UK Speed Limits

Sticking to the speed limit can be tricky and finding a sign can be even harder! Find out how to tell the speed limit when there is little signage on the roads!


By Marmalade Author

Updated on Sep 7th, 2021

Identifying speed limits would have been one of the first things you were taught in your driving lessons. However, if you’re a little rusty on your knowledge of the highway code or speed limits across the various types of roads in the UK, Marmalade has got you covered! 

Adhering to the speed limit decreases the impact on the environment as well as the seriousness of potential accidents. Therefore, we have created a super handy guide with all of our top tricks and tips to help you stay safe avoid a hefty fine.

How to check for the speed limit on the road

Being able to find out  the speed limit on a road with little to no signage can be a real worry for some drivers - and it’s something I was really nervous about once I no longer had my driving instructor by my side! 

Other than signage, there are a few ways of being able to tell what speed you should be going on a road.

  • When driving around very busy residential areas, high streets and schools, the limit may be 20mph. Although it may feel too slow, the speed limit has been put in place for a reason and should be followed.
  • The speed limit is 30mph in built-up areas and villages. An easy way to recognise a built-up area is seeing regular street lights, if you haven’t spotted any signs.
  • Country roads usually have very poor signage but unless there are signs showing otherwise, the limit is usually 60mph. Due to the winds, bumps and unpredictability of these roads, it is always better to drive slower on the side of caution!
  • There will normally be regular signs along a 40mph road, so there should be little doubt here. If you are unsure and you have come from a built-up area, it’s safest to continue at 30mph until you see the next speed sign.

What is the national speed limit?

National Speed Limit Sign

Roads which require drivers to adhere to this limitcan easily be recognised by the national speed limit sign which displays a white circle with a black diagonal line through it. The national speed limit varies depending on the type of road that you are driving on. Here is our handy guide to the speed limits on single carriageways, dual carriageways and motorways.

What is the national speed limit on a single carriageway?

Single carriageways will have a speed limit of 60mph, unless there are signs to sign otherwise. A single carriageway is a road where the traffic flowing in both directions isn’t divided by a central reservation. Some people assume that roads with two lanes either side are dual carriageways, this isn’t always the case. So, if you spot there are just painted lines between you and the cars coming the opposite way – the maximum speed will be 60mph.

What is the national speed limit on a dual carriageway?

Dual carriageways (roads with a central reservation) and motorways normally have a maximum speed limit of 70 mph – however, it’s important to be aware that these limits may vary in some locations for safety reasons. It’s important to stay alert for road signs of a change in speed limit.

What is the speed limit on a motorway?

Similar to dual carriageways, the maximum speed allowed on a UK motorway is 70 mph. However, it is important to remember smart motorways use variable speed limits to manage their speed limits (and lanes). These are often enforced by signs positioned behind average speed cameras. 

Be aware that the speed limit may change and look ahead to stay alert! Keeping a safe distance from the car in front and beginning to ease off the accelerator as soon as you spot a change in limit (or lane closure) will help you to avoid having to brake sharply at the last minute (and possibly getting a lower score on the Marmalade Black Box app!).

What happens if I get caught speeding?

As we all know, speeding is a serious driving offence and carries a range of consequences. Not only can exceeding the maximum speed limit on a road impact your driving score negatively, you could also face a minimum of a £100 fine as well as 3 penalty points on your license. You may also be ordered to partake in a speed awareness course - find out what to expect during the course here. Read Chloe’s blog on speeding fines and penalties to find out more.

Get set for the open road!

9 out of 10 of our black box customers have recommended Marmalade to friends or family†
Join thousands of young drivers enjoying comprehensive cover with no curfews or night-time driving restrictions

By Marmalade Author

Providing tips and advice for young drivers on all aspects of driving - from getting through the driving test to buying and running your first car.

Related Blogs

Speeding fines and penalties

If you’re caught speeding, there are different penalties you may face – we’ve pulled together a guide so you know what you may face should you break the law.

What is a speed awareness course?

If you’re caught speeding, you may be offered the chance to go on a speed awareness course instead of a fine and penalty points. Here’s what you can expect.


Parent advice

Advice and guides for parents helping their learner driver on their driving journey.

black box myth busters

Black Box Mythbusters

There’s a lot of misconceptions around driving with a black box – we’ve got the facts on what’s true and false!

friends happy on phones

Visit the Driver Hub

Check out the latest stories and blogs from young drivers

ICS member logo
Customer Service Excellence Awards
BIBA scheme provider logo
First car award 2019 winner logo