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Speed Limit Signs

By: Simon McBride - Updated: 28 Feb 2015 | comments*Discuss
Speed Limit Signs

Taking heed of Signage is a very important part of driving and one of the most important sets of signs on our roads are the speed limit signs. These have many variables and depend where they are placed so care and remembering where you are is a good way of obeying speed limit signs. If you don’t obey these road signs you can receive penalty points and a fine or worse from the authorities. You must not exceed speed limits or you can be prosecuted.

Speed Limit Signs are the Maximum Speed you Can Drive At

Speed limit signs are there to tell motorists the absolute maximum that they can drive through a particular area in. This does not mean that you have to drive at this speed irrespective of conditions. If conditions are anything but dry and clear then drivers should take into account what stopping time they would need and reduce their speed accordingly.

It is wise to reduce speed when:

  • When the road layout changes - such as bends, hazards on the road or when conditions change.
  • When coming up behind pedestrians, cyclists, horse-riders and motorcyclists.
  • When driving in adverse weather conditions.
  • When driving at night your visibility is not as good as in the daylight.

Tip To Remember

If you are driving and there are street-lights lining both sides of the road this usually means that you are driving in a 30mph zone unless specified.

Spotting Speed limit Signs

Speed limits signs usually have a red circle, which means the law prohibits you to go above the stated speed. If there is also a text plate below the numerical sign then it is to make sure the driver’s attention is attracted to the required speed limit of that area.

The signs to look out for are:

  • 20mph: A circular sign with a red circle, normally found in urban areas – in Scotland this will also have a text box below and it will say “Twenty’s Plenty.”
  • 30mph: A circular sign with a red circle found in urban areas.
  • 40mph: A circular sign with a red circle found in less built up areas.
  • National Speed Limit: This sign is a white circle with a black diagonal stripe through the middle of the sign. This signifies that you may now travel at a speed of up to a maximum 60mph on an outer urban road or up to a speed of 70 mph when on a Dual Carriageway or Motorway.
  • Roadwork’s Speed Limit: This can vary but the sign will have a yellow background with a red circular sign and the speed limit on it. A triangular sign signifies the end of a speed restriction at a roadwork’s. The picture usually has a man with a shovel and END in text on it.
  • Dual Carriageway Speed Limit: There is a common misconception that the speed limit is 60mph on a Dual Carriageway but this is not the case unless specified. The national speed limit for a car on a dual carriageway with a central reservation is 70mph and is signified by the National Speed Limit sign.
  • Motorway Speed Limit: Just like a Dual carriageway the speed limit is 70mph unless specified and is signified by a National Speed Limit sign. If the speed limit is reduced on a motorway the overhead gantries will show you the maximum speed that you are legally allowed to drive at. The change to the speed limit may be down to adverse weather or maybe an incident ahead but all drivers must obey them or you could be prosecuted for breaking the law.

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@Big Gee. If you are upset at the way your were treated or feel that you were wrongly stopped, then contact the Independent Police Complaints Commission for advice.
TrafficSignsAndMeanings - 4-Mar-15 @ 12:51 PM
i was puled up by the police today, when he came to my car he asked if i was ok as i was driving very slow,i said i was going at the correct speed for that part of the road he said i was going 29 mph i said yes it was a 30 mph area he said the limmit was 50 i said 30 he told me not to argue withe him as there were no 30 signs on that road i was cross an raised my voice at him and i got a lecture from him he then told me to get into his van there he told me to calm down or he would give me a ticket for driving at am inappropriate speed when i said we should go back and i would show him the sign he said i dont tell him what to do by this time i was very frustrated and he reduced me to tears by the way i am 69 at this point he said i had to follow him back the sign said what i said he said that sign was just an advisory sign and i was the only one totake notice of it he said he had the right to stop me as i could have caused an accident. he said when you get older tings are not as clear. i then was allowed to go i am stil upset about being patronized and humiliated
big gee - 28-Feb-15 @ 7:47 PM
@pp and Alan Ross. You could try claiming that the sign was too small or obscured etc especially as the speed limit has recently been changed. I read somewhere that the entry to a 30mph zone had to be marked clearly on both sides of the road. So maybe you should check that one out?
lizzydripping - 17-Sep-14 @ 1:46 PM
Hi I was caught out in a similar situation. Did you have any useful replies.
Pp - 15-Sep-14 @ 8:30 PM
I got caught lately on a road that used to be 40 but has lately been changed to30mph . There is only one sign at where the road used to be 40mph and it is on the right hand side I was watching a car turn left and missed it there are smaller signs around the corner but by the time I saw them it was to late. Is it leagle to only have the one large sign.
Alan Ross - 10-Aug-14 @ 3:00 PM
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