Most countries have speed limits. Whether you consistently abide by them or regulary like to creep a few miles per hour above them, they are there to provide a maximum speed at which a vehicle can travel on a particular road. This article examines some different facts about speed limits including the different types of speed limits, why are they in place, and do they actually work?

The enforcement of speed limits does, of course, ultimately comes down to the good intention of increasing road safety. The World Health Organisation have identified speed control as an intervention that is likely to contribute to a reduction in road casualties. Speed limits can also be set in place to reduce environmental noise and pollution that come from vehicles travelling at higher speeds. Some governments also go one step further than setting a speed limit, by enforcing traffic calming techniques (chicanes, width restrictions, bumps etc).

The speed at which cars can now travel has changed dramatically in recent years. We’ve probably all been guilty of accidentally speeding, by not realising the characteristics of a more powerful car? A lot of drivers do claim this; with their powerful engines and smooth systems it can be very easy to go a few miles per hour over the limit that has been set in place. Many drivers admit to speeding regularly, but why? The top three factors generally come down to either:

  • They were in a rush
  • They were bored
  • They enjoy driving at fast speeds

In general, statistics show that younger individuals tend to driver faster than older individuals, and males typically drive faster than females.

There are, surprisingly, some places in the world that don’t even enforce a speed limit at all. Take, for instance, Germany’s famous Autobahns. They advise a limit of 130kph (81mph) but unrestricted vehicles do not have to adhere to this. While this seems counter-intuitive, surely this should be really dangerous?  Germany have allegedly realised an actual reduction in road traffic accidents on their Autobahns. The conditions of the Autobahns are very high, so individuals should not take inspiration from these statistics to drive at higher speeds on a standard motorway. They are regularly inspected and if there are any damages or irregularity in the roads, the entire area around the road is replaced.

It’s worth also considering that speed limits have been in place, generally, in the U.K for many decades when cars were less powerful and roads were less congested. Is it time to revise the U.K speed limits with our neighbours on the continent for example?