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Speed Limits and Speeding

By: Sally Aquire - Updated: 6 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Speed Limits Motorists Speeding Speeding

Sticking to speed limits is not just a key characteristic of safe driving and traffic safety; it is also a legal requirement for motorists. If you are flashed by a speed camera while exceeding the maximum speed limit, you will be given a speeding ticket, fined and given penalty points on your driving license, as well as potentially being summoned to court. See our article on 'Speed Cameras and Parking Tickets' for more details on what happens if you are caught speeding.

Know the Speed Limit

It sounds like a no-brainer, but many motorists fail to stick to the speed limit. In some cases, they are not even aware of what the speed limit actually is, as they are not paying enough attention to road signs and markings.

Being a safe motorist involves more than simply staying below the maximum speed limit - it will often not be practical or safe to stay on or around the maximum speed limit. As with many aspects of driving, common sense needs to be employed.

Street Lighting

Unless otherwise specified, a 30 mph speed limit is necessary in areas that are lit by street lamps.

Residential Areas

Many built-up residential areas have a 20 mph speed limit to help motorists see potential hazards (such as pedestrians, children playing, parked cars and cyclists) more easily. Even if a speed limit is not in place, for safety purposes, you should drive slowly and carefully through urban areas.


The maximum speed limit on motorways is around 70 mph. There may be lower speed limits in place if there are roadworks, or if an accident means that one or more lanes have been closed off. If this is the case, it will be indicated by a road sign or overhead lane marking. It is vital that you stick to this, as temporary speed limits are introduced for safety reasons.

Some motorways change the maximum speed limit to try to improve the flow of traffic on the motorway. This is usually indicated by mandatory motorway signals, which show the current maximum speed limit in a red ring.


There will often be temporary speed limits in place to keep speed to a minimum. There may also be temporary traffic lights to allow one lane of traffic through at any one time. Keep to the speed limit at all times, and be prepared for slow-moving or stationary vehicles in front of you.

Minimum Speed Limits

In some areas, minimum speed limits may be in operation. They are indicated by a blue circular road sign (with no border). The end of this minimum speed limit is shown by the same sign, but with a diagonal red line running through it.

Speeding Tickets

If you get a speeding ticket, you need to return the Notice of Intended Prosecution within 28 days with details of who was driving the vehicle (if it was not you). You will then receive a conditional offer of fixed penalty, which carries a fine and penalty points. See our article on 'Speed Cameras and Parking Tickets' for more.

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