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National Speed Limit for Villages

National speed limit for villages

I think that this extract says it all. Too many people think that they should drive at the speed limit and to hell with every other road user. This is what the Highway Code has to say: The speed limit is the absolute maximum and does not mean it is safe to drive at that speed  (the relevant section in the code is republished below)

Speed limits: Road Safety Bill

Mr. Chope: I had not intended to participate in the debate, but I think that the Minister and the hon. Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross have missed the main point, which is surely that all drivers should be driving at the speed that is appropriate in the circumstances. The village where I live used to have the national speed limit, although most people drove at about 20 mph because the road was single track and there were bends. If we impose a speed limit that is not regarded as the maximum in ideal circumstances, it will not command respect.

In the less populated rural areas, in particular, it is surely important that all motorists go at an appropriate speed. During the day, when there are children around, that speed may be different from what it would be at the night time or during the early hours of a summer morning. I am worried that there would be speed limit signs in every village in the countryside and that they would add to the rural clutter instead of reinforcing the message that too many people are driving too fast in particular circumstances, in relation to their own safety and the safety of others. That is what is emphasised in the highway code.

Too many people think that they should drive up to the speed limit. To finish my example, a blanket 40 mph speed limit zone was introduced in the whole of the New Forest, but that was too fast for our village, so another limitation on driving in our village had to be introduced, because it seemed implicit that people would drive at 40 mph. Surely, without the need for a lot of clutter and a lot more regulation, we should re-emphasise the need for people to drive at an appropriate speed, irrespective of what the speed limit sign says.

Hansard: You are here: Publications and Records > Commons Publications > Committees > Standing Committee on Bills New clause 7

National speed limit for villages

The Highway Code and speed limits

Speed limits


You MUST NOT exceed the maximum speed limits for the road and for your vehicle (see the table above). The presence of street lights generally means that there is a 30 mph (48 km/h) speed limit unless otherwise specified.


The speed limit is the absolute maximum and does not mean it is safe to drive at that speed irrespective of conditions. Driving at speeds too fast for the road and traffic conditions is dangerous. You should always reduce your speed when

  • the road layout or condition presents hazards, such as bends
  • sharing the road with pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders, particularly children, and motorcyclists
  • weather conditions make it safer to do so
  • driving at night as it is more difficult to see other road users


Stopping Distances

Drive at a speed that will allow you to stop well within the distance you can see to be clear. You should

  • leave enough space between you and the vehicle in front so that you can pull up safely if it suddenly slows down or stops. The safe rule is never to get closer than the overall stopping distance (see Typical Stopping Distances PDF below)
  • allow at least a two-second gap between you and the vehicle in front on roads carrying faster-moving traffic and in tunnels where visibility is reduced. The gap should be at least doubled on wet roads and increased still further on icy roads
  • remember, large vehicles and motorcycles need a greater distance to stop. If driving a large vehicle in a tunnel, you should allow a four-second gap between you and the vehicle in front

If you have to stop in a tunnel, leave at least a 5-metre gap between you and the vehicle in front.


This means that if I travel at  20mph a following driver should be driving at a distance of no less than 40 feet behind me and at 30 mph a driver behind should maintain a gap of 75 feet, yes and pigs can fly!  

Posted on 02 Jun 2010 by Geoff Edwards

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