But one thing we have yet to talk about is how to make sure that you are keeping within the speed limit.
One of the top tips for keeping safe on the roads is to abide by the speed limit. After all, it is a limit for a reason, and much thought has been put into those limits.
But many will know that sometimes that is difficult. You can get distracted, relax or go into a bit of a daydream and find your speed creeping up without you even realising. It’s not that you want to break the speed limit, but sometimes it happens.
So in this article, we are going to look at 10 tips for staying within the speed limit.
How to stay within the speed limit: OSV’s 10 top tips
1. Check your speedometer
This is an obvious one, but keep glancing at your speedometer to tell you how fast you are going. Your speed could be creeping up without you noticing and you don’t want to have to find out you were going too fast after the speed camera flashes.
Take extra care when you are leaving high speed roads. You could think that, because you are going slower than you were, that you are sticking to the speed limit, but you could be going faster than you think. You will also have to make sure that you give yourself plenty of time to slow down, so as not to be breaking the speed limit when you enter a quieter area.
2. Look for signs
When joining a new road, look for signs to tell you the speed limit, don’t always assume it’s the same as the road you were just on. A lot of drivers who are caught speeding say it was unintentional, and they thought the limit was higher than it was. You often find this is the case when people think that the road has a 40mph limit when it’s 30mph, or a 30mph limit when it’s actually 20mph.
Signs indicating the speed limit are often put at junctions, where the speed limit changes. However, you also have to take in a lot of information at junctions, so it can be easy for you to miss them. You have to get into the habit of checking the speed of the road you are turning onto, and look for signs that repeat this limit after the sign.
Don’t just assume the limit due to the type of road. Dual carriageways can have several different speed limits, ranging from 30mph to 70mph. If you are in doubt, assume the limit is slower until you see otherwise.
3. Street lighting often means 30mph, but it can also mean 20mph
It’s fairly common knowledge that if you are driving on a road with streetlights, the speed limit is 30mph.
However, the limit could be lower. There has been an increase in 20mph zones, and with the introduction of quiet lanes and home zones, the speed limit could be lower. Quiet lanes and home zones set out to reduce the dominance of cars in an area, and can greatly lower the speed limit. The target speed of some of these zones can be around 10-15mph and can also feature traffic calming measures such as speed bumps.
Interestingly, a cul-de-sac in Hastings was named a Play Street, banning all cars from the hours of 8am to sunset, allowing children to pay on the street. So that is also something that you may encounter.
Anyway, while street lights typically mean it’s 30mph, it can also mean lower, so keep an eye out for signage. There will not be several signs telling you the speed limit, if that was the case there would be hundreds more road signs, of which cost a lot of money. So you should be aware of the speed limit in residential areas.
4. Even if the speed limit is 30mph, it can be too fast
If you are driving in a residential area, you do not have to hit 30mph. In fact, the slower you drive, the better.
We all want children to play outside more, but this comes with added risk for both the child and a driver. Children aren’t as aware of the dangers of traffic as adults are, and are more likely to get distracted or do something adults wouldn’t dream of doing, such as running into the road to fetch a ball.
This can make driving in residential areas hugely dangerous for drivers, especially when it gets darker in the evenings and children are still out playing.
Therefore, although the speed limit might be 30, 20 is always recommended.
5. Avoid going higher than 3rd gear in a 30mph limit
You should always choose the appropriate gear for your speed, the weather, traffic and the type of road you are driving on.
But most modern cars will allow you to drive in 3rd gear when travelling at 30mph without making your engine work too hard. So if you find your speed going up when travelling in a 30 then try driving in a lower gear, this should make it easier for you to realise if you are trying to go faster.
6. Understand why you speed
People break the speed limit, it’s a fact. And there are many reasons why they might do this. So work out what makes you break the speed limit.
Is it because you are in a rush? You are eager to get home? Or perhaps it’s because you want to overtake someone, or maybe someone is tailgating which is making you want to speed up. Or, it could be your environment, do you speed when you drive with friends in the car? Or when you listen to loud music?
Understanding why you break the speed limit will help you address those reasons and you can take steps to stop it happening. Some of them will be more difficult than others, such as other drivers being impatient and wanting you to break the speed limit, but others will be easy to solve. Keeping the volume down or making sure your friends respect the fact you want to abide by traffic laws are much simpler and easy to solve.
7. Avoid distractions
Your speed can creep up when you are distracted. This could be talking to a passenger, looking out the window at something interesting (Stonehenge is the worst for this) or even listening to music or the radio.
Make sure you are free of distractions. Don’t listen to music if it’s going to distract you, or if you are talking with a passenger make sure that you are concentrating on the road first and foremost. If you are talking about something that requires your whole attention, then wait until you’re out of the car.
8. Watch your speed when driving through small villages and towns
Speed limits are often the strictest and the punishments the harshest through villages and small towns. Tearing through a village can be dangerous and can also get you a hefty fine. Check the speed limit before you approach a village or a small town, and be aware of any signs that tell you to slow down or if there are speed limit changes.
You will also want to be aware of traffic calming procedures such as speed bumps. It can be particularly common to speed through a village if you have come off a country road, because you might not have realised the speed limit has changed. Therefore, it is vital that you keep an eye out for speed limit changes.
9. Relax, or leave earlier
If you find yourself speeding because you aren’t giving yourself enough time, then try and leave earlier.
Plan your journey in advance, put the information in the sat-nav the day before so you aren’t messing around trying to get the postcode right when you really should have left five minutes ago. If you have a long journey ahead of you, plan everything the night before including what you are going to be taking, packing the car up the night before and ensuring that it has enough petrol and is in a good condition to drive. Doing this will save you valuable time in the morning and will increase your chances of setting off on time, or earlier, and decreasing your need to break the speed limit.
If you find yourself breaking the speed limit when you are stressed, then take some time out to calm down before you drive. Breathing deeply will help you relax, as will putting on some calming music (no loud, aggressive music, as that will make things worse). This will also stop you making rash decisions and endangering yourself and other drivers.
10. Speed limits are a maximum, they are not a target
They are there as a guide, and are not there for you to try and reach in the quickest time possible.
There are times when driving too slowly can be dangerous, such as on the motorway for example, but a lot of the time, it doesn’t hurt to go slower than the speed limit.
This is particularly the case if you are travelling on rural roads that have the national speed limit, or in residential areas or towns. You know how fast your car can travel without you feeling like you are losing control, or how fast it goes before you increase your stoppage time. Therefore, if you feel like you should be driving slower for the safety of yourself and others around you, then you should drive slower. If the roads are wet, it is dark or the weather is bad, then you shouldn’t feel like you have to do the speed limit if you feel that it is too fast.
In conclusion, the key to sticking to the speed limit is to avoid distractions and to keep an eye out as to what the speed limit is, especially if you are joining a new road. While the speed limit is often 30mph in a residential area, there is no harm in going slower, especially if you know that there are children playing. Keep calm on the road, and make sure you eliminate any triggers that may cause you to break the speed limit. Hopefully this has given you some idea of how to stick to the speed limit.