Unless you are driving a fire engine, ambulance or a police vehicle, then you must strictly adhere to U.K.'s road speed limits, which are known as the National Speed Limit (NSL). NSL was established on 22 December, 1965 in the wake of spiralling death tolls from road accidents.
The NSL works on a four-tiered system based on the types of roads, and speed limits are displayed in miles per hour (mph) on traffic signs (black font on a white background encircled by a red border) at visibly prominent locations. The current limits for cars and motorcycles (maximum weight of two tonnes) are:
* Single carriageways are roads without any physical dividers to separate traffic from opposite directions
U.K.'s speed limits are markedly lower compared to neighbouring European countries such as Germany (81mph, but no limit on motorways), France (81mph), Italy (81mph) and Spain (75mph). In recent years, there have been increasing pressures for the government to raise the motorway speed limit to 80mph and lower single carriageway limit to 50mph. However, as of 2017, there are no plans to increase speed limits on motorways as such a move will likely increase the rate of vehicle accidents and emissions of carbon monoxide into the atmosphere. However, there is a good chance that speed limits on single carriageways will be implemented in the near future as almost two-thirds of deaths on UK roads occur on them.
It is important to note however that local authorities have the right to change speed limits of specific roads or areas under their jurisdiction. The changes are usually made to improve traffic flow or reduce the chance of accidents in high risk locations.
Under the Fixed Penalty Notice system, offenders are liable to be fined £100 and penalised with a 3-point deduction for each speeding offence. However, at the discretion of the police, minor offenders may be offered a chance to attend a speed awareness course instead of paying a fine. Completion of the course will strike off the three points deduction from the driver's record.
Offenders are detected using speed cameras and speed guns (LIDAR and radar).