Stay Within The Limit

Many car drivers accidentally exceed the speed limit without realising it. Modern cars are so powerful and comfortable they give drivers little feeling of their speed. It is too easy
03 Jan 2015 16:05
Stay Within The Limit

Many car drivers accidentally exceed the speed limit without realising it. Modern cars are so powerful and comfortable they give drivers little feeling of their speed. It is too easy to creep above the limit, and in particular, many drivers believe it is difficult to drive a modern car at no more than 30kmph on a road with a 30 mph limit. Drivers are responsible for the speeds at which they choose to drive, but there are some simple and practical things drivers who find it difficult to stay within speed limits can do to help themselves.

Practical tips to stay within the speed limit.


Modern cars are so powerful and comfortable they give drivers little sensation of their speed, so many drivers find themselves exceeding the speed limit without realising it. This is particularly true when coming onto a lower speed road after driving on a high speed road for a long period. It can often feel like you are moving at a snail’s pace when you reduce your speed to 40 kmphor 30 kmph after coming off a freeway. In reality, 30 mph and 40 mph are still very substantial speeds and a pedestrian hit at those speeds will be seriously injured, and quite likely killed.It is misleading to rely on a ‘feeling’ of speed. The only way to be sure of your speed, and to check you have reduced to an appropriate speed (even if it ‘feels’ slow) is to check the car’s speedometer regularly. Although you should never rely on ‘feeling’ your speed, you may be able to improve your judgement of it by regularly comparing how fast you think you are driving with what the speedometer says.Many cars now have speed management devices that allow the driver to set certain speeds and receive a warning when they are being exceeded. If your vehicle has a pre-set speed function, set this so it will warn you if you exceed certain speeds.




You need to know the speed limit of the roads you are using. Far too many drivers who have been caught speeding, complain that they thought the road had a higher speed limit (50 mph instead of 60 mph).In many cases, the nature of the road does not indicate the speed limit. In urban areas, for example, some can have limits of 20, 30 kmph, 40 kmph, 50 kmph, 60 kmph or 70 kmph.Speed limit signs tend to be placed at junctions because this is often the point at which the limit changes. However, junctions are also where you need to absorb a wide range of different information and it is easy to miss a speed limit sign when concentrating on one or more other things (e.g., which way am I going, is that driver going to pull out, etc). So you need to get into the habit of checking for speed limit signs at junctions, and looking for repeater signs after the junction, especially if the nature of the road has changed.



Speed limits set the maximum speed for that road. However, there are many circumstances when it is not safe to drive at that speed. Examples of situations where drivers should drive at lower speeds than the limits are:Around schools at opening and closing times ,When children are about (especially residential areas, near playgrounds or parks) , On busy, narrow roads , Where parked vehicles reduce the width of the road , On rural roads which are narrow, bendy and hilly and visibility is restricted , In poor weather or reduced visibility and atroadwork’s


It is easier to notice if you are creeping above 30 mph when travelling in 3rd gear, and this can act as a warning to reduce your speed.Drivers should, of course, choose the appropriate gear for their speed and the road, weather and traffic circumstances, and change gear as those circumstances change. The most appropriate gear to use when driving at 30 mph will depend on your engine size, but in many modern cars it is possible to drive at 30 mph in 3rd gear without making the engine labour. If you struggle to keep your car within 30 mph when driving in a 30 mph zone, try driving in 3rd gear (or lower when necessary). If you can comfortably travel at 30 mph in 3rd gear without feeling that the engine is laboured, adopt ’no higher than 3rd in 30 mph’ as a principle. Automatic cars normally have several forward gears, so the driver should choose the gear which makes it easiest to keep the vehicle under 30 mph



We all have our ‘speed triggers’ – things that make us more likely to speed up and perhaps exceed the limit unintentionally. This could be feeling pressurised into keeping up with other drivers, or feeling stressed by a driver too close behind. Being tempted to overtake a vehicle in front may also mean exceeding the limit to complete the manoeuvre. Distractions, such as listening to loud music, often result in speeding. It could be something as simple as going downhill. Learning to recognise your own ‘speed triggers’ will make it easier to avoid being ‘pushed’ into speeding. It will also make driving less stressful and more relaxing.Keeping a safe distance from the vehicle in front will also help to reduce your stress levels when driving. Use the 2-Second Rule: leave at least a two second gap between you and the vehicle in front. Double this distance on wet roads and increase it even further on icy roads


Although it is a familiar everyday task, driving is actually a very complex thing. Trying to do something else (use a mobile phone, light a cigarette, unwrap a sweet) at the same time, is distracting. Listening to music with the volume too high can encourage drivers to speed up. Distracted drivers find it much more difficult to maintain their awareness of what’s happening on the road around them, and are more likely to speed. Using a mobile phone while driving is a classic example of this.The law requires drivers to be in proper control of their vehicle at all times. There is also a specific law banning the use of hand-held mobile phones, or other communication devices, while driving.



Villages are in rural areas and normally surrounded by roads with 20kmph limits. But, of course, in the village itself there are pedestrians, cyclists, junctions, slow-moving vehicles. The speed limit will normally be reduced as you approach a village. It may be reduced gradually from 60 mph to 50 mph or 40 mph as you approach the village and then go down to 30 as you enter the village, or it may go straight down from 60 mph to 30 mph through a village. Begin to slow down as you see the speed limit sign ahead so that you have already reduced your speed to 30 mph by the time reach the speed limit sign.It may feel like you are only crawling through the village, especially if you have been driving at 60 mph for while, but at 30 mph you are still covering 44 feet (about three car lengths) every second, and if you hit a pedestrian at that speed, he or she will be severely injured, and possibly killed.Even if it ‘feels’ too slow, do not exceed the limit. Check your speedometer regularly


Exceeding the speed limit makes little difference to your arrival time. The time it takes to complete a journey is determined much more by your average speed during the whole journey, rather than the maximum speed you achieve for part of it. This is especially true in urban areas, where you constantly have to slow down for junctions, traffic lights and other road users. The faster you drive, the sharper you have to brake. This also uses much more fuel and so makes driving more expensive.Knowing that you have plenty of time to complete your journey will help you to relax and avoid the temptation to push your speed.


(The writer is the Public Relations Officer of the Land Transport Authority)

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