The Importance of Speed Limits


Driving is more than just a means of transportation, for many drivers across the UK it’s also a rather enjoyable experience. However, it’s important to remember that the roads are not a racetrack. Whilst driving above the speed limit may seem like the most enjoyable way of getting from A to B faster, speed limits are there for a reason, they play a massive role in road safety.

Why Do We Have Speed Limits?

The first and most obvious reason we have speed limits on the UK roads is to provide drivers an appropriate maximum speed at which it is safe to travel in clear conditions. The speed limit set will take into account things such as the type of road and the frequency of hazards on that road.

Another reason for speed limits is so that drivers who travel at dangerously high speeds, posing a risk to other road users, as well as themselves and any passengers that they may be carrying, can be fined and or prosecuted.

What is the Speed Limit on UK Roads?

Speed limits on UK roads vary as described above. However, the general speed limit for urban roads is usually 30mph, unless otherwise stated. The presence of speed bumps in built-up areas, such as around schools, usually indicate a 20mph limit. For single carriageways the national speed limit is 60mph, unless you are towing a caravan/trailer or your vehicle weighs over 3.05 tonnes, then the limit is 50mph. For dual carriageways and motorways the speed limit is 70mph, unless you are towing a caravan/trailer or your vehicle weighs over 3.05 tonnes, then the limit is 60mph. Goods vehicles carrying over 7.5 tonnes will usually have further restrictions.

Considering Speed Limits for Road Safety

Road signs are the primary way of communicating the speed limit of a road to its drivers, especially where this may change from one part of the road to the next. The most effective speed limit signings are: uniformed, consistent, simple, relevant and legible.

If compliance with the speed limit is poor in a certain area or on a certain road, other measures may be introduced additional measures such as enhanced traffic enforcement, speed cameras, or other traffic calming measures that physically restrict the speed at which it is possible (or comfortable) to drive the road, such as speed bumps.

Even a small change to the speed that you are driving can lead to large and measurable changes in risk. A 5% increase in speed typically leads to an increase in injury crashes of 10% and an increase in fatal crashes of 20%.

Remember: Speed limits are the absolute maximum that it is safe to drive on that road. Speed limits do not imply it is safe to drive at that speed on that road in all conditions.
The Importance of Speed Limits The Importance of Speed Limits Reviewed by Hayley Reeve on Thursday, January 25, 2018 Rating: 5

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