Don’t be fast or furious on the roads this summer

This week's motoring tips from the IAM's head of driving standards, Peter Rodger, are looking at the different speed limits applied to the type of vehicle you are driving, or the type of road you are driving on.

Many drivers fail to stay within the speed limit and will often end up being fined or prosecuted.  Avoid a speeding ticket by following our latest hints – remember speed limits are a maximum, not a target.

  • In a built up area with street lighting, the speed limit is 30mph – unless stated otherwise. A 30mph speed limit may not be denoted by a traffic sign, so keep an eye out for street lighting. Whatever you do, don't assume it's more than 30mph unless it tells you otherwise.

  • A 20mph speed limit will always be shown by a traffic sign and often backed up by road markings. They are usually found in residential areas, busy town centres, and near schools. Keep an eye out for the signs.

  • On the motorways electronic speed limit signs may be displayed as either advisory or mandatory instructions. For example, if you see a rectangular speed number with flashing amber lights you are advised to travel within the recommended speed. However, where the speed limit is contained inside a red ring you must not exceed the speed shown and can be prosecuted for breaking that limit.

  • If you are driving a van beware that the speed limits will vary depending on the road you are on, the weight and the design of your vehicle. For example, in a national speed limit area, vans may only be driven at 50mph on a single carriageway and up to 60mph on a dual carriageway. If you are driving on the motorway the national speed limit applies at 70mph. Vans adapted from standard car designs are subject to car limits and can go faster, but it is wise to check your registration documents if you are unsure if the vehicle is 'car derived' or 'commercial'.

  • Under new regulations across England and Wales the speed limits for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) over 7.5 tonnes have changed. If a truck is driven on a single carriageway the speed has increased from 40mph to 50mph, and on a dual carriageway it has increased from 50mph to 60mph. This does not apply in Scotland except on parts of the A9 route.

  • Car drivers must be aware that many commercial vehicles and buses have a speed restricting device fitted in their vehicles to effectively control these vehicles from speeding. Do not tailgate these vehicles in the hope that they will speed up – they should not be hurried along.

  • Be aware that cars towing trailers and caravans are subject to lower limits on a single carriageway (50mph), dual carriageways (60mph) and motorways (60mph). These limits also apply to vans pulling trailers. Be prepared to wait for a safe overtaking opportunity for longer vehicles.

    Peter said: "Drivers should recognise that limits are there for a reason – which are sometimes not easy to see. Speeding traffic is a frequent complaint of residents across the country. Make driving without breaking the limit something you do easily – and avoid the fines."


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