Recognising speed limits

Image of a 40mph sign and vehicles

The responsibility for introducing new speed limits lies with the relevant highways authority. For the roads in Nottinghamshire this is Nottinghamshire County Council and Nottingham City Council. For motorways and trunk roads (A1, A46, A52 and A453 ) this is the Highways Agency. The Department for Transport publishes guidance to local authorities on the setting of speed limit. Click here for a brief guide to these criteria.

Information on speed limits is available in the Highway Code or on the internet.
Click Here for The Highway Code website..>>
If you have a more specific query about a speed limit on a local road, then information can be obtained from the relevant highway authority.

The system of speed limits signing has changed very little over the years. Whenever there is a change of speed limit, either higher or lower, the new limit is denoted by the familiar round “terminal” signs showing the new limit or diagonal black stripe to say the road is subject to the National Speed Limit. If the speed limit is 30mph and the road has street lighting then there will be no further repeater signs. Other speed limits on lit roads will have repeater signs. We are frequently contacted by people saying, “The road has a 30mph speed limit, but there are no signs to remind drivers?” Well, it is likely that the road has a system of street lighting, in which case it is not legally possible to provide 30mph repeater signs or road markings. The lamp columns are effectively a reminder to drivers that a 30mph speed limit applies. There has to be consistency across the whole country because if 30mph repeaters were installed at some locations and not others, drivers caught speeding in roads without 30mph signs could claim that they were unaware of the speed limit.


If you are in doubt as to what the speed limit is on a particular section of road and you see no speed limit signs, then look to see if it has any street lighting. If is has - then it will always be subject to 30mph The fact that the road may have more than one traffic lane, doesn't look busy or isn't "built-up" is no indication that the speed limit is more than 30mph. (Does not apply to motorways, which have a national speed limit of 70mph*)



Remember, some classes of vehicle are restricted to maximum speeds that are lower than those applicable to other vehicle groups. These lower limits apply to goods vehicles of differing sizes and if a trailer is being towed. It is the driver's legal responsibility to keep to the speed limit applicable to his/her vehicle.
For a table of speed limits relevant to various types of vehicle please click here.
Speed Limits for all Vehicles on all Roads >>