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Speed Limits

Speed - it makes a difference

We live in an increasingly high speed world. We're used to things happening quickly, and we can become frustrated when they don't. Speed can be a good thing and a bad thing. It's really important to remember that behind the wheel, you are responsible for controlling your own speed.


For example, the road safety charity Brake estimates that for every 1mph reduction in average speeds, crash rates fall by 5% on average.


And because professional drivers are behind the wheel for the majority of their working day, statistically they are more at risk of being involved in a road accident – or being the cause of one. Over 1,700 people were killed on roads in the UK in 2014. That works out at nearly 5 people every day.


Know your limits

Whilst there really is no such thing as a totally safe speed, by cutting speed, driving defensively and observing speed limits we can all play a part in reducing road casualties. Of course, when it comes to speed limits, we all think we know them. Or do we?


For instance, some people are still not aware of the changes to speed limits for goods vehicles in England and Wales in 2015 (see table below) or that the changes do not apply in Scotland and Northern Ireland.



Vans with a maximum laden weight (Gross Vehicle Weight) of over 2 tonnes (2,000 kg) are restricted to lower speed limits on single carriageways and dual carriageways. Vans with a maximum laden weight (Gross Vehicle Weight) of over 7.5 tonnes (7,500 kg) are also restricted to lower speed limits on motorways.


Below are some examples of the speed limits applying to vehicles of differing weights. However, drivers should check the Gross Vehicle Weight and ‘plated’ weight of their van/goods vehicle to ensure that they are aware of which speed limits apply.















Speed limiters

With effect from 1 January 2008, goods vehicles registered since 2005 and many older vehicles, are required to be fitted with speed limiters. This is in addition to those that have been fitted with speed limiters for some years, such as goods vehicles used for international work. Some older goods vehicles remain unaffected by the change. Regardless of the legal speed limit, many limiters are set at 56mph to help fuel efficiency.


Speed: some key information


  • Accident statistics show that if you are hit by a car at 40mph, you are 90% likely to be killed. At 20mph you have a 90% chance of survival.
  • Never rush. Ring ahead if you’re late – and take it easy.
  • Drivers should be aware that the braking distances and handling characteristics of all vehicles vary considerably depending on your load and your speed. Your driving style should be adapted accordingly.
  • Obey speed limits and check your speedo often. In a Brake/Direct Line survey in 2014, 57% of drivers admitted to speeding.
  • Don’t always drive to the limit. For instance, on some derestricted country roads, the 60mph limit may be too high for safety.
  • Drive smart. Aggressive driving on urban roads and in built up areas rarely saves much journey time. Smoother driviving will save fuel and could save someone’s life.


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