Setting local speed limits

Contains guidance on setting local speed limits and explains how local speed limits are set.


Setting local speed limits

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Department for Transport circular 01/2013

This revised guidance is aimed mainly at local traffic authorities who are responsible for setting speed limits on local roads. It has also been designed to help explain to everyone why and how local speed limits are determined. This circular has been revised following full public consultation in summer 2012.

Traffic authorities set local speed limits in situations where local needs and conditions suggest a speed limit which is lower than the national speed limit. Traffic authorities have the flexibility to set local speed limits that are appropriate for the individual road, reflecting local needs and taking account of local considerations.

Speed limits should be evidence-led and self-explaining and seek to reinforce people’s assessment of what is a safe speed to travel. They should encourage self-compliance. Speed limits should be seen by drivers as the maximum rather than a target speed.

Traffic authorities are asked to keep their speed limits under review with changing circumstances, and to consider the introduction of more 20 miles per hour limits and zones, over time, in urban areas and built-up village streets that are primarily residential, to ensure greater safety for pedestrians and cyclists, using the criteria contained in this guidance.

This circular replaces Department for Transport circular 01/2006, which is now cancelled.

Published 29 August 2006
Last updated 18 January 2013 + show all updates
  1. Circular 01/2006 replaced with circular 01/2013.
  2. First published.