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Speed Limits

What car owners often fail to realize, is that driving to up to the recommended speed limits isn’t always safe. In reality driving a car requires you to continuously make decisions based on your environmental surroundings. Speed alone isn’t the only factor when it comes to driving safely!


Road Works –

Speed limits are often reduced when road works are being carried out. This is fairly obvious and so are the reasons behind it. It’s to protect both you the car driver and those carrying out the repair work. They are often required to work very close to passing traffic and their safety is extremely important. As to what the temporary limit is may vary, however it will be clearly displayed, sometimes by very large flashing signs.

Dual Carriageways –

There is often a bit of confusion surrounding this type of road, mainly because speed limits differ depending on the type of vehicle you’re driving. For cars and bikes the speed limit is 70mph, whereas for 7.5 ton lorries the speed limit is just 50mph. If you are towing any form of trailer then your speed must not exceed 60mph.

To be very clear, it doesn’t matter how many lanes the road has. What determines whether it’s a dual carriageway or not is that the road in either direction is separated by a central reservation. The amount of lanes present is irrelevant.

20mph Zone –

This speed limit is usually enforced in built up areas, such as outside schools or near busy pedestrian zones. The idea behind such a low limit is to accommodate cars, pedestrians and cyclists at the same time. It attempts to take into account vulnerable pedestrians such as small children and the elderly. Speed bumps are usually present and the 20mph signs should be clearly visible. A good example of this is seen in Ashford Town, where the pedestrians and cars actually share the same space. Overall, research shows that casualties can drop by up to 70% in these areas, clearly proving they do the intended job.

30mph Zone –

Like the 20mph zone, this speed limit is usually present in urban and built up areas. In recent years they have also been moved into small villages and are often accompanied by the presence of streetlights. In fact if streetlights are ever present it usually indicates a 30mph zone. If it isn’t, clear signs will be visible to indicate otherwise. Be aware that some villages or even small towns will only display the 30mph sign at the entrance to the zone. The continual presence of streetlights is your indication that the 30mph zone continues until otherwise stated.

40mph and 50mph Zones –

These two were introduced over 40 years ago. You will find them mainly in quieter, non-built up areas or where it’s generally safe to carry more speed. This is why 50mph zones exist in some small towns. Unlike 30mph zones however, authorities must show repeat signs reminding car drivers of the limit, not just when it starts.

National Speed Limit Zone –

This zone is indicated with a very familiar sign to all motorists. A white circle with a black stripe running diagonally through the middle, indicating the national speed limit zone has begun. For cars it means 70mph on dual carriageways and 60mph on single lane roads. They are most common in rural areas and like the 30mph zones, are only indicated when they both start and finish. It’s easy to know when you’re in a national speed limit zone as no signs will tell you otherwise, plus there will of course be no streetlights present. As for motorways, the speed limit is 70mph unless stated otherwise. Please note that motorway limits are forever changing depending on rush hour traffic, accidents and road works.