Know Your Limit!

1 October 2010, 00:00

More than 450 commercial vehicle drivers faced prosecution last year for speeding. Yet according to the Kent & Medway Safety Camera Partnership, many could avoid being fined if they knew the law when it comes to national speed limits.

Most of these offences occurred in a 60mph or 70mph national speed limit zone but some drivers are getting caught out simply because they don’t realise that the national speed limit varies depending on the type of road you are travelling on and the type of vehicle you are driving.

Katherine Barrett, Communications Officer for the Partnership, says many people who end up with speeding tickets genuinely believe they were driving within the limit.

“We’ve had calls from van drivers complaining that they have been harshly treated because they have been fined for travelling at 71mph in a 70mph zone,” she says. “They are usually very surprised when they discover that the speed limit for their type of vehicle on that particular road is actually 60mph.”

Chief Inspector Andy Reeves, Head of Kent Police’s Roads Policing Unit, adds: “Many people are not fully aware of the different speed limits that apply to different vehicles in a national speed limit zone, especially the limits for larger vehicles.

 “The fact is that the majority of vans, vehicles towing trailers and all goods vehicles that exceed 7.5 tonnes are subject to lower national speed limits than cars, on both single carriageway and dual carriageway roads. So while it’s OK for a car to travel up to 60mph on single carriageways and 70mph on dual carriageways, vans are only allowed to travel up to 50mph and 60mph respectively.

“Car-derived vans have the same speed limit as cars and motorcycles. However, drivers should be aware that very few vans meet the criteria to be considered as car-derived. To be considered a car-derived van, the vehicle must be derived from a car chassis and also have a maximum laden weight of no more than two tonnes.”

Drivers also fall foul of the law because they are unsure about what constitutes a single carriageway and a dual carriageway, says Felicity Drewett of the Highways Agency.

“There is often some confusion about what a dual carriageway actually is, especially for those vehicles restricted to speed limits below that for cars, such as HGVs, coaches and vehicles towing trailers.

“In short, a dual carriageway is a road that is separated by a central reservation. Usually it has two or more lanes in each direction but not always – it’s the presence of a central reservation that determines whether or not it’s a dual carriageway. A central reservation is anything other than a pedestrian refuge that separates vehicles going in one direction from those going in the other direction.”

Motorists who are unclear about national speed limits can find out more here

“Ignorance about the law is costing drivers unnecessarily,” says Katherine Barrett. “We just want to raise awareness of what the national speed limits are to help people avoid getting a speeding ticket and a fine. If anyone is in any doubt as to the limits that apply to their vehicle, they should check their registration documents and visit the Partnership’s website.”

For a free windscreen sticker showing speed limit restrictions for vehicles under or over 7.5 tonnes, or a free pocket-sized card showing the different speed limits for all vehicles, please email

National Speed limits