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What to do when… you’re learning about UK road speed limits

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. Gov.uk 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:

Smart MotorwayCameras
M147
M2534
M624
M6211
M427
M510
M6010
M312
M204
M237
M42
TOTAL168

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 Gov.uk, 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, TrustMyGarage.co.uk. 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!

Keep your vehicle safe and roadworthy with Trust My Garage

Rising road traffic volumes across the UK has the potential to lead to increased chances of an accident – but how can you keep yourself and your passengers safe and your vehicle roadworthy? Find out with Trust My Garage!

According to Department for Transport (DfT) statistics, in 2019 car traffic hit the highest-ever figure of vehicle miles driven  – 278.2 billion miles! Add into this recent updates on how people use public transport due to the impact of coronavirus, and it’s easy to see why mileage is at an all-time high.

With an increased number of vehicles covering more miles than ever, looking after your motor is extra important to stay safe on the UK’s road network – but how do you go about it?

Vehicle Occupant Safety

A key factor in vehicle safety is ensuring the drivers and any passengers are safe while inside the cabin. To maintain a safe and roadworthy vehicle you need to:

  • Set your driving position – Drivers should have their seat pulled far enough forward so that they can fully extend the clutch pedal while maintaining a slight bend in the knee. The backrest of the seat should be tilted back ever so slightly, and when turning the steering wheel your shoulders should remain in contact with the seat – not hunched forward. The headrest should also sit higher than the driver’s ears to keep the head secure in the case of an accident.

  • Check all seatbelts – look for any signs of damage, and fasten the seat belt and pull to check it’s secure with no looseness. Retraction should be smooth, as any noticeable slowness, hesitation or delay to the retraction rate or jerking movements could indicate an issue.

  • Check your rear-view mirror – Sit in your normal driving position and using your left hand, grip the plastic surrounds of the mirror and move it so that you can see the entire rear window and as little of the interior as possible; essentially ‘framing’ the rear window in the mirror.

  • Check your wing mirror position – Sitting in your normal driving position, adjust the right-side wing mirror so that the horizon (the point at which the road disappears into the distance) is in the centre of the mirror. Ensure there is only a very small portion of the side of your car in the left side of the mirror. Repeat with the left-side wing mirror.

  • Check any child seats – The current law states that all children travelling in a car must use the correct car seat appropriate to their weight or height, until they are either 135cm in height or 12 years in age, whichever they reach first. If a seat is required, check the vehicle seat belt is running through the correct path in the child seat and that it is not twisted; it should hold the seat securely in place and resist you pushing on the seat. If you push against the seat and it moves, reassess why the seat is not locking in securely. If you are caught with an ‘unsuitable’ or wrongly fitted car seat, you could be fined £500.

  • Restrain your pets – Rule 57 of the Highway Code states: “When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves if you stop quickly. A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars.” There is no direct law that will penalise motorists for not obeying the Highway Code, but drivers could be fined £1,000 for driving without proper control of their vehicle if they’re pulled over by a police officer.

Plan your route(s)

Before setting off on any journey it is worth checking the routes to your destination. Ideally, have a main route and a back-up option prepared in case of unforeseen delays like traffic or road closures. Many internet search engines offer mapping functions, providing travel times based on time of day, traffic and road incidents, so you can prepare well ahead.

By doing a little homework beforehand, you could save a lot of time and avoid frustrations – which means safer journeys!

Check your vehicle’s tax and MOT status

Before you’ve even left the house, you may need to check these three important documents are valid and have enough time left on them.

About a month before your road tax expires the DVLA will issue you with a V11 Vehicle Tax Reminder, containing the information you need to either renew your tax online, via telephone or at a Post Office branch, as well as the date your current road tax period will expire. You can also check the status of your road tax or renew it online via the Gov.uk website.

If you are unsure of your vehicle’s MOT status you can use the Gov.uk MOT history checker to see when your vehicle last had an MOT, and the previous detailed information about that MOT. It’s worth ensuring that any advisory items noted at the last MOT are repaired, as these items may have deteriorated since the last MOT was carried out. As part of this service, you can also check if there are any outstanding recalls for your vehicle – where the manufacturer needs to investigate and potentially repair a problem with a certain batch of vehicles – and how to proceed if there is a recall problem. Find out more on the Gov.uk website.

Check your lights and levels

Before setting off on any journey, check your lights and levels! You can either checking them yourself or asking a friend or family member to walk around the vehicle. Make sure you check all lights – including brake lights and number plate lights – to ensure they are clear and functioning correctly.

You should also check your oil, screen wash and engine coolant levels at regular intervals – at least once a month depending on the age of your vehicle. If you aren’t sure of how to inspect your vehicle properly, you can always ask a local, trusted garage to see if or what levels and lights need topping up or replacing.

Brakes

Brakes are an essential part of any car and therefore should be regularly checked and well maintained. So, how can you tell your brakes are in tip top condition?

It’s a case of making sure you have them checked regularly. An easy way to test your brakes is by driving at a slow speed in an area or road with no traffic, and gently applying pressure.

Listen out for warning signs, as brakes will let you know when there is a problem – whether this is through grinding or squeaking. Sometimes your car will act like it has a mind of its own and pull you to one side when applying the brakes, which could indicate a fault or imbalance with the braking system. Vibrations and temperamental pedal feel are also a sign you need to give your car some attention – so look out for the signs and don’t ignore them.

Tyres

Checking your vehicle’s tyre pressure is easier than you might think! You can check and correct your tyre pressure at most UK petrol stations using a pay-per-use air and water station, or you can purchase your own tyre pressure gauge – the choice is yours.

If you aren’t sure what pressure is correct for your vehicle’s tyres you can refer to your Owner’s Manual. Details should be provided in either/both BAR and PSI, and you can adjust your pressures to the recommended figure. Often a vehicle’s tyre pressure information is also provided on the interior frame of the front passenger or driver’s door, or sometimes inside the fuel filler flap, so be sure to check there if you need a quick reference point as well.

Don’t forget to check all your tyres’ tread depths too. The legal minimum tread depth in the UK is 1.6mm across the central three-quarters, however it is recommended to keep your tyres at 3mm or above for optimum grip. Drivers who fail to comply with the regulations face a fine of up to £2,500 and three penalty points for each illegal tyre.

As well as this, don’t disregard any warning lights that may appear on your dashboard! If you are unsure of their meaning either consult your vehicle’s Owner’s Manual or visit your local Trust My Garage member, who will be able to advise of any issues with your car. To learn all you need to know about ensuring your vehicle’s tyre are ready for the road read our “What to do when… you need to check your vehicle’s tyres” post.

Breakdown Essentials

If you do suffer the unfortunate experience of a breakdown it’s important to keep some essentials in the car – reflective or bright clothing so you and your passengers are visible to other traffic, a fully charged mobile phone, a torch, warm clothes, comfortable and waterproof shoes, hot drinks and snacks (Telegraph). That way, when you’re waiting for some roadside assistance or a recovery vehicle you can stay warm, full and safe while trying to stave off the boredom. For more details, check out our winter blog post’s “Breakdown Essentials”.

More about Trust My Garage

If you take your vehicle for an MOT, service or repair at your local garage, how can you be sure of the quality of its work? At Trust My Garage, we believe that our members are the best independent garages in the UK, each one unique, but all skilled professionals who are dedicated to providing top quality work.

By using a TMG-approved member, you’re visiting a garage that adheres to a CTSI (Chartered Trading Standards Institute) approved Code of Conduct. Our code means that you and your vehicle get the best service possible, no matter which TMG member you visit – so excellent service is on your doorstep!

With over 3,000 members across the UK, you’re never far away from a TMG member. We’ve even created a handy search function so you can locate your nearest TMG-approved garage with ease.

Simply pop in your postcode and our ‘Find a Garage’ map will show you all the TMG members in your area – and you can even read reviews from other customers if you’re unsure which garage is right for your needs.

If you’re looking for more information about Trust My Garage, you can head over to our website, TrustMyGarage.co.uk. 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!