On The Road

Speed Limits, Road Signs and Traffic Conditions in the United Kingdom...

Types of Roads

There are nearly 400,000 Km of road in Great Britain. The roads are divided up between major and minor roads. These include:

  • A-roads, or trunk roads: These are major roads that run the length and breadth of England, Wales and Scotland. They all commence with A and are then numbered according to their locality. The A1 heads north out of London for example. A-roads are paid for and managed by the Government. They can be single or dual carriageways
  • B-roads: These are minor roads that are managed by the local authorities. They all commence with a B and are numbered according to their locality
  • Motorways: All motorways begin with the letter M

For more information on British motorways and the road network, see the government's Highways Agency website to check road conditions and Traffic England for live traffic reports.

Speed Limits

There are different speed limits for the type of road, and for individual vehicles. Note: speed is measured in miles per hour (mph) and not kilometres per hour (Km/h).

Cars and motorbikes must not exceed 30mph in built up areas, 60mph on a single carriageway, 70mph on a dual carriageway and 70mph on a motorway. Cars towing caravans or trailers must not exceed 50mph on a single carriageway or 60mph on dual carriageways and motorways. Special speed limits on motorways are displayed with illuminated signs and flashing lights. Motorists can be prosecuted for driving too slowly on a motorway.

There are a large number of speed cameras both fixed and mobile that check the speed of vehicles across the country. To find out where the cameras are situated see the Speed Camera Map and Speed Or Safety websites. Speeding fines can range from £30 with a maximum of £1000. Speeding will also result in 3 - 6 penalty points.

  • More information on speed limits in Great Britain is available from Gov.UK

Road Signs

There are literally hundreds of road signs advising motorists of rules and regulations and how to drive in the UK.

Toll Roads

Most of the roads in Britain are currently free to use. There are several exceptions:

  • The M6 Toll road, where motorists can avoid congestion in the West Midlands
  • Some major bridge roads, where motorists pay to cross
  • Congestion Charges apply in London and Durham, where motorists pay to drive into the centre of the capital, and the northern city of Durham

GOV.UK has more information on road tolls and charges

Accidents

Every car must be insured and proof of insurance is required when taxing a vehicle. Motorists should keep details for their insurance, plus a brightly coloured or hi-visibility jacket and red warning triangle in their vehicles in case of an accident. This is not legally required, but advised.

In the event of an accident Tel: 999 or 112.

Insurance

Third party insurance is obligatory in the UK and covers the civil liability of the vehicle owner, as well as that of any other driver.

Breakdown Recovery

There are a large number of companies that offer car recovery packages. The main companies include: