Know Your Speed Limits

Know Your Speed Limits

Published on: 04/01/2021

The UK’s road network has a range of road categories with different widths, rules and speeds – so how can you ensure you’re abiding by the speed laws in each? Trust My Garage is here to help, so read on to learn more about speed limits across the UK.

How many speed limits are there?

Depending on the type of vehicle you’re driving, different speed limits are applicable. provides clear details on accepted speed limits depending on the type of road and vehicle you’re driving, which you can read here.

For cars, motorcycles, car-derived vans and dual-purpose vehicles, the limits are:

  • Built up areas – 30mph
  • Single carriageways – 60mph
  • Dual carriageways – 70mph
  • Motorways – 70mph

You can also encounter locally-set speed limits. These are limits set by local councils in certain areas, and will be clearly signposted. Examples of locally-set speed limits are:

  • 20 mph zone in a built-up area near a school
  • 50 mph (rather than 60 mph) limit on a stretch of road with sharp bends


How can I stay aware of speed limits?

There are basic rules to help remember which speed limits apply on which roads. As a default, in areas of street lighting (other than on motorways) a 30mph limit applies unless another limit is specifically signed.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has released a guide for all road users called “Know Your Traffic Signs”. Pages 20-21 of the guide provide clear, simple information detailing all the speed limit signs on the road network, as well as details on all other traffic signs that can affect motorists. Read it here.

How are speed limits monitored?

Speed limits are monitored by speed cameras, of which there are several varieties. Some of these cameras are in fixed locations, some work out an average of a vehicle’s travel speed between two camera points and some are handheld, operated by members of normal or traffic police forces.

The most common type of speed camera in the UK is the yellow Gatsometer unit, commonly known as the “Gatso” camera. These cameras were introduced in 1991, and operate as rear-facing cameras. This means the camera unit faces up the road and takes a picture of the rear of a speeding vehicle, so it can catch motorcycles as well as cars, vans and trucks.

How many speed cameras are there on the UK’s roads?

According to Speed Camera Database, there are currently 4016 Gatso camera units operational in Great Britain.

Speed cameras are spread across the country, and according to Highways England’s response to an October 2020 Freedom of Information (FOI) request, on smart motorways alone there are 168 fixed speed cameras.

On smart motorways in 2010 there were 49 fixed cameras, and in 2015 there were 105, but according to the FOI a breakdown of their distribution is not available. However, Highways England note: “Primarily, the smart motorway network was the M25, M1 and M42.”

Speed cameras on smart motorways are also being utilised for other traffic offences; in the FOI, Highways England stated: “Currently, we are upgrading all our cameras to also record drivers that do not comply with a ‘Red X’, to indicate a closed lane.”


What happens if I’m caught speeding?

According to, if you are caught by a speed camera committing an offence the following will happen:

Within 14 days of your car being caught speeding you’ll be sent a:

  • Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP)
  • Section 172 notice

You must return the Section 172 notice within 28 days, telling the police who was driving the car. After you’ve sent the Section 172 notice back, you’ll be sent either a:

  • Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN)
  • letter telling you to go to court

If you get an FPN you can choose to plead guilty or not guilty. If you plead guilty, you’ll have to pay a £100 fine and have 3 points added to your licence, unless you’re given the option to attend a speed awareness course. As well as this, your driving licence will have a code on it for 4 years.

You may be given the option of attending a speed awareness course if:

  • the police decide it’s appropriate for your offence
  • you have not been on a speed awareness course in the past 3 years

You’ll have to go to court if you plead not guilty.

You can be fined more and get more penalty points if the court decides you’re guilty of speeding.

The amount you’re fined depends on what the speed limit was and how much over it you were driving. It’s usually a percentage of your weekly income, up to a maximum of £1,000 (£2,500 if you were driving on a motorway).

You could also be disqualified from driving or have your licence suspended.

Penalties can affect new drivers more severely as well; if you’re still within 2 years of passing your driving test, your driving licence will be revoked (withdrawn) if you build up 6 or more penalty points.

Staying safe on the road

As well as speeding fine penalties for motorists breaking the law, DVSA have also published “The top 10 prohibition defects as a percentage of all cars inspected at roadside”.

With a total of 38,712 serious defects and traffic offences in 2019, and the most common defect being the condition of a vehicle’s tyres, it’s important to ensure you and your vehicle don’t get caught out by any defect risks. If you’re looking to stay safe and motor happy, you can contact your local Trust My Garage Member garage for your servicing, repair and MOT needs.

Why use Trust My Garage?

Trust My Garage is a collection of Britain’s trusted local garages – each one different and all dedicated to the highest standards of skill and personal service.

Every garage in Trust My Garage are members of the Independent Garage Association, which is part of the RMI, one of Britain’s oldest motor trade organisations. IGA members are true professionals who have to comply with a strict code of practice.

Each and every customer of all Trust My Garage members can rely on using a nationally recognised brand to help you and your vehicle get the best value service for you and your vehicle.

If you’re looking for more information about Trust My Garage, you can head over to our website, We’re also on social media, so check out our Facebook and Twitter profiles to get the latest motoring news and updates straight into your social feeds!

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