph (97 km/h)|
|Goods vehicles over 7.5 tonnes MLW (on A9 Perth to Inverness)||30 mph (48 km/h)||50 mph (80 km/h)||50 mph (80 km/h)||n/a|
Some classes of vehicles are required to have speed limiters which enforce a maximum speed by physical means. Older vehicles still in use do not have limiters fitted or have them set at a higher speeds. New vehicles should be fitted with limiters as follows:
- Buses and coaches, including Minibuses: 100 km/h (62 mph)[n 1]
- HGVs: 90 km/h (56 mph) or 85 km/h (53 mph) depending on class.[n 1]
- Mopeds: 45 km/h (28 mph)[n 2]
Some other vehicles, especially light commercial or service vehicles, may be voluntarily fitted with limiters by their owners (either private businesspeople or company fleets), generally set at 90, 97, 100, 110 or 113 km/h (56, 60, 62, 68 or 70 mph), though some ultralight citybound service vehicles may be limited to 80 km/h (50 mph) or less. In all cases, a warning sticker must be displayed on the rear of the vehicle and, technically speaking at least, they are not allowed to use the outermost lane of a motorway with 3 or more running lanes, though this rule does not appear to be particularly well known or enforced.
Types of speed limit
Fixed speed limits
Speed limit road signs are used to inform road users where speed limits other than the applicable national speed limit apply. For some types of vehicles, on some types of road, speed limits lower than the signed limit apply.
|Signed||Vehicle type||Speed limit if other than signed|
|Single carriageway||Dual carriageway||Motorway|
|20-50||(special cases only)|
|60||Any Vehicle under 7.5 tonnes towing caravans or trailers; buses, coaches and minibuses up to 12 metres (39 ft) and Goods vehicles up to 7.5 tonnes MLW||50 mph (80 km/h)|
|Goods vehicles over 7.5 tonnes MLW||50 mph (80 km/h)||60 mph (97 km/h)|
|70||Buses, coaches and minibuses up to 12 metres (39 ft) and Goods vehicles up to 7.5 tonnes MLW (modern vehicles also have speed limiters which limit speed further - see below)||n/a*||60 mph (97 km/h)|
|Cars, motorcycles and Goods vehicles up to 7.5 tonnes MLW and towing caravans or trailers||n/a*||60 mph (97 km/h)||60 mph (97 km/h)|
|Goods vehicles over 7.5 tonnes MLW||n/a*||60 mph (97 km/h)||60 mph (97 km/h)|
* a small, decreasing number of single-carriageway motorways do exist, both technical/"secret" and overtly signed, but they are almost universally either subject to a signed limit below 70 mph, or too short for any but the most powerful vehicles to exceed 60 mph for any significant distance.
Variable speed limits
Variable speed limits are used on some major traffic roads. These can be changed in response to weather, traffic levels, time of day or for other reasons with the currently applicable speed limit is displayed using an electronic road sign. Signs with the speed shown in a red circle are compulsory, signs where the speed is not within a red circle are advisory and exceeding these speeds while driving safely within the applicable national speed limit is not in itself an offence. Variable speed limits were introduced on some congested major routes as an element of controlled motorway techniques to improve traffic flows for given prevailing conditions. Part-time variable speed limits may also be used outside schools.
Minimum speed limits
Rarely, minimum speed limits are used, such as through the Mersey Tunnels, to maintain free flow and safe passage through otherwise hazardous or enclosed areas. Circular blue signs with white numbers indicate the start of these limits, and similar signs with a red diagonal line indicate their end. Contrary to popular belief, there is no minimum speed limit on motorways, although certain classes of slow vehicles (as well as those of any class that cannot maintain 25 mph on the level whilst unladen) are prohibited on safety grounds and drivers are expected to not cause unnecessary obstruction by driving unusually slowly.
According to the government, speed limits are used to help achieve appropriate traffic speeds for safety, and environmental and accessibility reasons. The Department for Transport state that "speed limits play a fundamental role" in the effective management of traffic speeds in relation to the safety of both drivers and all other road users.
The 30 mph speed limit in built-up areas was introduced in 1930 in response to high casualty levels. The 70 mph limit on previously unrestricted roads was introduced in 1965 following a number of serious motorway accidents in fog earlier the same year.
The Department for Transport believes that effective speed management involves many components but that speed limits play a 'fundamental role' and are 'a key source of information to road users' particularly as an indicator of the nature and risks posed by that road to both themselves and other motorised and non-motorised road users.
The Parliamentary Select Committee for Transport Safety published a report entitled 'The Ending the Scandal of Complacency' in 2007 which highlighted how casualty levels rise with increasing speed and recommended reducing speed limits on streets with high pedestrian populations and on dangerous rural roads. The report highlights that when two cars crash at 60 mph a driver there is a 90% chance of death which falls to 65% at 50 mph. While recommending 20 mph speed zones the committee noted that these zones 'should not rely on heavy-handed enforcement measures'.
The World Health Organisation published a report in 2004 highlighting that a total of 22% of all 'injury mortality' worldwide were from road traffic injuries in 2002[n 3] and that the speed of vehicles was 'at the core of the problem[n 4] Road incidents are said to be the leading cause of deaths among children 10 – 19 years of age (260,000 children die a year, 10 million are injured).
In 2008 14% of collisions reported to the police had a speed related contributory factor (either "exceeding the speed limit" or "travelling too fast for conditions") reported rising to 24% for fatal accidents and 25% of all road deaths.[n 5] "Exceeding the speed limit" was reported as a contributory factor in 5% of collisions and 14% of fatal collisions. "Travelling too fast for conditions" (but within the prevailing speed limit) was recorded as one of the contributory factors in a further 8% of all collisions (and 9% of all fatal, 9% of all serious and 8% of all slight accidents),[n 6]
The UK government publishes Reported Road Casualties Great Britain (RRCGB) each year, based on road traffic casualties data (STATS19) reported to the police, which has been collected since 1949, and with additional data going back to 1926. The highest number of road fatalities recorded in a single year in GB was 9,196 in 1941.[n 7] The highest number of fatalities during peacetime was 7,985 for 1966,[n 8] following the introduction of the national 70 mph speed limit in 1965 and the year before the legal drink drive limit and the associated Breathalyzer laws were introduced.
The 2009 edition also summarised the characteristics of speed related fatal collisions as typically occurring on unclassified rural 60 mph speed limit roads, the driver being a male under the age of 30, with the collision types being head-on, lost control or cornering and the cause being loss of control whilst cornering or overtaking and the contributory factors being excess or inappropriate speed, loss of control, aggressive, careless or reckless behaviour or in a hurry.[n 9]
Environmental and accessibility
Speed limits are also used where reduced vehicle speeds are desired to help reduce vehicle emissions and traffic noise, and to improve the accessibility conditions for more vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists and to reduce the perceived traffic risk for local people.
During the 1973 oil crisis a temporary maximum national speed limit of 50 mph (80 km/h) was introduced on all roads, including motorways to reduce fuel consumption, which was later progressively raised on Motorways (to 70 mph) and dual carriageways (to 60 mph), before a final change to single and dual carriageway non-motorway roads that produced the current NSL situation.
Parliament estimates that "Most drivers and pedestrians think speeds are generally too high but 95% of all drivers admit to exceeding speed limits". DfT guidance makes it clear that setting speed limits in isolation, or setting ones that are "unrealistically low" may be ineffective and lead to disrespect for the speed limit. Bath and North East Somerset Council say that speed limits on their own do not necessarily reduce traffic speeds and should be supported by enforcement to target "irresponsible drivers" or traffic calming.
20 mph speed limits and zones
The Department for Transport encourages the use of either '20 mph speed limits' or '20 mph speed limit zones' in urban situations where vulnerable road users are at particular risk.
In 1998 the TRL reported that signed 20 mph (32 km/h) speed limits only reduced traffic speeds by about 1 mph and delivered no discernible reduction in accident numbers but that 20 mph zones achieved average speed reductions of 10 mph with child pedestrian accident reductions of 70% and child cyclist accident reductions of 48%. The report noted that the cost of wide area traffic calming was prohibitive.
20 mph speed limits
20 mph speed limits are based on signage alone and are used where 85th percentile speeds are already below 24 mph.
A report published in 2010 by the Department for Transport regarding Portsmouth City Council's 20 mph (32 km/h) speed limit on 410 km (250 mi) of the city's 438 km (272 mi) of roads found a small (1.3 mph) reduction in traffic speed and a small 8% increase in the number of serious accidents – neither of which were statistically significant – and a 21% reduction in the number of accidents. There was a 6% increase in the numbers killed or seriously injured (KSI) – also not statistically significant due to the small numbers involved – and a 22% reduction in the total number of road casualties.
20 mph zones
In places where 20 mph speeds are desired but where excessive speeds (85th percentile speed of 24 mph or above) occur, 20 mph zones are recommended. These have to use traffic calming measures to reduce speeds to below 20 mph.
In 1992 David Harding-Price a parish councillor in Barrow-Upon-Humber proposed a 20 mph speed limit outside the local school. This was rejected by the council. By August 2002, Kingston upon Hull had introduced 112 20-mph zones and 190 km of roads subject to a 20 mph limit covering 26% of the city's streets which they described as contributing to "dramatic reductions in road casualties". Total collisions were reduced by 56%, Killed & seriously injured collisions down 90%, child casualties collisions down 64% and all pedestrian collisions down 54% and child pedestrian collisions down 74%.
A report published in 2008 estimated that following the introduction of 20 mph zones in London, a reduction of casualties by 45% and KSI by 57% occurred.
Research carried out for the Department for Transport, to provide supporting evidence for Local Transport Note 1/11 on shared space, showed that in all of the ten shared space sites that were studied, that although they all had speed limits of 30 mph, that the average speeds on them was around 20 mph.
The introduction of the 70 mph speed limit
In 1966, at the end of the 4-month trial of a blanket 70 mph (113 km/h) speed limit on previously unrestricted roads and motorways, speed checks on the M6 in Cheshire suggested that although cars were actually being driven about 10 mph (16 km/h) faster, they were still usually travelling at speeds below the new limit. The crash rate was lower on the M6 in Staffordshire (the better weather was noted too) and continued to fall on the M5 in Worcestershire as it had before the new limit was imposed, and there was no change in the crash rate on the M6 in Cheshire or on the M1 in Northamptonshire.
Speed limit enforcement is used to check that road vehicles are complying with the speed limits. Methods used include Fixed speed cameras, Average speed cameras and also police operated LIDAR speed guns and older radar speed guns. In addition Vehicle activated sign and Community Speed Watch groups also encourage compliance. For lower speed limits, physical Traffic Calming is normally required. Fixed speed cameras are controversial with various advocacy groups supporting and opposing their use.
The Nottingham Safety Camera Pilot achieved "virtually complete compliance" on the major ring road into the city using average speed cameras, and across all Nottinghamshire SPECS installations their KSI figures have fallen by an average of 65%.
Since they have been introduced various groups have campaigned on the subject who either consider them to be irrelevant, set too low or set too high.
Advocacy groups include Association of British Drivers, The Automobile Association, Living Streets (The Pedestrians' Association), RAC Foundation, RoadPeace, Royal Automobile Club (originally the Automobile Club), Twenty is Plenty (20's Plenty for Us), Safe Speed and others.
The first speed limits in the United Kingdom were set by a series of restrictive Locomotive Acts (in 1861, 1865 and 1878). The 1861 Act introduced a 10 mph (16 km/h) limit (powered passenger vehicles were then termed “light locomotives”). The 1865 'Red Flag Act' reduced the speed limit to 4 mph (6 km/h) in the country and 2 mph (3 km/h) in towns and required a man with a red flag or lantern to walk 60 yards (50 m) ahead of each vehicle, and warn horse riders and horse drawn traffic of the approach of a self-propelled machine. The 1878 Act removed the need for the flag and reduced the distance of the escort to 20 yards (20 m).
Following intense advocacy by motor vehicle enthusiasts, including Harry J. Lawson of the Daimler Company the most restrictive parts of the acts were lifted by the Locomotives on Highways Act 1896. which raised the speed limit to 14 mph (23 km/h) and removed the need for the escort. A celebratory run from London to Brighton was held soon after the act was passed and has been commemorated each year since 1927 by the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run.
The speed limit for motor cars was raised to 20 mph (32 km/h) by the Motor Car Act 1903 which stood until 1 January 1931 when all speed limits for cars and motorcycles were abolished under the Road Traffic Act 1930. Lord Buckmaster's opinion at the time was that the speed limit was removed because "the existing speed limit was so universally disobeyed that its maintenance brought the law into contempt". Between 1930 and 1935 the number of annual road fatalities dropped from 7,305 to 6,502.[n 8] The same act also introduced a 30 mph (48 km/h) speed limits for UK coach services, UK bus services and most HGVs. Buses were not necessarily fitted with Speedometers at this stage.
A 'Road traffic (speedometer) bill' was debated in 1933 relating only to vehicles to which current speed limits applied.
The Road Traffic Act 1934, created by Leslie Hore-Belisha, the then Minister of Transport, introduced a speed limit of 30 mph (48 km/h) in built-up areas for cars and motorcycles which came into effect on 18 March 1935. The definition of a built-up area was based on the presence of street lighting, which had previously been mandated by the Public Health Act 1875. The re-introduction of a speed limit for cars was in response to concern at increased road casualties. The number of fatalities had increased to 7,343 deaths, half of the deaths were pedestrians and of three-quarters of these occurred in built-up areas. Between 1935 and 1940 the number of annual road fatalities increased from 6,502 to 8,609.[n 8]
World War II
A 20 mph (32 km/h) night-time speed limit for built-up areas was introduced in 1940 as an attempt to halt the increase in the number of road casualties occurring during the World War II blackouts. Following the introduction of blackouts fatalities rose on speed-limited roads from 289 in March 1939 to 325 in March 1940. For October 1940 the total number of deaths during daylight (when the speed limit didn't apply) fell, in relation to those for October 1939, from 511 to 462, whereas the figures for the black-out hours (when the speed limit did apply) rose from 501 to 684. The highest number of deaths in any one year in the UK occurred the following year (9,196 people in 1941).[n 10]
On 1 October 1956, the 30 mph (48 km/h) speed limit for built-up areas became permanent under the Road Traffic Act 1956. The speed limit, introduced on a trial basis in 1935, had relied on being renewed by Parliament each year. The maximum speed limit for goods vehicles was raised from 20 mph (32 km/h) to 30 mph (48 km/h) in 1957.
In addition, around 1958 some 30 mph roads had the limit raised to 40 mph to improve transit times, an early example being on Croydon Road in Mitcham, Surrey, saving, it was estimated, 33 seconds in journey time across Mitcham common.
Following a series of serious motorway multiple crashes in the fog in 1965, Tom Fraser, the then Minister of Transport, following consultations in early November with the police and with the National Road Safety Advisory Council (NRSAC), concluded that the crashes were caused by vehicles travelling too fast for the prevailing conditions. The NRSAC advised that a 20 mph (32 km/h) motorway speed limit should be imposed on motorway stretches affected by fog and that a general speed limit of 70 mph (113 km/h) should be experimentally applied for the winter months.
On 25 November 1965 the government announced that a temporary 30 mph (48 km/h) speed limit would be applied to sections of motorway (there were 350 miles (560 km) of it at that time) affected by fog, ice or snow and that a general maximum speed limit of 70 mph (113 km/h) would be applied to all otherwise unrestricted roads, including motorways, for a trial period of four months starting just before Christmas. The four-month trial 70 mph (113 km/h) speed limit on 100,000 miles (160,000 km) of previously unrestricted roads and motorways was introduced at noon on 22 December 1965. Also on that day, the power for the police to apply advisory speed limits of 30 mph (48 km/h) to motorways affected by bad weather was also introduced. The advisory limit was activated by the use of flashing amber lights placed at 1 mile (1.6 km) intervals along the motorways.
In April 1966 Barbara Castle, the new Minister of Transport, decided to extend the experimental 70 mph (113 km/h) limit for a further two months to allow the Road Research Laboratory (RRL) time to collect data as there was still no conclusive evidence of its effectiveness. In May 1966 Barbara Castle extended the experimental period by a further fifteen months to 3 September 1967 as "the case is not proven" but there were signs of crash rate reduction.
In July 1966 the speed limit for "public service vehicles" (notably buses) was raised from 40 mph (64 km/h) to 50 mph (80 km/h). During 1966, the highest number of fatalities during peacetime at 7,985 deaths, was recorded.[n 8]
In July 1967, Castle announced that 70 mph (113 km/h) was to become the permanent maximum speed limit for all roads and motorways. She had accepted RRL evidence that the speed limit had reduced the number of casualties on motorways. She ruled out minimum speed limits for motorways which would also reduce the danger of slow traffic as being too difficult to enforce and likely to increase congestion off the motorways.
The two major motoring organisations at the time, The Automobile Association and the R.A.C. welcomed the maximum speed limits for all-purpose roads, but the R.A.C. would have preferred more flexibility for motorways. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents suggested that a lower speed limit would be more appropriate for all-purpose roads and the Pedestrian's Association for Road Safety condemned the new limits as being too high, preferring 60 mph (97 km/h) limits for all roads. Castle's decision and acceptance of the RRL research at face value was controversial. Peter Walker's motion in Parliament to annul the speed limit on motorways was negatived.
1973 oil crisis
Due to the 1973 oil crisis, a temporary maximum national speed limit of 50 mph (80 km/h) for all roads, including motorways, was introduced on 8 December 1973. The 70 mph (113 km/h) limit was restored on motorways in March 1974 and on all other roads on 8 May 1974.
As an initiative to reduce energy consumption, the national speed limits for otherwise unrestricted single-carriageway and dual-carriageway roads were temporarily reduced to 50 mph (80 km/h) and 60 mph (97 km/h) respectively (motorway speed limits were left unchanged at 70 mph (113 km/h)) from 14 December 1974. In November 1976 the temporary speed limits were extended at least until the end of May 1977. In April 1977, the government announced that the national speed limits for single-carriageway roads was to be increased to 60 mph (97 km/h) and that the 70 mph (113 km/h) speed limit was to be restored on dual-carriageways on 1 June 1977.
A speed limiter requirement for mopeds was introduced in 1977, with the speed cap being progressively redefined from 35 mph (56 km/h), to 30 mph (48 km/h), back up to 50 km/h (31 mph) and finally to 45 km/h (28 mph) in the late 2000s.[n 2]
The 70 mph (113 km/h) speed limit was made permanent in 1978.[n 11]
The Road Traffic Regulation Act, which was passed in 1984, includes legislation relating to speed limits. Part VI of the Act defines the default speed limit for 'regularly'-lit roads, gives local authorities powers to create 'speed limit orders', and exempts emergency vehicles from speed limits; the Act also defines speeding offences.
The first 20 mph (32 km/h) speed limits for residential areas were introduced in 1991[n 12] and then speed limiters for buses and coaches set at 65 mph (105 km/h) and also for HGVs set at 56 mph (90 km/h) in 1994.[n 1] It was made easier for local authorities to introduce a 20 mph (32 km/h) limit in 1999.
In March 2009 the Government consulted on reducing speed limits on rural roads (on which 52% of fatalities had occurred in the previous year) to 50 mph. It explained that 'crashes were more likely on rural parts of the road network, upon most of which the national speed limit of 60 mph applies'. The Conservative opposition party and the AA were both opposed. The president of the AA said that speed limits that are too low can result in a greater number of accidents and that a "blanket reduction of speed limits would not make roads safer, given that many accidents on rural roads involved only one car".
In February 2010 the Department for Transport undertook a consultation to set a 65 mph speed limit for all buses, minibuses and coaches with more than eight passenger seats.[dead link] These proposals were not taken up.
In April 2015 the speed limit for Heavy Goods Vehicles over 7.5 tonnes was increased from 40 to 50 mph on single carriageways and from 50 mph to 60 mph on dual carriageways in England and Wales, but not Scotland. 
- Department for Transport (2009), p.181 "Speed limiter settings lowered to 65 mph for new buses and coaches and to 56 mph for HGVs."
- Department for Transport (2009), p.179 "Mopeds redefined to 30 mph maximum design speed"
- World Health Organisation (2004) p. 34 fig 2.1
- World Health Organisation (2004) p. 76
- Department for Transport (2009), p. 41 "Fourteen per cent of accidents had a speed related contributory factor reported, either exceeding the speed limit or travelling too fast for conditions. This increased to 24% for fatal accidents, accounting for 25% of all road deaths."
- Department for Transport (2009), p. 45 "Exceeding the speed limit was reported as a contributory factor in 5% of all accidents. However, the factor became more signiﬁcant with the severity of the accident. It was reported in 14% of fatal accidents and these accidents accounted for 362 fatalities, 15% of all deaths... The factor travelling too fast for conditions was a contributory factor in 8% of accidents. Again, the proportion of accidents where it was reported rose with the severity of the accident and 9% of fatal resulting in 224 fatalities, 10% of all deaths (Excluding accidents and casualties in accidents which had exceeding the speed limit reported as a contributory factor)"
- Department for Transport (2009), p.106 "The highest record road death figure was 9,196 in 1941"
- Department for Transport (2009), p. 106 table 2
- Department for Transport (2010), pdf p. 91, table 7a
- Department for Transport (2009), p. 106 "The highest record road death figure was 9,196 in 1941"
- Department for Transport (2009), p.179 "60 and 70 mph speed limits are made permanent"
- Department for Transport (2009), p.180 "First 20mph zones introduced"
- Documents referenced from 'Notes' section
- Department for Transport (2009). "Reported Road Casualties Great Britain: 2008 Annual Report". Retrieved 2015-07-30.
- Department for Transport (2010). "Reported Road Casualties Great Britain: 2009 Annual Report". Retrieved 2015-07-30.
- World Health Organisation (2004). "World report on road traffic injury prevention". Retrieved 2010-04-13.
- Other references for article
- "Speed Limits". GOV.UK. UK Government. Retrieved 6 May 2015.
- "Rule 124: Speed Limits". The Official Highway Code. TSO. 2007. p. 41. ISBN 978-0-11-552814-9.
- "A GUIDE TO SPEED LIMITER REQUIREMENTS" (PDF). Department for Transport.
- "Light signals controlling traffic" (PDF). Direct Gov.
- "Variable Speed Limits". UK government. Retrieved 2010-11-03.
- "Tunnel Byelaws" (PDF). Mersey Tunnels. Retrieved 22 January 2012.
- "Traffic signs" (PDF). Highway Code. Retrieved 22 January 2012.
- "Speed limits - how they are set". UK government. Retrieved 2010-11-01.
Speed limits are an important part of achieving appropriate speeds on the road and are adopted for safety, environmental and accessibility reasons.
- "DfT Circular 1/06, new guidance on setting local speed limits" (PDF). Department for Transport. Retrieved 2010-10-07.
Effective speed management involves many components designed to work together to encourage, help and require road users to adopt appropriate and safe speeds. Speed limits play a fundamental role. They are a key source of information to road users, particularly as an indicator of the nature and risks posed by that road to both themselves and other motorised and non-motorised road users. Speed limits should, therefore, be evidence-led, self-explaining and seek to reinforce people’s assessment of what is a safe speed to travel. They should also encourage self-compliance and not be seen by drivers as being a target speed at which to drive in all circumstances.
- "Road accidents". Hansard. 1934-07-16. Retrieved 2010-05-03.
I presume that my hon. and gallant Friend refers to the weekly records of persons killed or injured in road accidents which have been obtained since the middle of March. I regret that the most recent returns have shown an increase in the number of accidents, but while I do not wish to detract from the seriousness of the situation it must be borne in mind, in comparing the figures for successive weeks, that there is now a seasonal increase in the amount of traffic on the roads combined with an increase in the number of new registrations.
- "70 M.P.H. Limit For Four Months". The Times. 1965-11-25. p. 12.
- "The Ending the Scandal of Complacency: Road Safety beyond 2010: Further Government Response to the Committee's Eleventh Report of Session 2007–08" (PDF). PACT. Retrieved 2010-10-07.
The proposals in our consultation document aimed at achieving lower speeds in streets with high pedestrian populations and on the more dangerous rural single carriageways with poor casualty records, for example, are based on problems which we have identified in the system (p.4) ... For example, in a head-on collision in which two cars crashed at 60 mph a driver has a 90% chance of dying. This is reduced to 65% at 50 mph. That is why we are making sure that highway authorities have the accurate risk information and the support they need to alter speed limits and zones where this is the right thing to do.
- "UN raises child accidents alarm". BBC News. 2008-12-10.
- "Road Casualties Great Britain: 2006 - Annual Report". Department for Transport. p. 92. Retrieved 2010-01-09.
- "Roads - Speed Limits". Bath & North East Somerset Council. Retrieved 2010-10-31.
It is recognised that speed limits on their own do not necessarily reduce the speed of vehicles, particularly if they are set at a level substantially below that at which the majority of drivers would choose to drive. Therefore, lower speed limits do not necessarily result in lower speeds. To effect this, the character of the road needs to be altered. Measures other than signing are required if speeds are to be reduced to a level where drivers understand and accept the need for the limit. Police enforcement can then target those irresponsible drivers.
- "Driving over 50 mph banned from tonight". The Times. 1973-12-07. p. 4.
- "Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Ninth Report - Introduction". Parliament.
The problem is that: "Most drivers and pedestrians think speeds are generally too high but 95 per cent of all drivers admit to exceeding speed limits
- DfT Circular 01/2006: Setting Local Speed Limits (PDF) (Report). Department for Transport. 2006-08-08. Retrieved 2010-10-31.
Indeed, if a speed limit is set in isolation, or is unrealistically low, it is likely to be ineffective and lead to disrespect for the speed limit. As well as requiring significant, and avoidable, enforcement costs, this may also result in substantial numbers of drivers continuing to travel at unacceptable speeds, thus increasing the risk of collisions and injuries.
- DfT Circular 01/2006 Setting Local Speed Limits (PDF) (Report). Department for Transport. Retrieved 2010-11-07.
- TRL363 Urban speed management methods (PDF) (Report). 1998.
- "Written Answers to Questions: Road Accidents". Hansard. House of Commons. 2003-01-31. Retrieved 2010-04-23.
TRL research on urban speed management methods published in 1998 (TRL Report 363) found only an average 1 mph drop in speeds and no discernible accident reduction in accidents in 20 mph limits using only signs. Advisory speed limits are not normally approved in England and Wales. However, the more successful 20 mph zones that use self enforcing traffic calming features achieved average speed reductions of around 10 mph which produced a 70% reduction in child pedestrian accidents and a 48% reduction in child cyclist accidents.
- Atkins (2010-09-16). Interim Evaluation of the Implementation of 20 mph Speed Limits in Portsmouth: Final Report (PDF) (Report). Department for Transport.
- "20 mph speed limits and zones - Traffic Advisory Leaflet 9/99" (PDF). Department for Transport.
- "Memorandum by Kingston upon Hull City Council (RTS 152)". Parliament.
- "London Road Safety Unit: Safety Research Report No. 2 - Review of 20 mph Zones in London Boroughs" (PDF).
allowing for background changes in KSI casualty frequencies, the installation of 20 mph zones has reduced the frequency of road user casualties within the zones by about 45% and reduced the frequency of fatal or serious (KSI) casualties by about 57%.
- "2.16". Local Transport Note 1/11: Shared Space (PDF) (Report). Department for Transport. October 2011. p. 14. Retrieved 7 February 2012.
- "M6 Radar Shows Faster Family Driving". The Times. 1967-04-27. p. 6.
- "Effectiveness of speed cameras in preventing road traffic collisions and related casualties". BMJ.
However, owing to the highly controversial nature of the debate about speed cameras in high income countries, we would expect any published negative studies to be highly publicised.
- "Speed Cameras". Icons of England.
Speed cameras are highly controversial and attacks on them regularly make the news.
- "Annex 6 TECHNOLOGY FOR ENFORCEMENT".
A notable example is in the Nottingham Safety Camera Pilot where virtually complete compliance was achieved on the major ring road into the city
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Across all Nottinghamshire SPECS installations, KSI figures have fallen by an average of 65%
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shall precede by at least twenty yards the locomotive on foot
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Meanwhile British Motor Syndicate began a public relations campaign to lobby for the repeal of the “Highways and Locomotive Act”, still the main obstacle to the introduction of the car in Britain
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It is sufficient to say that the reason why the speed limit was abolished was not that anybody thought the abolition would tend to the greater security of foot passengers, but that the existing speed limit was so universally disobeyed that its maintenance brought the law into contempt
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My Lords, the Motion that stands in my name is directed to secure that motor vehicles that are now under statutory restriction as to the pace at which they are permitted to travel should be compelled to carry a trustworthy speedometer so that the driver of the vehicle may know when he is exceeding the limit.
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- Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, part IV: Speed Limits; accessed 2011-02-12.
- A road's speed limit is 30 mph (48 km/h) if the road's street lights are "[not placed] more than 200 yards apart" in England and Wales or "not more than 185 metres" in Scotland; a local authority can choose whether or not a 'restricted road' remains as such (for a road within the aforementioned street lighting requirements)—cf. Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, section 82: What roads are restricted roads.
- Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, section 89: Speeding offences generally; accessed 2011-02-12.
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- Gray, Sadie (2009-03-09). "Rural speed limits may be reduced to 50mph". The Independent. London.
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