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Top 10: Tips for staying within the speed limit

It's all too easy to unintentionally creep above the speed limit - it's something we've all been guilty of doing. The fact modern cars are so refined and comfortable mean they give drivers little sensation of their speed. But it only takes a split second for something unexpected to happen. on those occasions a few miles per hour can make all the difference - literally - between life and death. So here are in association with RoSPA are ten tips to help you stay within the limit.

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Know your limits...

Plenty of drivers who have been caught speeding, complain that they thought the road had a higher speed limit - the classic 'I thought it was 40mph not a 30mph'. But ultimately you as the driver need to know the speed limit of the roads you are using.

In many cases, the nature of the road does not indicate the speed limit. In urban areas, for example, dual carriageways can have limits of 30mph, 40mph, 50mph, 60mph or 70mph. Don't just assume a speed limit.

But if you are not sure, assume the limit is lower until you see a sign. Better that than risking a speeding ticket.


Engineer Andy    on 20 November 2016

Why not use (if its available) a sat nav's (or phone sat nav app) function to warn you if you exceed the speed limit?

My Nokia Windows phone's 'Here Maps' app (free on Windows phones, one of the few apps that's good compared to iOS/Android - I find it better/less obtrausive than Google Maps) beeps a warning when I'm over by just 1-2mph for over a few seconds - very handy when you're having to concentrate on the road on not your speedo as one of the RoSPA tips say, which I think can be very dangerous as it takes you eyes off the road.

I'd rather see a pedestrian/cyclist and have the time to avoid them but going at a few mph over the limit when I need my eyes on the road than hit them because I took my eyes off the road frequently to check speed. My tip is to check your speed WHEN you feel its safe to do so, not just at arbitrary 'regular' intervals, which in some circumstances might be limited. I'd rather have 3pts on my licence for doing 33 in a 30 zone than a seriously injured/dead pedestrian/cyclist etc because I was looking at the speedo to stay below 30mph.

John Carter    on 21 November 2016

Why not install warning signs, say 300m beforehand, for a speed limit ahead as they do in other countries?

otter valley    on 21 November 2016

Hello Andy,

I will have to look into that Here Maps app you mention. I use Orange ee system on a pay as you go phone made by Alcatel.

Thanks for the tip anyway.


   on 21 November 2016

If your car has one, why not engage the speed limiter when you pass a speed limit sign. The technology will then prevent you from inadvertently exceeding the limit.

   on 21 November 2016

BMW Don't even show any thing to do with speed on there UK models unless you wish to add the package

Brittany M    on 21 November 2016

I'm surprised Cruise Control hasn't been mentioned. I use it as often as possible with the added avantage of keeping my foot just touching, but not pressing, the brake pedal. It was an IAM tip when I did the course and qualified many years ago, and reduces slightly the reaction plus application time, it's helped save me and the "victim" several times.

I also use a Garmin Sat-Nav all the time even when I know the route, it sounds a warning when over the limit, but it's important to still observe signs as speed limits can change. Use it to calibrate your speedo on a straight level open road with no signal obstructions, mine is consistently 3mph slow at all speeds.

I must also endorse that speed limits are not targets and speed should be adjusted to suit driving conditions, and recommend the IAM and it's courses, there are lots of tips to make your driving safer, save fuel and wear and tear on your vehicle whist maintaining good progress on your journey.

Dave Nothard    on 21 November 2016

Cruise Control is available on a surprising number of cars, e.g. my 2008 VW Golf;
I know my daughter always sets the cruise control on her modern Golf, for all the demands of speed limits like average speed sections of road, not just 30mph zones. That way you have no excuse for exceeding a limit and don't have to keep checking the speedo.

Howard the Careful Driver    on 21 November 2016

I think 'assume it's lower' is the best as map speed limit guides may not be up-to-date and it's the ones that have been recently changed that can catch you out. The 30/40 is the biggest potential one, but I've avoided inadvertently speeding a couple of times by assuming it was 30; the higher limits should be more obvious.

soldierboy000    on 21 November 2016

I agree that a lot of speed limits on satnavs are incorrect and this is because the mapping agencies are not updating often enough. On the AP7 here in Spain there is a stretch that varies for several miles between 100kph and 120kph a few times but my satnav has them in the wrong order, so being alert is a must.

Like others have suggested I use my speed limiter on my Dacia Lodgy all the time as the appropriate sign tells me.

Speed traps over here as just as devious as thet are in the UK, Anyone travelling in Spain take note when as sign tells you speed cameras for your safety, there will always be one within the next few kilometers, usually on the back of the overhead signtelling you so but not always.

terryw    on 21 November 2016

Brittany, do you actually mean your speedo reads 30 when you are doing 33? That's what your comment implies:

"Use it to calibrate your speedo on a straight level open road with no signal obstructions, mine is consistently 3mph slow at all speeds."

If so you have to get it fixed, it is an offence to drive with a speedometer that shows any speed below your actual speed (but it can show up to 10% above).

Typically the satnav speed is a few percent lower than the speedo for this reason.

bobvfr    on 21 November 2016

On some roads, the speed limit varies several times in a few miles, e.g. the A51 north of Stone. It would be helpful if the signs that showed a change in limit were conspicuously different from the repeater signs, perhaps with a coloured border. This road changes from 40 to 50 and 60mph and back all on dual carriageway.

sixcylinder    on 22 November 2016

Exceeding the speed limit is attributable to about 4% of all accidents in the UK and 1309 KSI injuries (KSI=Killed and seriously injured).

Exceeding the speed limit is a relatively insignificant contribution to all classes of accidents compared to the worse culprit for both KSI and total injuries, and that is "Driver failed to look properly".

42% of all reported accidents were attributable to the driver failing to look properly!

In KSI accidents, exceeding the speed limit accounted for 1309 cases, failing to look properly accounts for 6150.

All the above data is from Department of Transport Statistics 2013

Therefore, exceeding the speed limit is a long way from being the most significant reason for deaths and injuries in the UK. That is not to say we should not make an effort to reduce them but in a real world where problems need to be tackled surely the one that's causing the worse carnage, namely "Failing to look properly", is the one to go for first and that is not "exceeding the speed limit",because it is about one tenth of the most serious.

However in the real world you can't collect fines from cameras trying to detect "failing to look properly", so nothing will change because we can measure speed but we can't measure "not looking".

rob thailand    on 22 November 2016

I also used cruise control to stay within the speed limits (plus 10%) but an inexperienced driver might end up in trouble doing this. Also beware of C control in the wet as when hitting a deep puddle the driving wheel might spin out of control - happened to me once and it was quite a shock.

dai jenkins    on 22 November 2016

listen to "classic FM" ON 100.5, it's difficult to put your foot down when listening to slow, soothing music !!

   on 24 November 2016

Problem with relying on sat nav/gps for speed limits is they are not always correct, even if you have the latest updates. I use a BMW motoradd sat nav for my GS1200 and cover 20k a year around UK and Europe and 20k in my car in UK. (With regular software updates etc).
General rule for me is if there are lamp posts in an urban area then 30mph, I always look at lowest mph scenario unless signage says otherwise. Riding in Europe with a BMW Motoradd GPS is terrible, speed limits are not accurate in urban areas at all.
Agree that cruise control helps with driving efficiently within the act.
On a childish/reckless note, I find I am at my most alert state of mind when being speedy on motorways, (not an option for me elsewhere btw) rather than relaxed and sleepy at the acts preferred level. Equally, rode home from Munich recently and had no desire to max out at top speed, but comfortable at 80-90mph (autobahn).
I have had 2 speeding tickets, 1 the day before I got married, delamere forest, Cheshire by a police officer hiding on the end of a hedgerow in a farmers field, 45 in a 40 and the other on m6 toll in the early hours
, police officer very lenient with £60 and 3 points.
I have written a company can off on m6 near charnock Richards services in what can only be described as changeable weather, one moment it is dry the next moment the motorway is loaded with hale stone, I bounce off concrete central reserve like a pin ball and come to rest in hard shoulder arnco, being 5am on Saturday I didn't hit anyone, a hgv driver kindly stopped and witnessed the event.
For me I find I have changed from an inexperienced high speed motorway driver to a more experienced/ alert high speed motorway driver. You can change attitude but not personality however I always consider consequences and think how I would like tyou be treated when out on the road (with respect)
I enjoy long journeys as it trains me for my real passion and conditions my mind but being respectful to other road users a valuable tip I have learnt is to be prepared every time I step into or onto my preferred method of transport and to take a regular coffee stop at least every two hours. In Europe i now leave the motorway and explore the local villages and towns for coffee, it takes my mind away from menotomy and see and meet excellent people. :-D

Mike Martin    on 30 November 2016

Fully agree that an eyes-glued-to-the-speedo driving technique is probably the most dangerous trait encouraged by the current speed-monitoring as a way of taxing motorists regime. I argued this point with the local Road Safety Partnership when I was caught over the 30 limit near my own home many years ago, and asked them to give me the benefit of their advanced motoring training so I could avoid a similar occurrence in the future-especially on this specific location where it involves a change of speed limit ( 60-30), a downhill bend, parked vehicles either side of the road-and large delivery vehicles frequently coming uphill in the centre of the road. The unhelpful reply was straight out of the highway code/ monitoring instruments rule-book, with no cogniscence of the need to actually look at the road. By then I had discovered a device I could fit to my car's speedo cable which flashes a blue LED above 30mph ( one pulse per 10mph), accompanied by an audible beep-again one per 10mph increment. A simple multi-push button control on the dash can disable sound if required, as well as permittting a fixed speed setting which warns ( audibly & visually) when approaching that set speed, and changes to a constant tone when it is reached-VERY useful for average speed sections of road including motorway roadworks. I passed on the details of the manufacturer to the Road Safety Partnership, as well as my observations regarding its effectiveness in use. Absolutely no response whatsoever! Confirming my prejudice that these partnerships have little to do with road safety, and much to do with cash-collection.
Since then I have fitted this device to each of our subsequent cars, and both our current vehicles have them fitted. The device is named ( aptly) Speed Angel, manufactured by NCS Systems Ltd..www.ncs-systems.com/car-electronics.html.
Sadly-although the last time I required another device they still had some stocks available-they no longer actively market it because of lack of interest from the motoring public! It is a genuinely simple, accurate and effective tool that ALL vehicles should be fitted with as standard.

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