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Some people champion them and want them reduced, while others hate them and would like to see them significantly increased. Of course, we're talking about speed limits here. Regardless of which camp we fall into, we can't ignore speed limits. At least we can't if we want to keep our driving license that is. Despite the fact the signage for speed limits is clearer and easier to understand than just about any other road signs we have these days, there are still plenty of drivers who are not entirely sure what the limit is where they are or why the limit is set where it is in a particular area. If you're driving in a rural area especially, it really does pay to know what kind of road you're on and what the limit is likely to be as signs can be a little thin on the ground at times. So, here's a comprehensive guide to the most common speed limits on UK roads.
20 MPH Speed Limit
Although you will see signs in some private areas like industrial estates that are as low as 5 mph, the 20 mph limit is currently the lowest limit on public roads. The 20 mph limit is deployed in streets and residential areas where there is a high density of pedestrians and cyclists, such as close to schools etc. This limit isn't anywhere near as prevalent as the 30 mph limit, but it's likely to become more and more common in the future. It might seem very low, but if you've ever seen a car driving down a narrow residential street at 30 mph when that limit is applicable, it's easy to see why 20 mph is becoming increasingly popular with residents.
30 MPH Speed Limit
Most residential areas still have 30 mph as the speed limit, so it's likely to be the limit you'll need to adhere to when driving in villages, towns and cities. Roads in almost every urban area of the UK will have a 30 mph limit unless signs state otherwise. A good rule of thumb is usually that if there's street lighting present, the speed limit will be 30 mph in that area.
40 MPH Speed Limit
Roads immediately surrounding town and cities often employ a 40 mph speed limit, and some villages also allow driving up to this limit. Although 40 mph areas can have street lighting like 30 mph areas, if the limit is 40 and not 30, it will be clearly signed with regular, smaller repeater signs to make sure drivers are properly aware. The 40 mph limit is also used on open country roads where you may expect the limit to be higher, but the lower limit has been introduced due to a high number of accidents occurring in that locality.
60 MPH Speed Limit
The 60 mph speed limit is also sometimes known as the National Speed Limit, and it's the limit for open roads where there is no sign telling drivers otherwise. Unlike the red circle signs with speed limit written in black on a white background, the sign for the national Speed Limit is a white circle with a black diagonal stripe across it. However, the National Speed Limit can also be 70 mph, depending on the type of road.
70 MPH Speed Limit
The UK motorway speed limit is currently 70 mph, and the aforementioned National Speed Limit black and white sign is used to denote it. UK dual carriageways also have 70 mph as the speed limit, although there are certain circumstances where reduced speed limits are enforced, but these will always be clearly signed.
There are plenty of good arguments for why limits should be higher than they are in some places and lower than they currently are in others. For example, the old stopping distances that drivers used to have to learn for their driving tests are now so outdated thanks to advances in vehicle technology. However, it can also be amazing that we're allowed to drive at anywhere near 40 mph in some fairly urban areas. Regardless though; exceeding the limit by even a few miles per hour can mean an unwelcome fine and points on your license, so it's always wise to make sure you know the limits and stick to them.
21 March 2017